A playground for modern sartorialists where high-end fashion meets art and design

Public interiors



Tons is located in East Liberty, Pittsburgh and the building itself is a two-story mansion with moderate facade embellishments that used to be an atelier. Inside, is a spacious and light-filled interior that now hosts a multifunctional venue designed to meet the needs of a modern-day sartorialist equally interested in fashion, art, and culture.

NWDS, an international team of architects, when designing the concept store’s interior, staked on light play and complex features created with mundane and raw materials: glass, hollow bricks, white paint, hand-painted textile, plastic, and cellophane.

The method of putting the interior together was turning the future concept-store space into a playground for designers and artists working on the project. There was a lot of spontaneity and many design decisions taken on site: some surfaces were uncovered and left in an unfinished state, and some were splashed with white paint. The ceiling of the entry space is embellished with tin cans: an element that is crossbred between an interior piece and a mockup art installation.

An interior comprising modest materials is a backdrop for high-end Italian furniture pieces, a collection carefully curated by the NWDS team. All the pieces represent a connection between design, architecture, art, and fashion. Paradoxical Hi Tech armchair by Piero Lissoni, both archetypal and futuristic with its austere silhouette and steel mesh upholstery. Mate chair by (a+b) dominoni, quaquaro blurs the line between a furniture piece and an interior sculpture. Glass items by Glas Italia pay tribute to the high postmodernism and creative genius of Anish Kapoor.

There is also the Wiggle Stool, a cult article designed by Frank Gehry for Vitra, composed of pressed cardboard, and a Load-it shelves system by Wolfgang Tonk (Porro) made of paper-thin but highly resistant steel shits. And, rhyming with the subversive undercurrents of contemporary fashion, expensive garments populate the rails purchased at Home Depot.

The lines between fashion, design, art, and architecture are not the only ones getting blurred. Inside Tons, the client space and the workspace are blended. Buyers and managers have their work desks right next to the sale rails on the first floor and store visitors are welcome to take a peek at the fashion photo shoot happening right there at Tons. There are fashion and design books you can read and the whole store feels like a community space as much as it feels like high-end fashion retail.