Mateo Thun, the renowned Milanese architect and designer, was quite clear in his vision for the new Hugo Boss store in New York’s Meatpacking District. “In all projects, I try to discover the soul of a place,” he says. “Often, it’s as easy as leaving it as it is. Any new element should emphasize the spirit of a site rather than overwhelm it.”
The soul of New York’s Meatpacking District stems from its gritty history, with hundreds of slaughterhouses and processing plants. In creating a cutting-edge retail space in this now-trendy neighborhood, Thun maintained that essence of the area’s industrial past in what was formerly the 4000-square-foot Western Beef grocery store.
While the adjacent Moschino boutique (see “Heart’s Desire,” December 2008 issue) went to great lengths to remove all traces of the past, Boss went to great lengths to maintain it. The original structural columns remain in all of their “distressed” glory. A brilliantly conceived labyrinth of bentwood oak rises from the floor and envelops the walls and ceiling like a net. This signature superstructure, constructed of a German soft, light oak and assembled by a boatmaker, is evocative of the skeletal armature of a maritime vessel.
The fixturing, inspired by the original water pipes found in the space, is a mix of then and now: contemporary, low, horizontal shelving units and bronzed steel industrial piping. All fixtures are moveable. The shelving plugs into sockets on the oak netting and appears to float on the wooden frame, while the free-standing pipe fixtures plug into receptors in the floor.
Programmable LEDs provide an ethereal light wash that changes color and intensity, adding drama as it brings the space to life. The ambient light changes according to the brightness from outside sources. At night, theatrical colored light washes the environment, while a lighting cove on the floor produces a dreamlike uplighting effect.
At the back of the boutique, an exposed brick wall adds to the historic dynamic of the environment. The adjacent fitting area has a luxe private feel with plush furniture, freshly brewing coffee and changing rooms with blond hardwood walls.
All Hugo Boss lines, including Boss Black, Boss Orange, Boss Selection, Boss Green and the Hugo brand, are presented in an environment that Thun calls “a daring new idea. It’s the complete brand experience presented as a strong sensorial event. It’s accessible to a younger group, and it’s right for the moment, the brand and the district.”
Client: Hugo Boss AG, Metzingen, Germany
Design: Matteo Thun, Milan - Matteo Thun, partner
Architect: Callison, New York
General Contractor: JT Magen, New York
Audio/Visual, Fixtures: Oldenburger Möbelwerkstätten GmbH, Dinklage, Germany
Lighting: Zumtobel Lighting Inc., Highland, N.Y.; AJ Weissbard, Milan
Photography: Courtesy of Hugo Boss, New York