De-Spec is a design studio founded in 2002 by Tom Shea and Farnaz Mansuri.
The pair says the firm is dedicated to the concept of de-speculation.
“We don’t like to do generic stuff,” Shea says.
And it shows. Their design for a shop in Soho for chocolate brand Xocolatti (that’s Aztec for chocolate) is a case in point. In collaboration with art director Damian Kaufman of Exit Creative, they’ve created a 150-square-foot storefront prototype for a company that’s counting on expansion in the future.
“They saw a jewelry store we did on Park Avenue,” Mansuri says. “Their family is in the jewelry business – and this store presents chocolate that looks like jewelry.”
The 10-foot by 15-foot flagship on Prince Street grew out of a search for a solution to building a monolithic kind of space – out of chocolate boxes. “We needed a clear storage idea,” she says. “It’s kind of a one-liner, a rigid program to build with the boxes.”
It’s basically a floor-to-ceiling, custom shelving system that displays 2,500 boxes designed to hold 4, 9, 16, or 24 chocolates. Some are pre-packaged, while others are empty, waiting to be filled by shoppers or owners. By stacking the containers and the boxes, the designers have sought to transform the storage component, turning the space into a display grid of graphics and patterns that change as boxes are removed.
“The question was how to store 2,500 boxes and have room for people to walk,” she says. “It’s a practical solution for a practical problem – we needed to make use of the entire space as a storage device.”
Chocolates and truffles are arranged on top of protruding boxes, like light boxes with labels, all designed by Kaufman and Exit Creative.
True to the De-Spec mission, the project defines the polar opposite of generic.
For more information, go to http://www.de-spec.com/