Tourneau’s showpiece addition to Madison Avenue has taken the metal and mechanical sharp edges associated with its fine timepieces and housed them in a warm environment of walnut wood, brushed nickel and leather trim – sort of like an art museum.
This elegant tone is supported by the introduction of art into a contemporary gallery-like environment as evidenced by a commissioned montage of watchbands framed under glass in the service area. Two other works of art in the form of sculpted timepieces are on display in a private viewing section. A hand-blown hourglass sculpted by Australian aircraft designer Marc Newsome is perfectly calibrated and filled with 8 million microbeads of steel. Another sculpture, displayed under glass, is Newsome’s Atmos clock, a futuristic time-piece powered by a gas chamber that keeps time by reacting to minuscule temperature changes.
The pieces are part of the 3180-square-foot store at 53rd Street, which was designed by Eight Inc., the New York firm involved with the launch of 300 Apple stores. Borrowing from Apple’s innovative approach to displaying, showing and selling merchandise, the space values form and function, as well as style.
For example, the clear glass storefront is accentuated by a repetition of vertical walnut wooden slats bearing 11 small shadow boxes that display product and brand messages. Inside, eight brushed-nickel interior wall cases serve as the mouthpiece of each watch brand, presenting both product and video vignettes.
In a bold design and operational move, the company introduced counterless selling – freestanding sales showcases with no back or front. It creates a peer-to-peer environment, with sales associate and customer standing next to each other while viewing merchandise. A nearby seating area allows the transaction to be completed.
A discovery wall toward the back of the store is finished with Venetian plaster and introduces customers to the latest styles and trends. Watches seem to float on the wall behind cutting-edge remote controlled retractable glass doors.
A variety of light sources in different temperatures adds to the environment and highlights different attributes of the merchandise. A narrow PAR38 LED beam fixture is used to illuminate the freestanding floor fixtures from overhead. A 4100K lamp lights up the display cases, while a warmer 2700K lamp is used above the consultation countertops. “Warm lighting allows customers to examine the timepieces as they try them on simulating real- life situations, while cool light above the end of the showcases shows the fine details of each watch,” says Hilary Clark, principal, Eight Inc.
A 20-foot ceiling over the entire space provides a grand spatial effect that is supportive of the retailer’s brand image. Just below, a horizontal band of LCD video monitors displays a running digital clock indicating date and time or, alternatively, brand- or event-specific information such as a product launch and trends.
French artist Eugéne Delacroix said the role of art is to give value and substance to the passing of time. In this case, Tourneau has taken the instruments used to mark time and raised them to the realm of art.
Retailer: Tourneau LLC, New York -- James Seuss, ceo; Jean Han, vp, Retail Planning & Development; William Matias, store development
Design: Eight Inc., New York -- Wilhelm Oehl, principal; Hilary Clark, principal; Jeff Straesser, architect; Alison Mann, designer; Mike Ely, studio director; Sung Bae Son, graphic designer
Architect: Matt Markowitz Architect, P.C., New York
General Contractor: Shawmut Design and Construction, New York
Ceiling and Fixtures: High Country Millwork, Longmont, Colo.
Audio and Visual: Dru Whitacre Media Services Ltd., North Bergen, N.J.
Flooring: Mannington Commercial, Calhoun, Ga.
Fixtures: Redwood Interior Pte Ltd., Singapore
Lighting: 3G Lighting Inc., Woodbridge, Ont.
Signage and Graphics: Spectrum Signage Corp., Clifton, N.J.
Venetian Plaster Wall: Mimosa International Ltd., New York
General Contractor: Shawmut Design and Construction, New York -- Greg Skalaski, project executive; Ilya Asanovich, senior project superintendent; David Margolious, project manager; Brendon Grech, assistant project manager
Outside Design Consultants: Lux Populi, San Angel, Mexico (lighting); Rosini Engineering, P.C., New York (MEP); Gilsanz Murray Steficek, LLP, New York (Structural); Outsource Consultants, Inc., New York, (Code Consultants / Expediting)