Mulberry has opened its first US flagship store, on New York City's Spring Street. The 5,000 sq ft space in SoHo follows the 2010 opening of a dedicated New York showroom at Milk Studios and further emphasises the brand's commitment to the US market.
Spring Street continues and builds on the design language developed for our London flagship store on New Bond Street, adding a few key features to suit the building's history and location. The first stage was a restoration project, which focused on preserving as many of the original features of the light industrial building as possible, in what was formerly the city's printing district, including the tin ceilings, the highly detailed structural columns and the super-long skylight.
The core concept for the store is an evolution of the UK flagship, which was originally conceived as an abstract, gallery-like white box into which a series of detailed, textural installations would be placed. The key Mulberry pieces - the brass folly and a monolithic service desk - have been imported from the New Bond Street design to Spring Street. In addition, Spring Street pays homage to its American roots and location with pieces such as light oak framed display cases to bring contrast to the store, both metaphorically - English versus American - and literally - old versus new and craft versus industrial.
Key to both Spring Street and New Bond Street are the circular follies. In London, the folly is architectural, referencing the taste for whimsical structures in the great English gardens. In Spring Street, the folly takes its inspiration from the site's history as a printer and book storage, and has been created from more than 8,000 hardback books. These, with their spines hidden and their page edges facing outwards, form a series of walls of varying heights in the centre of the store.
The variation of texture and tone of these lovely old books creates a rhythm that recalls the texture and pulse of the dry stone wall that winds around the edge of the New Bond Street store. In both London and Spring Street, the follies enclose the footwear area, creating a sense of intimacy and comfort.
As well as specifically paying tribute to the site's history, the books are also reminiscent of the library that is so central to the eclectic style of the English country house - and of course the English countryside is an essential ingredient of Mulberry's brand character.
Additional flexibility is given to the Spring Street space by the use of 'crates,' which can be stacked and arranged to create tables, benches and plinths.
The floor of Spring Street is a rich black timber, which provides an elegant contrast to the monolithic brass service desk and white lacquered surfaces, both features imported from the complementing UK flagship store. The brass motif is repeated and amplified with bespoke artwork created for the store by Jonathan Ellery, who also created installations for New Bond Street.
One of the original features of the building, the long skylight, was particularly badly damaged but after undergoing extensive restoration plays an essential part in the store, allowing natural light to drop into the space from above.
The concept has been created by Universal Design Studio, with whom Mulberry has been working for the past three years. Spring Street is the second major flagship to be completed by the team following the launch of the new New Bond Street store in December 2010. Executive architect Spacesmith completes the team and has been responsible for the implementation of the concept.
The production of the store and its commissioned features has given a wealth of interesting content that both Mulberry fans and those interested in design and architecture will appreciate.
To this end, a video has been made for on mulberry.com, which explores aspects of the design and build process. There is an interview with Mike Smith, who is the head of the design and fabrication studio in London where the book folly was constructed, as well as interviews with conceptual artist Jonathan Ellery. We also speak to Rick Bell - the executive director of the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects - who speaks about the architectural and industrial history of SoHo. The short film seeks to show the inspiration and significance of the two main artistic features of the store, as well as demonstrate how the design of the London flagship has been reinterpreted for Spring Street.
To celebrate the brand's love affair with the Big Apple, Mulberry has produced two exclusive bag designs. The New York Clipper is a customized version of a classic Mulberry style, featuring New York-inspired detailing, colours and hardware. It is a Glossy Buffalo leather bag that comes in red, white or blue (of course!), with a luggage tag showcasing the exclusive Mulberry "peace, love and apple" motif. The Clipper will retail for $950 (£595). For the ultimate luxury treat, they have also created an exclusive Alexa bag design - made in Oak Ostrich and covered in dozens of gold apple-shaped rivets. Only 10 are available, retailing for $6250 (£4000) each. Both the Clipper and Alexa will be available on US stores as well as on the US mulberry.com.