The Mother Lode

One-stop shopping for moms-to-be is just one of the attractions at the Destination Maternity flagship on Madison Avenue in Manhattan.

The three-level, 10,000-sq.-ft. store is the superstore format of Philadelphia-based Mothers Work. It houses the company’s three retail brands—the value-oriented Motherhood Maternity, the fashion-forward Mimi Maternity and the upscale A Pea in the Pod—under one roof. But it also includes a full-service spa (Edamame Maternity Spa), mini-art gallery, kids play area, lounge and a learning studio that offers classes in everything from breast-feeding to prenatal yoga.

The design maximizes a corner, three-level street front space that is configured between other retailers and below office space. A glass storefront on the ground-floor entry showcases a grand foyer, which displays art and serves as a decompression zone.

“The space was a bit of a challenge in that the majority of the retail space is on the second level,” said Thom Morbitzer, design director, Cowan + Associates, Worthington, Ohio. “To get customers up there, we put the staircase toward the front to make it more inviting. We also tried to bring as much natural light into the area as possible.”

A floating cement-and-glass custom staircase provides access from the ground floor to the upper level, home to Mimi Maternity and Motherhood Maternity. The storefront and shop for A Pea in the Pod is set to the back of the foyer, on street level. The spa is on the lower level.

Destination Maternity is designed for comfort and convenience. Each of the three retail shops has its own look, defined by its own finishes and materials. (A Pea in the Pod and the spa are more pronounced in finish and detail to reflect a higher-end brand image.) Environmental graphics in the form of mounted banners, in-store signage and lifestyle images enhance the brand identity of each shop and provide wayfinding information. A variety of flooring surfaces are featured, including stained concrete, porcelain tile, eco-friendly rubber flooring and carpet.

To make things as convenient as possible for shoppers, there are fitting rooms on both the first and second floors (the rooms include sample “belly pillows” to help a shopper size and visualize her changing body). The larger bank of fitting rooms is upstairs, and has an adjacent kids’ play area with a “kiddie corral” for toddlers, and a spacious lounge complete with flat-screen televisions and oversized leather easy chairs where guests can relax.

The overall environment has a color palette of neutral colors with cool accents. The finish on the fixtures is in keeping with the neutral/cool color palette, and utilizes brushed aluminum and shades of grey and beige. Graphics and forms are worked into some of the fixture displays.

General lighting is provided by a combination of metal-halide fixtures and linear fluorescent fixtures. Accent track and pendant lighting is used to highlight displays, including the dressing forms and merchandise fixtures. Recessed incandescent can lighting is used sparingly, and is featured mainly in the spa.

The spa pampers guests with a luxuriously warm, relaxing atmosphere. The fabric treatments and furnishings are accented with rich colors. Decorative wall art, lit sconces and water walls add to the tranquility of the space. Natural wood flooring and a warm-finish palette are used throughout.

While each of the main areas of the superstore has its own feel, the overall environment is tied together by the design of the common areas and the architecture of the space. The design team used the exposed columns to tie the spaces together.

“We left the ceiling exposed for the most part, and also used that as a unifying element throughout the space, Morbitzer explained. “The curved acoustical panels in A Pea in the Pod help set off the space and give it a different look. But even there the column beams are exposed.”

To date, Mothers Work has opened 15 Destination Maternity stores, including just-opened locations in Westport, Conn., and Baton Rouge, La. The company has said it sees the potential to expand the concept to 40 to 50 stores nationwide.

Project Resources

Design and architecture: Cowan + Associates, Worthington, OhioGeneral contractor: Scorpio Construction, West Creek, N.J.Lighting: Nesco, Canton, Mass.Ceiling panels: Plastrglas, Omaha, Neb.Fixtures: Fleetwood Industries, Reading, Pa.; Advance Fixture Mart, Waukegan, Ill.Wall panel systems: Columbus Show Case, Columbus, OhioFlooring: Lees Carpet, Wood River, Ill. (carpet); Storefloors, Canton, Mass. (porcelain tile); Best Tile, Ludlow, Mass. (granite border tile); Eco Surfaces, Cincinnati (rubber floor); Grammapar, Forest, Va. (wood floor)