In our most recent project, a boutique for OWEN, the program called for the design of a temporary retail environment that would stand as a physical introduction to the identity of this new brand. This inaugural store serves as a preview and the first in a series of stores for OWEN. For us, the thing that makes OWEN different from other fashion retailers, is Phillip Salem’s (the owner) emphasis on personal service and a his strong eye for detail. He has personally selected lines of clothing whose designers have taken a classic look and introduced unique details to create remarkable, original pieces. In response to this identity, we wanted to take something that was inherently familiar (the paper lunch bag that many kids grew up with) and use it in a new way to define an environment that was at the same time incredibly unique and strangely foreign yet alluringly familiar.
I also liked how the bags relate to the idea of a to-go bag something you take away from this first store to the next. Additionally, as the bags form a foliage-like canopy, there is a strong reference to the flower shop that previously occupied the space. Here a continuous surface, hand-built out of 25,000 brown paper bags, arches from floor to ceiling. The repetition of the paper bags results in a honeycomb-like structure that defines a warm, organic volume which sits within and in contrast to the existing industrial brick and concrete space. Additionally, all clothing, accessories, and jewelry are displayed on quartz slab tables, blackened steel hang-bars and steel and glass vitrines whose linearity and crisp details sit in contrast to the delicate texture of the paper arch beyond.
We experimented with a number of materials, but with the time and budget constraints inherent to a temporary construct, the bags were the best choice. They are readily available, inexpensive ($800 for 25,000 bags,) easy to install, surprisingly durable, and easily replaced if damaged. We worked with a consultant to find a non-toxic flame retardant saturant, specifically formulated for paper, in order to achieve a proper fire rating.Location: Meat Packing District, New York, USA Architect:Tacklebox Architecture, PLLC | Jeremy Barbour Project name: OWEN
Size: 1,800 sq.ft.
Client: Phillip Salem, Owner – OWEN NYC
Contractor: Tony Carney, Gauge Contracting Corp.
Materials: 25,000 kraft paper lunch bags
Quartz slab tables
Blackened steel hangbars and display fixtures
Photos: Juliana Sohn for OWEN