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Off-White Miami Design District Flagship by AMO and Virgil Abloh

Virgil Abloh and AMO design flexible flagship Off-White store in Miami that "can host a runway show"

Fashion designer Virgil Abloh and AMO director Samir Bantal have designed the Off-White flagship store in Miami Design District to be a fulfilment centre and a multipurpose events space.

Abloh, who owns the brand Off-White, and Bantal, director of architecture firm OMA's research arm AMO, designed the store to rethink how physical shops should operate amid the growing popularity of digital shopping.

"We're niche entities, AMO, Off-White, Samir and myself, so we're able to sort of wear our heart on our sleeve or our brain on our sleeve," Abloh told Dezeen. "The first slide that Samir sent for the development was like, is shopping relevant?"

"If we're able to kind of fulfil our needs by ordering a lot of things online, what's the role of a physical store?," Bantal added.

The idea is that the store is flexible, according to Abloh, who cited the annual Art Basel and Design Miami events that take place in Miami as examples of when it could be used to host a variety of activities, like art and music events, and talks.

"There might be 1,000 people, you know, in key moments of that year where the shop can host a runway show, it can host a talk, it can host a cafe," Abloh said.

"It'll be a cafe that extends out into the street, it'll be what the environment needs it to be rather than the betting on, hey, this square footage needs to be used for retail 24/7," he added.

"Who knows, by the time it opens I might turn it into like an Uber delivery of Off-White – that's the freedom and the fun."

In response, the store is stripped back to only provide storage space for apparel on sale so it could easily be used for a variety of activities and cultural events.

"We played with the idea of translating the store into a fulfilment center," Bantal explained. "Fulfillment of not only the monetary transaction you do by buying a product, but also fulfilment in terms of like the engagement you have with a brand, or the aura of a brand."

"This, of course, being in Miami Design District led to the idea of creating a space that is adjustable and transformable over time," Bantal continued. "We should be able to kind of compress the retail parts to almost like a storage element in the store, and open the store to a kind of variety of cultural events."

Located at 127 NE 41 Street, the two-storey store is fronted with an opaque polycarbonate wall on the ground floor that can be pushed back, squeezing the storage of the apparel to the rear and opening the front to the street.

"You almost push everything that is retail and compress it in the space behind and then of course, ultimately it ends up in storage," said Bantal. "While the space in front of that facade is completely open and free and can be used for any function."

Above the moveable wall is the word Shop with a red cross in front – a tongue-in-cheek nod to the concept behind the project.

"This is the first Off White store to have a facade you know, that street level so the expression, the signage, you know, as the words Shop is a shop, but then has like, an X through the middle, and it's very, like monolithic," said Abloh. "The face of the concept is expressed on the facade."

Inside, the team aimed to continue to the theme of the fulfilment centre through a stripped-back industrial aesthetic – including floors rendered in lightly stained concrete, walls lined in corrugated metal and mesh ceiling panels.

Off-White apparel will be displayed on either stainless steel shelving or black marquina and white Carrara marble rails. All the furniture is placed on wheels or is collapsible so it can be moved about to accommodate events.

The pared-back style acts as a backdrop to a series of artworks that will be installed in the store and the bold electric blue stair that leads to the first floor. On this level, the brand intends to host more intimate events like dinner parties.

Abloh, who is also the artistic director of Louis Vuitton's menswear collection, founded his Off-White brand as a ready-to-wear streetwear label in 2012. He previously teamed up with Bantal to design Figures of Speech, a retrospective exhibition of his career at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA).

The store joins a number of fashion flagships in Miami Design District, which Craig Robins transformed from a formerly neglected area into the hub for design boutiques, luxury fashion brands and art galleries.

Others include Joseph, which London firm Sybarite design with a spiral black staircase, Christian Louboutin, which is covered in tree bark, Dior, which has a boutique sheathed in curved white concrete panels, and Tom Ford, which is housed in a pleated concrete shop designed by Aranda\Lasch.

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