Contract - Becoming Kate: Kate Spade Flagship, Aoyama, Japan, Designed by Kramer Design Group

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Becoming Kate: Kate Spade Flagship, Aoyama, Japan, Designed by Kramer Design Group

05 August, 2011

-By Murrye Bernard


Kate Spade New York is known for its utilitarian yet sophisticated handbags in unexpected colors and patterns. But who, exactly, is Kate Spade? The brand was acquired by Liz Claiborne, Inc. in 2007, and so began an exploration into Kate and the brand identity. “It’s not about Kate herself, but rather the modern, progressive woman she represents,” explains Robin Kramer, president of New York–based Kramer Design Group.

Kramer drew on her expertise in marketing, merchandising, and retail design for other major fashion companies―such as Calvin Klein, Coach, and Donna Karan―when creating the Kate Spade Aoyama flagship store in Japan. Before putting pencil to paper, she and her team distilled the brand down to its core qualities, summarized by four phrases that became filters for all design decisions: playfully chic, rebelliously charming, culturally inspired, and refreshingly familiar. Every material selected supports these seeming contradictions, resulting in a few surprises.

Setting the tone

Aoyama is populated with eye-catching retail facades, which encouraged the design team to think beyond the typical storefront display system. Kramer Design Group opened the entry space behind the existing modern exterior and created a second facade that is set back several feet. “This vestibule window display invites customers to become a part of Kate’s world,” Kramer explains. One senses that “Kate” has just left the room: her stationery and hair accessories sit atop a desk, her handbag is draped over the back of a chair, and a pair of her shoes sits beneath, as if casually kicked to the floor.

The second facade also acts as a transition space between the display area and the rest of the store. A traditional door frame, inset with unexpectedly bright lime green–lacquered doors, floats—contrary to logic—within a glass wall that can be transformed each season through colorful applications. Arguably the most dynamic feature of the design, the glass wall presented challenges to the design team, not only from an engineering perspective, but also in meeting fire codes. Kramer worked closely with the local architect, Plax Co. Ltd., to ensure this design detail did not end up on the cutting room floor. Ultimately, vents were cut to comply with code, and the glass wall and the display space it defines have become an attraction for customers. Theresa Canning Zast, senior director of creative at Kate Spade New York, describes it as “a vibrant, dynamic space that can be curated.” Proven successful and fun, the concept has since been applied at other flagship locations.

Power of color and pattern

After customers pass through the green oversized doors, they encounter a dramatic gold runway, delineated by paint that covers a portion of the epoxy floor, continues up the wall and over millwork, and washes the ceiling plane. Mannequins model ready-to-wear pieces, a recently relaunched product line for the company. Off to one side, the cash wrap beckons with stacks of the brand’s colorful shopping bags and boxes in a PEZ-like dispenser.

Though the two-story store is relatively small—just over 1,500 square feet—the designers didn’t shy away from incorporating bright colors and pushing the scale of familiar Kate Spade patterns. “The unexpected juxtapositions create something that is uniquely Kate Spade,” confirms Canning Zast. The double-height wall along the stairs features a vinyl wallcovering with a giant rose print. The pattern might sound old-fashioned, but blown up and pixilated, the effect is unmistakably modern. Punctuated by niches containing products, the pattern is further enhanced by whimsical starburst pendants inspired by vintage fixtures.

On the second floor, a cozy lounge lined with library-style shelving could be any woman’s dream closet. To create the “residential but quirky” vibe, Kramer mixed found mid-century modern furniture with complementary pieces of her own design, which have been reproduced for use in many other Kate Spade stores. The floor, at first glance, looks like traditional black and white marble tiling, but the 36-inch pattern is actually painted onto wood. A zebra-print rug provides contrast while anchoring the seating area. The shelves, with echoes of the gold trim from downstairs, display color-coordinated products, which, of course, is very “Kate.”

“Kate Spade is not just a handbag―it’s a lifestyle,” Kramer sums up. “We wanted the consumer to walk in the store and say, ‘I belong here, I want to live here.’” Like Kate Spade’s products, the store’s design is at once bold and graphic, but also warm and inviting. Kramer Design Group’s concept for the Aoyama flagship has created a retail experience that, like the brand it represents, will likely feel fresh for years to come. 

Photos by Tsutomu Tanaka

SOURCE LIST

Kate Spade New York. Interior Designer Kramer Design Group. Architect Plax Co. Ltd. Client Kate Spade New York. 1,535 total square feet on two floors. Cost/sf Withheld at client’s request.

Where
Tokyo, Japan.

Who
Architect: Plax Co. Ltd. Interior designer: Kramer Design Group. Interior design project team: Robin Kramer, principal/creative director; Kate Russell, design director; Kelly Shields, designer; Shelli Decker, designer; Loren Fox-Dunne, designer.

What
Custom wallcovering, checkerboard flooring, starburst light fixtures, roller shades, lounge seating, and library shelving: Kramer Design Group. Paint: Benjamin Moore.




