Field Trip :: Barney's New York

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Written by Alyce Packard, BID Candidate

Barney's New York is an American luxury department store located all over the United States. The one I visited is located on the first and second floor at Copley Place (travel through the Prudential Center to reach it, they are connected by an indoor bridge). I'd never heard of Barney's until today but it definitely left an impression. The store is flawless and classic. You probably wouldn't shop here unless you planned on spending at least $2,000 on a handbag, but the store itself is beautiful. When you walk in from the main entry through the cosmetics area, the floor is made up of marble mosaics in intricate patterns forming sunbursts and octagons. These geometrical forms are used throughout the design of the store, including the staircase, the $1,000,000 staircase.

Photo taken by Alyce Packard
Have you ever seen what a million dollars buys you? The picture above is of the staircase which is located in the center of the store. The entire interior orients around this Y shaped limestone staircase. The stairs have glass railings with mahogany hand rails and lead up to a skylight which invites you to the second floor. The design of the staircase definitely accentuates the overall design of the store which has an open floor plan. They definitely kept it simple but added some really unique interesting details.

Photo taken by Alyce Packard
This skylight was actually already part of the interior before Barney's got there. The interior designer, Jeffrey Hutchison, turned a 1980s movie theater and food court into this beautiful store which is now a Barney's. The Y shape of the stair was meant to be like a fork in the road; it offered the shopper a choice and went beyond just typical circulation. The store isn't shy about looking expensive, it's going for that luxe level by its use of materials. The whole first floor uses bleached oak and limestone which is reflective of the staircase and the second floor uses a honey-colored oak and bleached mahogany. 

Photo taken by Alyce Packard
Barneys has a few unexpected twists that were installed by New York artists. For example, for the racks of clothing they use a metal pole that juts from the ceiling, acts as a rack, then goes back into the ground so that it acts as both a sculpture and a merchandising tool. They also use their mannequins in a unique way. They stage them to interact with the customers and some of the mannequins faces are like paint smudges, the heads just continue up like the tail of a comet. Hutchison says, "In retail, you need to attract people through the uniqueness of the store, then give them lots of reasons to stay."