In the late 1880s, The Frye Co. was a Massachusetts-based manufacturer of work boots for local millworkers; today, it is a “leather lifestyle” company offering its top-selling $350 women’s riding boot as well as handbags and accessories. The brand’s selling points are high quality and authenticity, and an important aspect of the store’s 16 retail outlets across the United States is that each has a local identity. “We want to morph the concept while keeping the brand aesthetic the same, so the store feels more like it’s locally owned rather than cookie-cutter and corporate,” says Jamie Laycock, vice president of store environments and visual merchandising. For the Denver store, Lochte Architectural Group—which has offices in San Francisco and Sacramento, Calif.—drew inspiration from mountain lodges to create a setting that would resonate with the community.
In charge of designing the last several Frye stores, Lochte Architectural Group specializes in luxury retail design and also counts Prada, Céline, and Valentino among its regular clients.
“Many luxury brands have a very well-defined concept that they want to replicate, so the ability to work with a changing palette of materials and personalize each location for Frye is a unique opportunity,” says Steve Lochte, president of Lochte Architectural Group. “Frye stores have a modern feel, but are warm and rustic at the same time.”
Establishing a residential feel in a commercial setting
The 2,500-square-foot retail space is located on the ground level of an office building a block from Denver’s posh Cherry Creek shopping center. “It was one of the more challenging spaces that we’ve done for Frye, since there was not a lot of opportunity for storefront identity,” Lochte says. To create a sense of warmth, the design team created a cedar-clad portal around the entrance, which continues past the glass wall from the exterior to the interior. They also clad the window mullions in black aluminum, further distinguishing the store from the rest of the building.
The low finished ceiling height—nine to 10 feet, instead of the more typical 12 feet—guided the interior design. Rather than make everything white, the design team painted the ceiling black, covered some of the walls with black crackle-glazed tile, and laid down a stained oak floor to enhance the space’s cozy dimensions. Because the floor plan was L-shaped instead of rectangular, they played up the residential sensibility by creating two rooms, each with its own distinctive finishes and furnishings.
Rustic and refined touches
The front room, which forms the long leg of the “L” and borders the street, is set up as a living area. It introduces the idea of a mountain lodge: walls clad in stone veneer, chairs draped in snuggly shearling, and a gas fireplace with a large surround clad in matte porcelain slate-look tile. Overhead is the signature lighting fixture of all Frye stores: a striking chandelier made from brass and silver boot rings hanging from leather straps, designed by Laycock.
The smaller space at the back of the store—the short leg of the “L”—is defined by a grid of display boxes, which continues up the walls and across the ceiling. The boxes are made from hickory, chosen for its prominent grain and strong color variation; they allow the store to highlight individual products and display different collections. “This design works quite well, and we’ve continued to use it in other stores since,” Laycock says. “They [Lochte Architectural Group] are great at sourcing new materials with an eye to what would be brand-appropriate, given so much heritage.”
who Architect: Lochte Architectural Group. Project team: Stephen Lochte; Anthony Roxas; Sruthi Sekar. Contractor: Elder Jones General Contracting. Lighting: Schwinghammer Lighting LLC. Engineering: Dialectic (MEP).
what Wall Tile: Armourfx. Brick: Fireclay Tile. Stone Veneer: Kodiak Mountain. Hardwood flooring: Columbia Flooring. Carpet: Shaw Carpet Group. Lighting: Intense Lighting; Juno Lighting; Lithonia; Ecosense; Jesco Lighting. Seating: Restoration Hardware, custom. Tables and custom woodworking: JPMA. Signage fabricator: American Sign Crafters.