This project converts a former diner in a bland strip mall into a contemporary gallery for the Minneapolis-based Blu Dot furniture company. Located on a busy retail thoroughfare, the building’s former life as a diner was written into its walls, ceilings, and floors. The owner sought to transform the space into something more reflective of the furniture company’s design ethos: contemporary, materials-based and finely-crafted.
The building exterior was transformed by enlarging the windows facing out to the street and creating a large glazed entry portal to welcome visitors, framed in steel. In a layered approach, a custom screen made of anodized aluminum piping surrounds the exterior giving the store a unique new retail presence and, together with custom metal entry portal and signage fabrications, allude to the client’s novel use of industrial materials and refined aesthetic.
Inside, enlarged glass openings convert windows into generous street displays, offering views into the store interior where sheer curtains subdivide the space into room-like vignettes to organize the product offerings. White-painted millwork platforms and shelving offer museum-like exhibition display to foreground the artistry and craftsmanship of furniture and accessories. The ceiling is painted black to focus the visitor’s attention on the floor display; newly-introduced skylights bring soft daylight into the large, deep floor plate to present the furniture in a more residential setting. Incoming light from the openings are reflected in the transparent epoxy floor, producing a luxurious floor surface which exposes the patina and history of the space’s former life as a restaurant.