NEW YORK CITY – Award-winning London-based architectural firm Found aims to reinvent the dwindling era of department stores with its flagship for Saks Fifth Avenue. The luxury retail market has been screaming out for a new approach, as leading US high-end retailers are virtually becoming clones, stocking the same brands and presenting them identically. Found’s innovative approach teamed with Saks’ willingness for progression have led to a contemporary space and strategy.

The focal point of the design is a cylindrical tower that spans vertically from the grand entrance on West and Liberty Streets right up to the second floor. The combination of an understated palette and sleek bronze fixtures illustrates the heritage and grandeur of the brand. Free-standing mirrors measuring 2 m in height, immense lighting installations and Kvadrat wall coverings help to produce an opulent space that’s full of drama and befits the sophistication of lower Manhattan’s affluent residents.

Ironically, to refresh the department-store system, the project looks back to the way such businesses were originally intended to run. This approach includes seeking out up-and-coming brands to present and taking personalized service to the next level. Clientele can make use of services such as the one-hour power lunch, during which the personalized shopping experience is vamped up with the addition of on-the-spot alterations and a complimentary facial.

Richard Found, director of Found, says that ‘service and experience are now the most important features to consider when designing a store to compete with the online landscape, so it was important to create a journey for the customers. Saks have considered many touches to make the experience more fluid and appealing for the customer. We have ensured that the architecture and design reflects the need to create a truly interactive and immersive retail experience.’

Found Associates

Photos courtesy of Jason Schmidt