The much anticipated opening of SUBTYPE’s first New Zealand store was met with queues of sneaker and streetwear aficionados, all keen to see the curated fashion gallery, complete with sneaker walls and awe- inspiring visual elements. Zara Overton spoke with Blair Cooper, creative director of Noise Noise Noise studio, who brought the Newmarket space to life.
ZO Can you tell us a bit about SUBTYPE?
BC SUBTYPE store is a curated fashion gallery specialising in apparel and footwear based on exclusivity, creativity and innovation. It is a destination for coveted releases and cutting-edge brands.
ZO Who is the SUBTYPE customer?
BC The SUBTYPE consumer is highly engaged with street culture. They know what they want and appreciate premium fabrics and limited run apparel and footwear. They shop regularly and are at the forefront of global trends. They are aged between 18-35.
ZO How did you start out in your career and get to where you are today?
BC I studied Interior Architecture with a Major in Retail Design at the University of Technology Sydney – at the same time I was working doing Visual Merchandising for General Pants, over 10 years ago. It gave me the experience in retail to understand how a store is shopped but also how it is effectively used by the teams. I worked for M+C Saatchi in their retail design team to understand the agency side of things, a tiny studio in Sydney doing hospitality design, to understand small studios and the fact that in this capacity you really have to jump into the deep end on a lot of projects. Then I went onto designing over 150 stores in 19 countries with the Cotton On Group to understand the science behind retail across all aspects of the business as well as how the retail landscape differs greatly globally. After 6 years, I decided to start Noise Noise Noise 3.5 years ago. The key thing is to work across all aspects of retail – both in store, for the agencies and for the brands, understanding the different approaches and which ones work for your particular clients.
ZO How would you describe your style when it comes to design?
BC The studio aesthetic would be to layer in our signature juxtaposition of materiality via colour, reflectivity, transparency and form. We love bold spaces that are architecturally confident. We care about the details, and most of the time every fixture in a store is custom designed and produced as a one-off. I get really excited by the process and love seeing a design go from concept through documentation, to fabrication and finishing and then placed in store with the rest of the environment when everything comes to life!
ZO What is your strongest skill you have developed over your career?
BC Relationship building. The funny thing about interior design is a vision can only be executed with the help of so many people across the process. I think for this project there would have been about 30+ different trades and suppliers all working on their piece of the puzzle that contributes to the end result. Every person is important and showing interest and involvement in the work they do makes everyone feel valued but also part of the vision. It is a joint success when we finish and I make sure everyone knows that I couldn’t have done it without them.
ZO What inspired the SUBTYPE Auckland store fitout?
BC For this interior, the connection between the real and the virtual is explored, as the physical space takes on a digitally inspired sheen. The use of striking tonal blue across the interior landscape is a nod to it’s New Zealand location in the ‘City of Sails’ embodying Auckland’s iconic harbour scenography as a conceptual reference. The futuristic tech- glam aesthetic combines physical tactility and details that will make an impact online, encouraging customers to snap and share imagery of the store interior.
ZO What is your favourite feature within this SUBTYPE Auckland store fit out?
BC The digital print used across the interior that was custom designed with a water ripple checkerboard effect. It appears in multiple iterations giving fluid movement and softness. Fitting rooms are clad across all surfaces with the print and their angular interior shifts perspectives, providing the perfect backdrop to customers. A tonal blue hand tufted wool rug sits central to the store, the checkerboard warp creates a hypnotic effect, whilst overhead at the rear of the store curtains drape behind lower height walls.
ZO What was the biggest challenge with opening the Newmarket store?
BC Covid-19! We had a few weeks delay as the job was put on pause once NZ went into lockdown. It was a nerve-wracking time as I thought there was a possibility we would not actually start back on site again…. but we did! We obviously couldn’t travel to NZ from Melbourne so we spent a lot of time with the shop fitters and project managers on FaceTime, sending hand sketches, marking up photos, and generally using our phones as the lens into what was happening onsite.
ZO What are your go-to sneakers?
BC It changes on the daily depending on how I feel [I have over 50 pairs….] but I always have been a fan of Converse hi-tops. I’m wearing the Converse x CDG Play 70’s right this minute!
ZO What is your biggest piece of creativity advice you can share with us?
BC Have faith in your designs. A lot of the time people will question you if you are doing something a little different – don’t let this deter you. Even after working with some of my fabricators for so many years now …they still say to me at the end of a project “Blair, it actually turned out really great…”