After stepping outside of a Lower East Side restaurant one Sunday afternoon, I was struck by a New York moment. It was not my first, nor even my fiftieth, but this brief moment in time struck a chord and composed a beautiful symphony of discovery.
The rain felt like water balloons and my umbrella was nonexistent. As I scrambled to hail a cab on Orchard, a bright sign with a two-word logo lockup caught my eye. Reed Space, one of the world’s most innovative boutiques, became my safe haven that day.
As an enthusiast for this lifestyle brand, I am intrigued by the consumer experience Staple Design, the brand’s originator, has curated at retail. Reed Space is owned and operated by the agency’s founder Jeff Ng, who has expanded the company to three divisions since its inception in 1997: a creative agency, a clothing collection and a commercial store in NYC and Japan. This equation has positioned Staple as one of the more influential and trendsetting brands today.
After stepping inside of their retail space for the first time, I found myself enthralled by the very items that Staple Design is NOT widely known for: art, gadgets and accessories. The door opens up to a long narrow corridor; the right wall is lined with book after book sitting atop about one hundred white chairs that are seamlessly woven together as elevated shelving.
The rest of the store carries a grip of art and merchandise that looks and feels on-brand. Is this surprising? No. Does it represent a best-in-class boutique experience at retail? Yes. Not only does Reed Space have an art gallery next door (Reed Space Annex), the minimalistic store design brings their product offerings front and center. Plush wood sits beneath collections of graphic tees and sneakers. Jackets and button-ups run parallel to the clean white walls that frame this mecca of streetwear.
Google.com defines boutique as “a business that serves a sophisticated or specialized clientele.” The under-the-radar nature of these shops is both mysterious and fascinating. Across NYC and abroad, these formats make it a point to go unnoticed to the general public through innovative signage, faux storefronts and unique store locations. The end goal is not to earn extravagant profits but to connect with humans in new, engaging and innovative ways.
Reed Space and many other boutiques around the world have become a destination for consumers to discover, learn and educate themselves beyond the very products they purchase.