Two years is a considerable length of time to realise most things, let alone a retail store. Yet true to form, the audio company Sonos refused to be rushed when it came to conceiving and unveiling its first flagship store, located in the heart of Soho in New York.
Armed with an enticing design concept from Partners & Spade, the sprawling, two-floor space is centred on the fact that most listening experiences happen in the home. It was thus a no-brainer for the Sonos team to recreate several different home settings as the backbone of the in-store experience.
The focal point of the 4,200 sq ft space is a series of seven listening rooms, each kitted out with Sonos’ range of equipment, from its single smart speaker 'Play 1' to the all-encompassing 'Play 5' speaker, in various configurations. Custom-built and insulated with four layers of acoustic sheet rock for walls, and a 2,000lb steel and beveled glass door that ensures sound is perfectly contained and reflected in each cosy space, the listening rooms are also individually appointed with specially commissioned artwork from local artists featuring strong music connections.
‘The intention is to allow the music to do the talking, making it easy for everyone to experience Sonos exactly as they would at home, even though they are in the retail environment,’ says Sonos’ Giles Martin. ‘Each room has been acoustically designed to replicate a great home listening environment.’
Optimised listening conditions are present all around the store too. The space’s decorative ceiling actually conceals black, sound-absorbing foam to balance out the audio bounce back from the store’s reflective surfaces, while perforated steel doors for storage areas and panels for walls allow sound to pass through them, while also referencing the design of Sonos’ products.
One of the store’s most memorable features comes in the form of a seventh listening room located on its lower level. Fitted with Dieter Rams’ iconic music control unit, tape recorder and loudspeaker (currently only for display) and his record player for Braun, visitors can listen to an extensive collection of records on the player, which is hooked up to Sonos’ 'Play 5' speakers. The compelling display of music past and present proves that we don’t have to choose one option; rather, we can have it all.