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The Estée Lauder Cos.-owned makeup artist brand has created a new retail format on the second floor of a historic building in Manhattan's Flatiron District. It is designed not only to be a retail outlet, but also an education center for the industry and a new way to communicate with makeup artists, said James Gager, senior vice president and creative director of MAC Worldwide.
"The original space was something neither Sheila [Choi, vice president of store design for MAC Worldwide] nor I designed, and when I first saw it I was shocked, because it looked like any other retail space," said Gager. "It didn't fit the profile of what I thought MAC Pro should represent. When we had the opportunity to acquire a new space, we were excited to build our dream store from the ground up. Hopefully, this will be a great stepping stone for building similar facilities in key international cities. We're being evolutionary, not revolutionary."
The 6,000-square-foot space, a collaboration between Gager, Choi and Tim Tareco, vice president of visual merchandising for MAC Worldwide, is intended to resemble a futuristic laboratory.
"We had a vision of old chem lab meets the world of color," said Gager, gesturing to a full wall of color pigments in mason jars, a futuristic photo studio and a loftlike library space with modernist furniture. Products are shown on wood display tables resembling halved trees, while a metal mixing area will eventually allow makeup artists to custom-blend their own colors (Gordon Espinet, vice president of makeup artistry, hopes to have the custom program up and running by yearend). Oiled metal cabinets hold stock overflow.
"We incorporated many different building materials: a coupling of acrylic, slate, rough wood and metal," said Gager. "It's a warm space, but it's also incredibly clean, simple and inviting."
Added Choi, "The space is like a work lab environment with a twist. The rawness stems from the basic unpretentious materials, salvaged wood, concrete blocks, metal chain-link, etc., but the impact is from the scale and unexpected usage and combination of these materials."