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Post-Prada, OMA Reimagines Retail for Coach

By Fred Bernstein
August 8, 2012
Image © OMA
A rendering of OMA's plan for a New York City Coach store shows a system of illuminated transparent blocks of glass and acrylic.

Between its Fourth of July fireworks and its Thanksgiving Day parade, Macy’s will unveil another spectacle: A 2,000-square-foot Coach outlet designed by OMA, the firm founded by Rem Koolhaas in 1975. The outlet, on the ground floor of Macy’s Herald Square flagship, is scheduled to open in September and will be followed in 2013 by another in Tokyo’s Omotesando district.

Image © OMA
A rendering of OMA's plan for the Tokyo Coach store in the city's Omotesando neighborhood.
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Both are the work of OMA’s increasingly busy New York office, headed by partner Shohei Shigematsu, 39, a 15-year veteran of the firm. OMA is no stranger to fashion retailing – in 2004, Koolhaas spearheaded the publication of the Harvard Design School Guide to Shopping, an exhaustive text on the sociology, psychology, ad economics of retail. And in 2001, it unveiled a lavish Prada store on Broadway in Manhattan, the brainchild of Koolhaas and OMA devotee Miuccia Prada.

Prada’s counterpart at Coach is Reed Krakoff, the 70-year-old company’s ambitious, design-savvy president, who has taken it from a narrowly-focused purveyor of leather goods to a much broader luxury products brand. That has vastly increased Coach’s revenue but also “clouded the clarity of its store design,” according to Shigematsu. To recall the simple, library-like shelving of vintage Coach stores, OMA developed a display system of illuminated transparent blocks. Some are glass, others acrylic, depending on “site conditions and use,” says Shigematsu. He worked closely with Krakoff and Coach’s in-house design team, and OMA project architect Rami Abou-Khalil, on the design.

Shigematsu is responsible for several other OMA projects in the U.S., including Marina Abramovic’s proposed performance art center in Hudson, N.Y., and an addition to the Saxony Hotel in Miami Beach. And, he said, the firm will be announcing another retail initiative—a collaboration with “an American denim company” that he declined to name—later this month.

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