“Elegant, organic, playful.” This was the inspiration for shoe brand Gray Matters’ recently opened showroom—a 2,000-square-foot contemporary minimalist space where the shoes served as muses.
“We pulled the main color palette from the Gray Matters shoe collection; ochre and blue-gray,” says Bower Studios, the design collective, comprising Jeffrey Renz, Tammer Hijazi, and Danny Giannella, that created the space. “Our material choices were also influenced by Gray Matters’ shoes. Some of the heels are beautifully hand-painted to look like natural stone.”
Anyone familiar with the iconic silhouette of the shoes will likely recognize elements of them throughout the showroom. For example, the Mildred shoes, which feature an egg-shaped heel, were particularly integral to the design of the store. Part showroom, part studio, it includes an entire desk section—and each desk is supported by familiar-looking egg-shaped bases.
Most of what you see is custom, designed over the course of three months by Bower Studios. The archway mirror, situated at the end of an ochre carpet to create “a surreal illusion that the path continues into a passage through the looking glass,” according to Bower Studios, is custom. So is all the lighting and all the furniture.
For Gray Matters designer Silvia Avanzi, custom was the only way to go. “Gray Matters has a strong presence and identity; we wanted the space to speak to the brand identity in terms of color palette, distinctive shapes, and overall tone of voice,” she explains. “We preferred to deconstruct that, rather than thinking of a specific design era or architectural style.”
Which probably explains why the space doesn’t fit neatly into any design cliché: It’s modern yet the ochre color and chunky furniture feel slightly reminiscent of ’70s design. It features soft curves and bold geometric silhouettes and yet it’s overwhelmingly clean and simple.
“We mixed organic shapes, forms like the egg and the flowing carpeted path, with geometric ones, such as the cylindrical stools and circular tables,” says Bower Studio of the juxtaposition. “These two vibes balanced each other nicely. Too much of one might feel random and lost, and too much of the other might feel rigid and lifeless. The combination gave the showroom and office a unique, otherworldly look.”
And as for the shoes, their impact is felt in more than just the inspiration they provided. They’re quite literally the focal point of the space, featuring prominently in rows and rows of recessed shelves along every wall. Because when the product is essentially artwork in its own right, it doubles as decor.
The new Gray Matters showroom is now open at 67 West Street, Suite 501, by appointment only. Schedule your visit on the website today.
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