Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - 112
Bergdorf Goodman is an iconic New York store,
synonymous with luxury and a certain kind of uptown
class. Unlike other department stores that have
chased-and, of late, often closed-far-flung
outposts, Bergdorf's, as it is simply called, occupies
a single location, with its women's and men's
departments across the street from each other.
Founded in 1901, the retailer first took up its current
residence, a chateaulike palace of fashion,
at Fifth Avenue between 57th and 58th Streets
in Manhattan in 1928.
Meddling with classics is always a tricky
business, so Bergdorf's was very deliberate in how
it approached a recent 15,000 square-foot groundfloor renovation, designed by New York-based
architecture firm MNA. "Bergdorf Goodman wanted
to work with a boutique firm that would give the
company full attention and really take a big picture
view," says Jeff Ruby, a co-principal at MNA who
oversaw the project with Michael Neumann, also
a co-principal. The store's last major renovation
was in the 1990s.
Overall, the MNA design unifies and
extensively renovates existing interiors with
contemporary details, and establishes new jewelry
salons that have their own dedicated entrance
off of 57th Street. Some of the spaces closest
to the Fifth Avenue side of the building had retained
their original details over the years, such as intricate
plasterwork and moldings, which MNA restored.
Elsewhere, the ground floor had been more fully
altered in the past, providing an opportunity for
a unifying reinterpretation by MNA. The succession
of interiors now feels coherent and in line with
the Bergdorf Goodman heritage and atmosphere.
A cool, neutral palette of white and gray is
carried throughout the various rooms. "The fixtures
and materiality tie all [of] the spaces together," Ruby
says. "In particular, lighting was very important.
The chandeliers, old and new, are a key thread."
The historic lobby contains four crystaland-brass chandeliers and inlaid stone floors
with plaster details. Here, handbags and large
accessories are displayed in curved glass-and-metal
cases with elaborate decorative elements. MNA
treated the lobby with deference, mostly restoring
the original details and using them as inspiration
for the intervention. "It was very important to create
a unified design, combining the traditional with
the more modern," Neumann says.
As a stylistic link, the accessories room
beyond the lobby was updated with a similar stone
floor pattern, featuring diamonds with a boldly
enlarged bowtie motif. The concept of a chandelier
is reinterpreted as an illuminated central display
wall to create a focal point that also shows
Inspired by faceted gemstone designs
of the 1920s and the 1930s, the jewelry display
area is completely refreshed. Jewels are showcased
in a room laid with dappled gray carpet; its subtle,
irregular dots lending a soft, naturalistic feel.
This contrasts with the crisp and sharply beveled
gray-pickled wall panels punctuated with inset
vitrines and mirrors, which add a contemporary
edge. Crystal sconces contribute to the chandelier
motif. Elegant faceted display cases with delicate
metal hardware echo the forms of the wall panels.
The effect is that of a jewelry box with a plush
lining, the perfect environment to showcase
Bergdorf's most precious wares.
While staying true to the Bergdorf Goodman
brand, MNA's update has improved the shopping
experience and subtly renewed the grand store. c
JANUARY | FEBRUARY 2018