The setting for Clown is an amorphous shopping mall in the suburbs. As purveyors of European children’s clothing, the owners wanted a shop image that conveyed the continental quality and character of their merchandise within a restricted budget. To communicate this end economically, we chose to develop a language of formal articulation constructed from a vocabulary of mundane materials. Drywall and stock 1’by 4’s are the basic lexicon. The transformation of these elements out of the commonplace is achieved through spatial order and an archetypal system of detail that evokes memory and association.
The facade, without overtly imitating any stylistic period imparts an historical presence through its tripartite organization. Trim work defined base, column and capital which support an architrave. Triglyphs and metopes, transposed from their hereditary position within the Doric order articulate the frieze. Trim is further expressed at its junctures by raised corner blocks upon which brass nail heads are placed. The rusticated base serves figuratively as a narrative of the past and literally as protection for the lower facade. French doors, brass hardware and muntinized shop windows are harken back to traditional devices and provide detail and scale. The color system of raspberry, vanilla and mint codes the architectural detailing as it alludes to children’s visions of confectionery.
The plan is classically organized into an axial progression of rooms from front to rear. Laid on the diagonal, a ceramic tile path, reminiscent of European foyers, reinforces the axis which ends in a niche. As poche, centrally disposed changing rooms subdivide the space into two equal chambers. Clothing is displayed in trimmed niches along the perimeter of the main rooms. These niches form a rhythmic sequence of recesses which articulate the space and produce a gradation in scale. The intimacy associated with continental children’s shops is thus attained through a balance of proportion and detail.