Client: Flight Club
Location: New York, NY, United States
Completion date: 2016
Hank Willis Thomas
Flight Club is a Mecca for sneaker collectors and urban fashionistas around the world. Our charge was to double the flagship store in an existing loft building in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Our goal was to create a clean space within the existing shell of the loft building. We designed the store to keep the feeling that this is an appropriation of the existing space- riffing off of the existing infrastructure. To achieve this we stripped the existing space down to its structural elements and let these define the backdrop for the product.
Flight Club commissioned contemporary works or art that reference urban recreational spaces like basketball courts, handball courts, and playgrounds as well as the activity and iconography of sports. The goal was to provide a broader context for the product (sneakers) and for the urban/ fashion milieu. Juxtaposing art with the merchandise also suggests a reconsideration of both.
Five pieces were commissioned in total, all centered on the urban recreational reference with distinct perspectives from each of the artists. Each artist was selected because their work already addressed these themes and this context. The pieces complement each other perfectly with subject matter that is complimentary although the formal and physical qualities of the work are very distinct and retain their personal identity. The artwork is meant to be changed and updated. Zones of wall and ceiling have been designated as installation zones to facilitate this evolving process. Although specifically commissioned for the space, the works are also independent pieces that are not “built into” the architecture. This follows the idea of preserving the “found” industrial/historic shell as the iconic envelop for the entire store.
Flight Club commissioned the works directly, allowing each artist freedom to propose their own expressions of the theme. This approach is very much aligned with the design approach of the space aimed at stripping away layers of accumulated interventions and revealing an austere clarity.
The simple and streamlined design suggests luxury based on authenticity and sincerity. Materials and waste were also minimized. In this way, this design is highly responsive to environmental concerns. Because this is a consignment store, there is an aspect of community. Many of the buyers are also the sellers through the consignment process. The simple and elegant space encloses a fluid community with changing roles. The inclusion of art is a further expression of the community and the link with a lifestyle beyond a purely transactional purchase.