With eight million gallons of fresh water and over 120,000 animals, the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta calls itself the largest in the world. Such an aquatic behemoth demands an equally grandiose gift shop. So TVS Interiors (Atlanta) donned its wet suit to create an engaging ocean environment for the retail space.
Replicating a deep-sea-diving experience, the 6000-square-foot “Beyond the Reef” store opens into a darkened cove-like entry with large, glowing fiberglass jellyfish draped in sheer organza silk “swimming” above. To achieve an underwater feel, designers used recessed floor lights that create rippled reflections on the walls.
Visitor flow was an important design challenge for TVS since the store functions as the main exit to the aquarium. “We wanted to entice the aquarium visitors to look around first instead of heading for the door,” project designer Paula Carr says. “So we incorporated varying lighting levels, meandering paths and materials that require investigation and discovery.”
One of those paths follows a curving cracked mosaic wall channeling guests toward merchandise. There, the aquatic theme crests with overhanging green kelp tentacles, a coral reef-like wall and plasma screens showing films of ocean life.
Elements like washes of blue light simulating radiating sun rays and a sparkling terrazzo floor make this space as much of a destination as the aquarium itself, Carr believes. “We chose to use the best materials and elements of curiosity to allow the store to be a lasting memory with its visitors.”
TVS also designed a 600-square-foot, child-inspired shop in the aquarium called the “Sand Dollar.”
Client: The Paradies Shops, Atlanta
Design: TVS Interiors, Inc., Atlanta - Stephanie Belcher, associate principal; Steve Clem, project designer; Paula Carr, project designer; Dana Carter, project designer; Tonja Adair, project architect; Dan Sweeney, architect; Stephen Wells, project manager
Outside Design Consultants: Bliss Fasman, New York (lighting)
Architect: Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback and Associates, Atlanta
General Contractor: Brasfield & Gorrie, Kennesaw, Ga.
Fixtures: ALU, New York
Flooring: U.S. Mosaic Tile Co., Norcross, Ga.
Lighting: Juno Lighting Group, Des Plaines, Ill.
Louis Poulsen Lighting, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
Lithonia Lighting, Conyers, Ga.
Color Kinetics, Boston
Millwork/Fixtures: Raydeo Enterprises, Ball Ground, Ga.
Signage/Graphics: Paradies, Atlanta
Wallcoverings/Materials: Goodman Decorating Co. Inc., Atlanta
Ceramic Technics Ltd., Atlanta
Zolatone Interior Finishes, Los Angeles
Photography: Brian Gassel, Atlanta