By Ashley Davis
Last week, Mimi So opened her first store. Located in New York, So designed the space to be a reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the city. “I decided to create this magical treehouse in the middle of the city block,” she told National Jeweler.
New York—For Mimi So, opening her first store in New York City’s downtown SoHo neighborhood is a homecoming two decades in the making.

“I grew up around here,” the designer explained at her store opening fête held last week, on the eve of New York Fashion Week. “I grew up in the Lower East Side not too far from Chinatown. (Opening the store here) was a natural evolution for me. I’ve always loved the area.”

20180911 mimiso insert1Designer Mimi So pictured in her SoHo boutiqueThe native New Yorker’s familiarity with the concrete jungle stoked a fascination for its antithesis--the natural world--expressed in her jewelry via the Wonderland collection, comprised of various flora and fauna.

It also inspired the design of her store, which So wanted to feel like a modern treehouse. “I used to think it was the most luxurious thing to live up in a tree,” she explained.

Rather than enlist an architect, So went to work directly with the artisans and craftspeople she chose to create the 500-square-foot space on trendy Crosby Street. “It was important to me to support fellow artisans who were producing their work locally in reclaimed sustainable materials,” she said. 

20180911 mimiso insert3The new Mimi So boutique is filled with wood and elements of the natural world.She turned to Brooklyn-based wood fabricators Tri-Lox to execute the warm wooden interior, stained with a custom hue that resembles streaks of blonde with dark undertones as an abstract ode to the designer’s hair color.

The jewelry cases were the most labor-intensive aspect of the interior design, due to the technicalities of adjustable temperature lights and sensor locks. The cases were rendered in maple wood with hand-bleaching to reveal the wood’s veins and patterns.

“It was an amazing collaboration of design and fabrication. They had never met a client who was as geeky about the wood process as they are.”

20180911 mimiso insert2Mimi So’s New York City store houses comfortable corners to try on jewels. Updating the treehouse for 2018, precisely 20 years since So launched her line, meant adding a few glamorous décor elements, like a chandelier that echoes the motifs of the Wonderland collection, a Viggo Boesen-designed sheepskin chair and custom-designed black leather and copper stools by BDDW Tyler Hays, one of the shop’s neighbors.

Hays also created a showcase meant to resemble a jeweler’s bench. So explained: “Since we speak of craftsmanship and our house is about quality, it was only appropriate to have it be in the center of the room as the hero piece.”

Now that her jewelry has its own permanent home, So is excited to connect with her customers directly.

“That’s when you get the real feedback,” she said. “I love retail. I love working with the public, the consumers, to really convey our creativity and I think it’s important to stay engaged and connected and the best way to do that is to have a brick-and-mortar space.”

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