STORY, New York
For the past six years, sisters Rachel and Jenny Shechtman—founder and COO of New York retail space STORY, respectively—have been installing new environments in their storefront concept space in West Chelsea, about a block from the High Line. Themes, which change every three to eight weeks, have included love, wellness, and being home for the holidays, each showcasing its own relevant spatial design and merchandise.
The most recent iteration, which popped up for eight weeks in April and May, was called “Work/Space,” a topic that continues to prompt constant conversation as businesses and workers wrestle with open versus closed environments, co-working, and the merger of home and work life.
“We think of ourselves as a magazine that comes to life, and this is a topic that everyone is talking about,” says Jenny.
STORY teamed up with Chicago architect David Dewane, consultant and curator Aaron Dignan, and Blu Dot creative lead Nadia Haddad, who together created a modern, informal environment that would explore emerging ideas in workplace design while also creating an exciting, diverse place to shop.
Designed to optimize productivity
Dewane’s concept, inspired by theories in Cal Newport’s book Deep Work, is based on the Greek concept of “Eudaimonia,” which is a state of overall happiness and healthiness. His physical manifestation, which he calls the “Eudaimonia Machine,” consists of a progression of five interconnected spaces that are designed, as he puts it, “to unlock our potential as co-workers and creators.” This pop-up was a modified version of his plans for offices, which don’t, of course, contain merchandise and other shopping opportunities.
“This is an environment made specifically for knowledge workers, whose jobs are very cognitively demanding,” Dewane says.. “Usually that involves deep focus on a hard problem for some period of time. But we’re also social animals. We want to come out of that focus and be social again.”
Visitors to STORY’s Work/Space moved continuously from zone to zone, divided informally by sheetrock walls with large cut-out entryways and built into STORY’s permanent palette of polished concrete floors, floor-to-ceiling windows, and ceiling-mounted track lights. Each space—an evolving collaboration between the creative team and the clients—contained room-specific graphics, merchandise, and Blu Dot fittings, furnishings, and lighting.
“Our brand tends to be more accessible, more user friendly, than other higher-end modern furniture brands. Rachel liked that,” says Maurice Blanks, co-founder of Blu Dot, who also appreciated the ability to experiment with the merger of office, residential, and retail design.
Zones foster creativity and concentration
The first of the space’s five zones was the Gallery, which contained motivational books, clothing, and accessories, hanging on walls, and resting on walnut tables, shale dressers, and white bookshelves. Introductory wall text, including a “Letter from the Editor,” explained the concept and mapped out how to navigate the experience.
“This area is about positive peer pressure,” Dewane says. “It sends a message that this place honors positive creativity.”
That area flowed directly into the Salon, an open space fitted with couches, lounge chairs, ottomans, floor lamps, coffee and side tables,and a small cafe serving Starbucks coffee and other beverages—all meant to encourage lounging, socializing, and shopping.
Guests then wound past temporary walls attached to bookshelves to the Office, an open space centered on a large Strut table lined with Real Good folded metal chairs and wall-mounted shelves, containing work and home-related objects like planners, how-to guides, and scented candles. One wall contained a colorful collaborative art piece based on shopper/worker feedback, organized by artist Giorgia Lupi. From here, visitors moved directly into the Library, with its shelves full of books on productivity and motivation and its soft lighting via Trace 4 Pendants, and navy and copper Punk Lamps.
Finally, guests made their way to the Chamber, an unadorned white area containing two closet-like rooms meant for heads-down work. “It doesn’t have anything distracting,” Dewane says. “Just a desk and a chair, and you sit down and you crank.”
According to Schectman, every one of the Deep Work chamber times was reserved in a single day, adding that customers love to socialize and shop in the varied spaces, which each take on their own personality and provide an energizing, engaging progression of experiences. The compilation, she notes, has attracted a whole new set of customers, including many that don’t know anything about STORY, through walk-ins, word of mouth, and special events.
With each new installation, STORY—which recently was bought by Macy’s—aims to bring to light a new theme, trend, or issue. Work/Space hits the mark, prompting dialogue about the components of a productive workplace and the future of office design. c
who Architect: David Dewane. Interior Designer: Blu Dot. Consultants: David Dewane; Aaron Dignan.
what Interior lighting/workstations/tables/storage systems: Blu Dot.