In 2019, signature German shoemaker Birkenstock opened their second company-owned retail store in the U.S. Located in Venice Beach, California on Abbot Kinney Boulevard along the famous mile-long strip known for eclectic retail boutiques, restaurants and galleries, TPG Architecture worked with the Birkenstock team to design a space that honours the brand and its new neighbourhood.
PREMIER RETAIL MAGAZINE spoke to Alec Zaballero, Managing Executive of TPG Architecture all about this new venture. He said:
“To begin with, when it comes to retail strategy, brands often choose locations based on the market in that area. Abbot Kinney is a burgeoning retail thoroughfare in the heart of Venice Beach – a fashionable neighbourhood uniquely aligned with Birkenstock’s brand and clientele.
“The Birkenstock team felt that the design prototype that debuted in the SoHo store truly captured the brand, and they wanted to bring that same brand character and aesthetic to Abbot Kinney while adding a bit of local flair. Venice Beach is known for its 1930s bungalows-turned-storefronts, and our goal was to honour that tradition through our design. We were able to lean into the energy of the area by creating a Birkenstock-style beach bungalow, which speaks to the local character while evoking Birkenstocks brand aesthetic.”
The store reflects the rich history of the brand and incorporates core materials including cork and leather to create a light, bright and naturally comfortable space.
Alec said: “The store is divided into two main sections. As you enter, customers are greeted by the wooden beach bungalow which houses a selection of shoes and is accessorised with beachy features such as a cork surfboard hung from the exposed wood rafters. The second area is a garden patio seating area which really connects with the local flavour and Southern California lifestyle. The overall design embodies the history of the brand by incorporating core materials including cork and leather into design elements. The mural on the back wall, made in partnership with a Southern California artist, makes the space unique and aligned with the existing environment.”
In more detail, the welcome area reflects the décor of a “California-Cool” inspired home with colourful rugs and soft lighting. Inside the store, guests enjoy the full Birkenstock collection for women, men and kids, including shoes, boots, socks, belts and the new BIRKENSTOCK NATURAL SKIN CARE line on custom-made wooden tables and inside shadow boxes along the walls. Weathered, wood panels reminiscent of the boardwalk line the walls, and the exposed beams above further echo the prominent skate and surf culture in the area.
Past the cash wrap area, guests are invited outside to an al fresco patio. Thanks to the year-round warm weather, the space functions as a lounge for guests and provides an area for the store to host exclusive events. Two prominent art pieces are incorporated into the space – a colourful mural by California artist Andy Davis, and sculptures of iconic Birkenstock styles made by artist Inga Guzyte of recycled skateboard decks.
“The main challenge on this project was to create a store that honoured the brand’s connection to California culture while embodying the modern, fashion-driven character of the brand. This involved adapting the design prototype to create a blend of the Abbot Kinney aesthetic with the Birkenstock identity. We had to find elements that would transition the two inspirations together seamlessly in a unified space. However, we have received a lot of positive feedback so far. The resulting design for the brand’s second retail location in the U.S. brings a unique retail experience to the heavily-trafficked shopping area.
“All in all, with TPG Architecture, our clients get the full experience––from a cohesive brand story, innovative retail strategy, and commercial success to an on-time and under-budget delivery. Working with the Birkenstock team made the process both rewarding and exciting; we really understood what they were looking for, and they trusted us to approach the design through the brands lens. The positive synergy of that relationship made the project very meaningful to me; it felt like we were really working as two-halves of a coin to reach the same goal.”