Steuben's New Showroom Emphasizes Sparkle
Taking cues from museum design, the company creates a crystal palace in Manhattan
Getting out of the customers way helped Steuben Glass eliminate a stodgy image. The company recently moved its Manhattan flagship from a Fifth Avenue space it had occupied since 1959 to new digs on Madison Avenue, ditching the tuxedoed doorman and the attendants in maid uniforms. Too formal. Too unapproachable.
The old store stood back behind a plaza, but the new one is right up on the sidewalk positioned to grab the attention of passersby.
Inside, Steuben brought the glass out from the cases and under the counters and brought light in to show it off.
Two bays of 25-ft.-high windows open the facade so the double-height sales floor and circular mezzanine can be seen from the street. Flooded with light from outdoors, the character of the room and the glass changes constantly. At night, a computer-generated light program bounces a dancing rainbow thats refracted from every piece of glass on display.
Its a room that never sleeps, Ralph Applebaum of Ralph Applebaum Associates, a design company best known for museum installations, tells Visual Merchandising & Store Design magazine.
Affluent customers want to inspect merchandise closely to learn about it so open shelves are the rule. Some shelves and walls are lined with deep blue faux suede to set off the brilliance of the glass. Stock pieces are displayed in a long, open cabinet with changeable shelf liners that run the length of one wall. Display fixtures include a series of large and small cylinder pedestals and cone-like tables lighted from within. Displays are also modern and movable, allowing for fast and frequent display changes.
Steuben hosts numerous exhibitions by art organizations, events that help draw hip, knowledge-seeking patrons.
by Mark E. Dixon
Open shelves and blue faux suede bring Steuben Glass closer to its customers in its new Madison Avenue location.