Streetwise fashion brand opens flagship store in West Hollywood.
The minimalist flagship location for Road to Awe (RtA) is as streetwise as the clothes displayed within its walls. Los Angeles architect Dan Brunn, AIA, principal of Dan Brunn Architecture, created a 1,200-sq.-ft. dream-like space with complex geometric precision, meditative sensations, and positive/negative dualities. Graced with exposure to Melrose Avenue on two sides, the streamlined West Hollywood boutique proclaims its presence to the public with angled black façades and an illuminated white logo. The design won the 2017 Westside Urban Forum Design Honor Award for retail projects.
“For RtA, we wanted to provide a special L.A. shopping experience that reflects the brand and entices clientele,” said Brunn. “The design aims to intentionally layer the senses from mystery to voyeurism to juxtaposition. These contrasts turn the space inside out and create an unexpected yet memorable environment for patrons.”
The three-year-old fashion brand is co-designed by French-born Eli Azran and L.A. native David Rimokh. The clothes are made in Los Angeles for both women and men. The designers believe that clothing should be used as a form of expression and be effortless and chic. “Designing anything is a process, but designing a store to fit your brand is a talent,” said Rimokh. “Dan really understood the DNA of the brand and created an environment that reflects our customer culture.”
Brunn renovated a 1970s building to create the new retail space, maintaining its original footprint, but completely reshaping its geometry to create a more cohesive, sculptural experience. Instead of installing typical, full-height storefronts that allow the merchandise to be viewed at a glance, Brunn reduced the amount of exterior glass to create a more exclusive and voyeuristic atmosphere. A large window is set at an angle to face traffic moving east, while smaller windows provide interior views at the pedestrian scale. An added sense of mystery is achieved by the new “floating” canopy in front of the building. A floor-to-ceiling pivoting door seamlessly blends with the black exterior when closed, and generously welcomes shoppers when open.
Inside the 10-ft.-tall space, a circular interior garden, featuring an olive tree surrounded by grass and a curved wooden bench, contributes calm and brings a mannered sense of nature into the scene. The tree is planted under a skylight that mirrors the turf/bench circle and filters sunshine into the space. This introduction of nature is meant to provide the “awe” represented by the fashion brand.
Merchandise display areas stretch along the sides of the 30-ft. x 40-ft. space composed of concrete floors, black mirrors, wood surfaces, and blackened steel beams. Clothing is hung on a custom hardware system of suspended roller tracks set into soffits and beams. Hangers can easily slide to reveal the layers of merchandise or be moved aside to accommodate special events. Custom-designed wooden cases extending to the beams rotate to reveal mirrors or positive/negative insets that display for-sale books and accessories.
At the rear of the store, a fitting room and bathroom flank a generous waiting area with a long, cantilevered blackened-steel bench where friends/stylists can sit while customers try on clothes. Not merely a changing/waiting area, this nook serves as a catwalk for customers, as the large fitting room door swings open to reveal a 9-ft. x 8-ft. mirror. The space is completely clad in ash on the floor, ceiling, and walls to unify the area. A backlit “T”—formed by slots and recesses in the wood surfaces—takes on the asymmetry of RtA’s logo lower-case letter, further symbolizing the brand.
In addition to the Los Angeles location, Brunn has been commissioned to design RtA’s next retail space in New York City. Brunn uses provocative spatial choreography to harmonize light with volume. Inspired by the Bauhaus architecture of his native Tel Aviv, he reinterprets Modernist principles in minimalist designs for living, shopping, and dining. Brunn’s portfolio includes furniture design.