Made in Manhattan

Made in Manhattan

D-ash design

Godiva chocolate’s new flagship store in New York was created by d-ash design to focus on the luxury of chocolate in spite of design challenges

What is also known as the most expensive street in the world and can be found in Manhattan, New York, now houses Godiva’s new flagship store, created by d-ash design.

Located at 650 Fifth Avenue, the 1,024 square foot chocolate shop signals a return of the brand to the highstreet, where it opened its first boutique in 1972.

It is the first store in the US to feature Godiva’s global brand redesign, which will be implemented across 10 outlets across different cities worldwide. The revamp has been created by Linda Lombardi, vice president of global store design, Godiva and David Ashen, president, d-ash design.

The first of the Godiva boutiques to feature the new interiors concept created by d-ash design, opened in Istanbul’s Nisanti district in 2010.

The team, which included: Gabriel Centrella, senior manager, corporate store planning and global store design, Godiva Chocolatier; Leonard Barszap, project manager and senior designer, d-ash design; and Ned Lager, senior designer, d-ash design, started the initial concept development and planning in August 2010, with the store being completed a year later.

A modern and opulent interiors has been brought to life with the focus being on the luxuriousness of chocolates.

The look pays tribute to the Belgian heritage of Godiva, whilst creating a clean and modern look for the venue. The stunning street level window suggests the degree of detail both in Godiva’s decadent Belgian chocolate confections as well as in the décor of the flagship boutique that houses them.

The window to the shop allows people to catch a quick glimpse of the products inside and customers can enter the store through a detailed Iron Gate, which adds to the opulent atmosphere the team was trying to create.

“The brief for the outlet was to evolve the new design we had created for Godiva in Istanbul — which created a whole new shopping experience and merchandising strategy for the brand – into a flagship store that was worthy of Fifth Avenue,” said Ashen.

He said the concept was to create more of a connection to the product, by bringing in theatre at the storefront, sensuality in the shapes, colours and materials and connect more to the European/Belgian heritage. The aim of carrying out the redesign, with the focus on drama and chocolate, was to elevate the brand and customer experience.

“Our objective was to make the consumer feel totally surrounded, in a sense, not just by chocolate itself but by all the emotions that chocolate conjures — pleasure, indulgence, comfort. Everywhere you turn there’s a different way to enjoy Godiva, a different type of chocolate encounter,” added Ashen.

Upon entering the space, the customer is immediately shown a visual floor-to-ceiling menu of ultimate dessert truffles. The back-lit image introduces the customer to the latest product offerings at the back of the store, which the designers see as beneficial to pulling visitors in and encouraging them to take a look around.

The interiors are characterised by handsome wood accents and bright creams, rendered in an array of rich materials, and an elegantly backlit Lady Godiva emblem overlooks the shop from behind the cashier’s wall, a homage to the brand’s tradition.

Colour changing lighting highlights the boxed seasonal wall display, which creates visual drama, while drawing the customer further into the space.

The walls are a rich chocolate brown with wooden flooring, which complements the gilded accents on the ceilings, shelves and lighting fixtures.

A wooden table called the Godiva Chocolate Runway features a Carrera marble top and espresso-wood base and is placed in a central location of the boutique.

This table showcases the items in a contemporary manner, while maintaining the identity of Belgian luxury through colour and material. Another design feature is the Chocolate Bar Library, which showcases large chocolate bars in different flavours.

The design is open, encouraging customers to move around freely and explore the visual and food delights. Apart from the truffle display case and a small table of truffle boxes near the entrance, all merchandising is found on the walls and is easily visible. The marble-top table of chocolates draws customers into the heart of the shop and leads them around the wall coverings.

The team faced a few challenges in completing the rich look of the boutique. The shape of the outlet is small, and is an odd L-shape.

D-ash design had to consider how to get customers into the back of the store to discover this area. They were able to do this by placing the bulk chocolate display, the heart of the Godiva shopping experience, here.

The narrow, two-storey façade also presented a number of obstacles to d-ash design, primarily because of restrictions on Fifth Avenue store-fronts that limited the amount and type of signage the team could use.

“We had to consider the neighbouring retail tenants. Ultimately, to draw attention to the venue without the use of prohibited lit signage, we decided on a light cream exterior wall colour and the distinctive gold Godiva emblem.

The reflective nature of the gold metal removes the need for lit signage and conveys the brand’s commitment to luxury products,” said Ashen.

In another method to draw customers into the boutique without resorting to lights at the exterior, the designers brought an element of theatre into the store window as well.

“A workstation for the crafting of chocolate-dipped product is framed by the store-front window as viewed from the outside. The performance of dipping and showcasing this product forms an initial attraction and holds the attention of anyone who is passing by,” he added.

Having completed the Manhattan branch, d-ash design is continuing to work on a number of global roll-outs reflecting the store concept, including Harrods in London.

The firm is also working on the first concept outlet for Material Girl, a clothing line by Madonna’s daughter Lourdes, which will open in China in 2012/2013.

In addition to retail stores, it is working on the second Urban Farmer restaurant set to open in Cleveland in 2012. The firm completed the first Portland, Oregon location in 2008. Several projects in the hospitality sector include the Renaissance Hotels in Washington DC and in Charlotte, North Carolina and The Greenwich Hotel, a boutique hotel in Greenwich, Connecticut due to open in Spring 2012.

The customers of the newly-opened boutique have responded positively to the interiors, which has translated into better sales for Godiva.

“The response to the new store design has been amazing, especially to the self-indulgent products such as dipped fruit and bars. There has been an enormous increase in sales in this area,” added Ashen.

The main inspiration for d-ash design while working on Godiva’s flagship shop was, quite naturally, the chocolate.

“Chocolate is such a sensory experience and we wanted to bring that to life in the store. We wanted to create an environment that was not about the packaging, but more about what was in the package,” said Ashen.

Architect of Record: WJCA Architects, Joel Torielli
Contractor: Mackenzie Keck
Fixtures: Fleetwood Fixtures
Pendant Fixture: 3Form
Flooring & Gold Tiles: Architectural Systems, Inc.
Wall Tiles: Budget Interiors
Chocolate Wave Wall: B&N Industries
Wall Finish: Armourcoat
Lady Godiva: Triangle Signs
Storefront: Custom Storefronts, Inc.
Façade Stone: Stone Panels, Inc.
Façade Tiles: Ultraglas, Inc.

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