Eyeing the Oculus Showroom: A Blend of Elements


             Working on the design of the Oculus Botwin Eye Group Showroom, located on Water Street across from the Coyote Cafe, was a perfect fit for me. I enjoy blending elements and I feel I have a natural hand for presenting them in a local way. Here, we combined wood, steel and glass to create a high-end showroom that a regional design, perfect for Santa Fe.

For this project, we let the materials speak as we invented our look. I don’t like looking at tear sheets, and I don’t like looking at the result of other designers’ work. I like to let the materials dictate the room.

The space we worked in is a shotgun space that is deep, not wide. We had two floors, so bumping out the ceiling gave us an art wall two stories tall. That was our feature wall, so we really needed something to anchor the space, to be dramatic and inviting and to set the tone. Everything else was rather quiet. The walls are in a neutral Venetian plaster. The floors are supporting and interesting but quiet, and the cabinetry very utilitarian, but this wall was the art piece. I designed the metalwork, which was produced by Santa Fe fabricator, Diego Velasquez.

The showroom is a day space so it has to invoke interest and inspire action. I love designing retail spaces. For a residence, you want to nurture and relax people but in a day space you want to fire them up. You want their senses sort of sizzling.
The high note of the space is the inventory, the eyeglasses, which are the bubbles in the champagne. When you enter the showroom, you see the eyeglasses. They’re sparkly and they carry light among all of this masculine material. So I was trying to create a real balance in the space.

Before we began this project, we looked at other optical showrooms around the country and saw a lot of clinical, contemporary spaces that were cold. I wanted to give the space a resort feeling, where you feel like you’re on vacation. I wanted to capture that feeling of being transported. At first this concept was hard for the owners to swallow. But the more we drew, the more they were on board and could really see it. And I think that they’re in heaven. They love being in their space. They love watching peoples’ reaction when they come in because their jaws drop. My hat’s off to Freddy and Mark Botwin for following the fruition of this project and seeing it through to completion. Because there were times when they thought we should just do what we’d seen in New York, Las Vegas and L.A. Instead, our design pays tribute to the mystery of the elements and to the beauty of the region.

See more photos here…Oculus Botwin Eye Group Showroom