Becoming Kate: Kate Spade Flagship, Aoyama, Japan, Designed by Kramer Design Group

05 August, 2011


Tsutomu Tanaka

Kate Spade New York is known for its utilitarian yet sophisticated handbags in unexpected colors and patterns. But who, exactly, is Kate Spade? The brand was acquired by Liz Claiborne, Inc. in 2007, and so began an exploration into Kate and the brand identity. “It’s not about Kate herself, but rather the modern, progressive woman she represents,” explains Robin Kramer, president of New York–based Kramer Design Group.

Kramer drew on her expertise in marketing, merchandising, and retail design for other major fashion companies―such as Calvin Klein, Coach, and Donna Karan―when creating the Kate Spade Aoyama flagship store in Japan. Before putting pencil to paper, she and her team distilled the brand down to its core qualities, summarized by four phrases that became filters for all design decisions: playfully chic, rebelliously charming, culturally inspired, and refreshingly familiar. Every material selected supports these seeming contradictions, resulting in a few surprises.

Setting the tone

Aoyama is populated with eye-catching retail facades, which encouraged the design team to think beyond the typical storefront display system. Kramer Design Group opened the entry space behind the existing modern exterior and created a second facade that is set back several feet. “This vestibule window display invites customers to become a part of Kate’s world,” Kramer explains. One senses that “Kate” has just left the room: her stationery and hair accessories sit atop a desk, her handbag is draped over the back of a chair, and a pair of her shoes sits beneath, as if casually kicked to the floor.

The second facade also acts as a transition space between the display area and the rest of the store. A traditional door frame, inset with unexpectedly bright lime green–lacquered doors, floats—contrary to logic—within a glass wall that can be transformed each season through colorful applications. Arguably the most dynamic feature of the design, the glass wall presented challenges to the design team, not only from an engineering perspective, but also in meeting fire codes. Kramer worked closely with the local architect, Plax Co. Ltd., to ensure this design detail did not end up on the cutting room floor. Ultimately, vents were cut to comply with code, and the glass wall and the display space it defines have become an attraction for customers. Theresa Canning Zast, senior director of creative at Kate Spade New York, describes it as “a vibrant, dynamic space that can be curated.” Proven successful and fun, the concept has since been applied at other flagship locations.

Power of color and pattern

After customers pass through the green oversized doors, they encounter a dramatic gold runway, delineated by paint that covers a portion of the epoxy floor, continues up the wall and over millwork, and washes the ceiling plane. Mannequins model ready-to-wear pieces, a recently relaunched product line for the company. Off to one side, the cash wrap beckons with stacks of the brand’s colorful shopping bags and boxes in a PEZ-like dispenser.

Though the two-story store is relatively small—just over 1,500 square feet—the designers didn’t shy away from incorporating bright colors and pushing the scale of familiar Kate Spade patterns. “The unexpected juxtapositions create something that is uniquely Kate Spade,” confirms Canning Zast. The double-height wall along the stairs features a vinyl wallcovering with a giant rose print. The pattern might sound old-fashioned, but blown up and pixilated, the effect is unmistakably modern. Punctuated by niches containing products, the pattern is further enhanced by whimsical starburst pendants inspired by vintage fixtures.

On the second floor, a cozy lounge lined with library-style shelving could be any woman’s dream closet. To create the “residential but quirky” vibe, Kramer mixed found mid-century modern furniture with complementary pieces of her own design, which have been reproduced for use in many other Kate Spade stores. The floor, at first glance, looks like traditional black and white marble tiling, but the 36-inch pattern is actually painted onto wood. A zebra-print rug provides contrast while anchoring the seating area. The shelves, with echoes of the gold trim from downstairs, display color-coordinated products, which, of course, is very “Kate.”

“Kate Spade is not just a handbag―it’s a lifestyle,” Kramer sums up. “We wanted the consumer to walk in the store and say, ‘I belong here, I want to live here.’” Like Kate Spade’s products, the store’s design is at once bold and graphic, but also warm and inviting. Kramer Design Group’s concept for the Aoyama flagship has created a retail experience that, like the brand it represents, will likely feel fresh for years to come. 

Photos by Tsutomu Tanaka

SOURCE LIST

Kate Spade New York. Interior Designer Kramer Design Group. Architect Plax Co. Ltd. Client Kate Spade New York. 1,535 total square feet on two floors. Cost/sf Withheld at client’s request.

Where
Tokyo, Japan.

Who
Architect: Plax Co. Ltd. Interior designer: Kramer Design Group. Interior design project team: Robin Kramer, principal/creative director; Kate Russell, design director; Kelly Shields, designer; Shelli Decker, designer; Loren Fox-Dunne, designer.

What
Custom wallcovering, checkerboard flooring, starburst light fixtures, roller shades, lounge seating, and library shelving: Kramer Design Group. Paint: Benjamin Moore.

 


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