ANY designs New York showroom and research library for Vowels

New York studio ANY has designed the first physical retail space for streetwear brand Vowels, including an 18-metre-long “library” that holds a rotating collection of design books.

The appointment-only showroom at 76 Bowery in Manhattan opened to coincide with the launch of Vowels’ debut “made in Japan” capsule collection.

The Vowels showroom in Manhattan contrasts raw concrete and crisp white walls

Creative director Yuki Yagi worked with ANY co-founder Nile Greenberg to create a multi-functional environment that can display apparel, host events and offer customers access to a curation collection of books.

The narrow space features exposed concrete surfaces and exposed services, contrasted by a minimalist white volume inserted on one side.

White exhibition space with a wooden trunk and an open wood door
The space includes a compact exhibition area called the Study that will feature rotating displays

At the front, this box forms an exhibition space named the Study that’s visible from the street through the fully glazed facade.

Hosting a rotating display of objects and artworks, the exhibitions will inform the collection of printed materials displayed in the store.

Exhibition of Edo-period Japanese furniture in a white room
The opening exhibition features Edo-period Japanese furniture sourced in the Yamanashi Prefecture

A large wooden door swing over a hole in the clean white wall that allows access into the showcase, while the same richly grained material forms a sales counter at the other end of the showroom.

Meanwhile, the rare books, magazines and periodicals are stored and presented within a long, glossy black case that stretches 60 feet (18 metres) through the centre of the showroom.

A case filled with hundreds of rare design books
A custom case filled with hundreds of rare design books stretches through the centre of the showroom

“The curated selection, categorised by the Vowels team of researchers and designers, is organised using a system that follows the letters A, E, I, O, and U,” the team said.

“This archive of printed materials is part of Yagi’s personal collection, serving as reference and inspiration throughout his career.”

Visitors are encouraged to peruse the collection, and use computers equipped with high-resolution scanners to make digital copies of materials.

“The space at once recalls both a clean working environment and a comfortable reading room,” said the brand.

Vowels' debut capsule collection displayed on a minimalist rail
Vowels’ debut capsule collection is displayed towards the rear

Towards the back of the showroom is a wider area where a platform with bleacher seating and speakers built into mesh boxes is used for programming like film screenings, talks, panel discussions and music performances.

Coffee service with beans sourced from Japan and the Vowels capsule collection are also accommodated in the rear space, while photos of the campaign shot by renowned Japanese photographer Takashi Homma are displayed alongside the library.

Showroom and exhibition space visible through a fully glazed facade, past scafolding
Both the showroom and exhibition space are visible through the fully glazed facade on Bowery

The Vowels showroom borders the Lower East Side neighbourhood, where many streetwear brands have physical shops and showrooms.

Other recent additions to the retail scene in the area include the yellow-hued Le Père store by BoND and the checkerboard-wrapped Awake NY space by Rafael de Cárdenas.

The photography is by Dean Kaufman.

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