Designed to slow pedestrians on Park Avenue down, De-Spec oversaw the transformation of a 2,400-square-foot retail space for Manfredi, an international jewelry store originally from Italy. Modeled after a camera lens, De-Spec’s spatial programming and design came from close observation: speed. The façade, window displays and interior design direct one’s attention to the depth of field beyond, while creating an inviting transition from street to shop for seamless views of precious jewelry.
As one crosses the threshold into the store, the bright daylight outside fades into a soft, low-lit interior, and all sensory activity is brought into focus. Inspired by the idea of ‘mise en abyme’ as a process of self-reflection induced by a recursive environment, the charcoal black interior palette, framed by a series of LED-lit glass panels, creates the illusion of a room within a room.
Through site-specific and conceptual programming, De-Spec came up with a design for a transitional space to mediate this change in speed, to adjust one’s focus from distant to near. Modeled after a camera lens, the store’s glass facade enables focus on the backlit jewelry display, while also directing attention to the depth of field beyond. The interior display cases, made of steel lined with black leather, support a minimal arrangement of kaleidoscopic jewelry. The extraction of gems mined from precious rocks in the Earth inspired the feeling of a cavernous space, but also provided the impetus to use materials which are less damaging to the environment.
The design uses black slate and steel on the walls, ceramic and faux leather on the floor, engineered wood for the millwork and steel for all showcases and furniture. The arrangement of lighting on the ceiling draws from constellation patterns, recalling ancient landscapes and the archaeology of gems.