‘A place for the eye to pause’: Ulla Johnson unveils New York HQ
The Manhattan-born fashion designer opens a warmly-hued style sanctuary, created in collaboration with architect Rafael de Cárdenas
At a time when businesses in all sectors are weighing up the need for physical space, Ulla Johnson has optimistically doubled down, lavishly outfitting a new lofty, light-flooded Manhattan showroom for her fashion brand. In partnership with architect Rafael de Cárdenas, Johnson has created a new home for her company that reflects her appreciation of artisanal crafts, both global and local, and a focus on natural materials: travertine, marble, wood, brass and plaster, which, says Johnson, ‘all have a tactile energy and a timeless sense of luxury’.
‘Many of the things that were important to me when opening our two stores were also key with this showroom: creating a transportive space that feels intimate and inviting, with places for the eye to pause, and areas for one to occupy that feel residential rather than commercial,’ she adds. The 2,100 sq ft showroom, where buying appointments and company meetings will take place, is located in the same building as her existing company headquarters, in SoHo, and a stone’s throw from the label’s 15 Bleecker Street flagship store.
The airy interior flows seamlessly from an intimate reception area into a welcoming lounge and expansive showroom, with white oak parquet floors laid in a design to subtly mirror the ceiling architecture. Johnson and de Cárdenas both have a knack for creating ambience from details; for example, walls throughout are finished in hand-trowelled white plaster mixed with mother-of-pearl to create a subtle lustre.
Johnson chose to work with de Cárdenas for his approach that balances tranquility with modernity. Together they have created a restful sanctuary using warm, neutral tones of blush, stone, sand and alabaster for the finishes as well as the furniture. The space is outfitted with custom-made furniture commissioned from local producers – such as the hand-travished Filipino mahogany screen doors by Brooklyn-based Green River Project – and those further afield, such as Italian tile specialist Sicis, which supplied the glass mirrored backdrop for the accessories display area. Additionally, pieces from Johnson’s personal design collection have been integrated, including a vintage Ingo Maurer bamboo pendant, a travertine Angelo Mangiarotti display table at the centre of the lounge, and a Paul Kingma mosaic coffee table.
‘There is a kind of quiet exuberance throughout,’ says de Cárdenas, ‘yet no detail obtrudes so much as to interrupt the simple breadth and warmth of the overall space.’ §