Project Description: Set in the New York neighborhood of Soho, this 6,000 square foot space was designed as a flagship retail store for the hypothetical tennis lifestyle brand SMASH. This space is an interactive and immersive experience where tennis experts and newbies can all relish in.
Designer: Ashley Dai
Concept: SMASH is a tennis lifestyle brand that celebrates all the emotions that run wild in tennis. It focuses on how people can piece themselves back together after their breaking points to prove that their comeback is greater than any setback. Through the use of different textures seen on various courts throughout the world, interactive stations to demo equipment, and an aesthetic that plays up the vast world of possibilities that come from the sport, SMASH showcases the journey of weaving through the highs and lows of sport and life.
This weaving can be seen in the floor plans as various volumes create a pathway for consumers to travel through. The push and pull of these ins and outs seek to create tension and a sort of challenge that visitors must navigate through to find goods geared towards stylish athletes who want to be able to wear their tennis apparel proudly in all walks of life.
Since SMASH seeks to transform tennis from being seen as a “country club” sport to a highly desirable and intense sport for everyone, materials were inspired by public tennis courts seen at everyday parks. Therefore, the main materials used are chain link fencing, concrete flooring, brick walls, racket strings spun around columns, and a dramatic Felipe Pantone mural spanning both floors.
The play of weaving volumes not only moves horizontally, but also vertically. The most dramatic vertical statement occurs in the entry where customers are met with flying broken rackets that seem to zoom out of ball carts. These broken rackets are another homage to the idea that we can all move past our breaking points and keep rising.
The racket demo area was an important area to be included as a way of providing more of an immersive experience in this flagship store. Here customers can test out rackets, shoes, strings, or any other SMASH gear whilst providing entertainment for passerby – just like at a public park.
A closer look at the stringing and footwear elevations focuses on the usage of everyday tennis equipment as well as the dynamic yet precise nature of the sport. The stringing booth is surrounded by tubes used to pick up tennis balls and downstairs the ball cart is crashing through the wall before rackets rise upwards out of it. The graphic signage injects a dose of high contrast to keep things dynamic in display areas that are as rigid as lines on a court.
Ashley Dai is in her third and final year of her MFA program at the New York School of Interior Design. She has previously worked at Brianne Bishop Design in Chicago and is now interning for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s in-house design team. Prior to starting the MFA program, she played varsity tennis for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill while pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism. After her graduation in 2019, Ashley plans on returning home to Los Angeles where she will continue pursuing her passion of creating meaningful, transcendent environments that positively impact people from all walks of life.