CLAY ORIGINALS SHOP IN THE RIVERWALK

Several years ago I designed a shop for a friend of mine’s aunt. 

She leased a pushcart in the Riverwalk Shopping Mall in New Orleans, and sold hand painted ceramic decorative items that were representations of local icons, including famous buildings and landmarks found throughout the city, and including typical house types such as the shotgun house or the Creole cottage.  Some salvaged wood louvered shutters were affixed to the pushcart, and the items for sale were hung on the shutters with hooks that hooked onto the louver blades of the shutters.  

When business was doing well, they decided to lease a space in the mall, adjacent to where they parked the pushcart.  This was right after the December 1996 Bright Field accident, when a container ship on the Mississippi River lost power and plowed into the mall, demolishing a large section of the building.  After the damaged portion of the mall was rebuilt, a number of tenant spaces became available for lease.  re:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MV_Bright_Field  

The space was small, about 20’ x 20’, and was open at the top (no suspended ceilings were allowed by the mall); had an existing brick paver floor that was contiguous with the shopping mall floor outside the lease space, and could not be removed or covered; and had an existing wood canopy that was part of the shopping mall design that had to remain.  The canopy was mostly decorative, but supported a canvas curtain that was pulled down and drawn closed when the shop was closed; grommets in the canvas allowed the canvas to be secured to the structural columns that demarcated each side of the open space.  Because nearly every part of the shop space had to remain as is, the only opportunity for design was the side walls that separated the tenants spaces and the rear wall.  The side walls didn’t need to extend up full height to the structure above.

The design for the three walls features a simulated shotgun house façade for each wall.  The facades all have simulated openings with louvered shutters that allow the continued display of merchandise hanging from the louver blades of the shutters.  The rear façade extends a couple of feet from the rear wall to conceal a couple of storage areas for the shop.  Each façade was painted a different pastel color.

The shop remained until Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.  The shop and the mall was not damaged by the storm, but the mall traffic was so severely diminished after the storm, and the cost of the rent was so high, that the shop could no longer afford to remain in business at that location.  The shop was relocated to a building in the French Quarter where it continues selling ceramic decorative items.  The shop in the Riverwalk Mall was eventually dismantled, and a new tenant is operating out of the space.  Fortunately, I thought to take some pictures of the shop while it still existed.      

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