Dave Pinter/Courtesy PSFK.com
42nd Street-Port Authority Bus Terminal
Subway Station Mezzanine
New York, New York
Designer: Vamos Architects
Grast, a new retail venture specializing in the kind of streetware items coveted for their rarity—artist-designed graphic T-shirts and collectible figurines—takes its subculture status literally. The flagship store, designed by Brooklyn-based Vamos Architects, is subterranean, located on the mezzanine of the 42nd Street and 8th Avenue subway station. “I saw a void in the untapped market of the NYC subway and wanted to pay tribute to the history of the subway—including the underground art scene and old-school graffiti artists,” said store founder Merwin Andrade.
At 400 square feet, the store is roughly the size and proportion of a subway car. Totally exposed to the dreary subway mezzanine, Grast is a bright punch. Only a stair leading down to the platform interrupts the glass storefront (the stair also gives an unexpected worms-eye view into the store). “It is a shopable shop window that also had to work as a store on the inside,” explained Vamos Architects’ Evan Bennett of the long and narrow space. “Everything had to have maximum impact at a low cost.”
Eye-catching kelly green Tretford carpet (a durable, eco-friendly goat hair product) lines the walls, concealing the storage units and dampening sound. Finished in glossy white Formica, the perimeter counters and cash wrap display Japanese toys and multi-colored headphones. Crisply folded T-shirts rest on shelves that hang from the concrete ceiling. The architects mocked up the tension cable system in their office to convince Andrade; the bent metal shelves were constructed of sheet metal and coated with shiny autobody paint.
Going underground seems to have paid off. According to Bennett, MTA officials are happy with the results, and Andrade has hopes for more outposts, which should please straphangers and shoppers alike.
The store, accessible with a subway fare, is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.