Washington, DC

I. Gorman Jewelers

Service Type

Project Type

3,500 sf


2008 AIA Virginia Society Award of Excellence, Interiors

2008 AIA Potomac Valley Chapter Award of Merit, Interiors

2008 Instor Magazine Second Place, Small Store Category

2008 NAIOP MD/DC Award of Excellence Best First Floor Use

2008 Mid-Atlantic Construction Best of 2008 Awards Award of Merit, Interior Fit-Out

Having successfully outgrown their original store location, the Gormans decided to relocate to a new space. They hired an Architecture firm to create a design that would display twice as much inventory and complement modern jewelry. They also requested the incorporation of recurring design elements: Selective Drama, Warmth, Elegance, Hip/Cool, Inviting, and Timeless. In addition “All design details need to be original and cannot resemble anything previously seen.”

The design process began with examining consistent concepts and connections displayed throughout the Gormans’ jewelry collection. The designers used recurring elements such as asymmetrical compositions, tension, sensitivity to transitions and visual connections, combined with consistent forms and shapes to create a fluent architectural vocabulary.

As pedestrians rush down a fast paced street, a dramatic contrast of a crisp white backlit resin panel illuminating “I. Gorman Jewelers” can easily be spotted with a contrasting rich wenge wood form wrapping the pre-cast structure of the existing building. At a closer glance towards the large storefront window, three wood exterior display cases appear to be floating between the storefront glass panes. These cases are persuasively smaller to entice potential clients in for a closer look.

The design team visually defined the store into five areas: Entry, General Jewelry, Bridal, Men’s Jewelry, and Intake. The Entry area includes the vestibule and bar area for guests to ease into the store gradually. General Jewelry showcases everyday-use jewelry and blends smoothly with the overall ambiance, where customers venture through arrangements of custom designed display cases. Bridal is intimate with sit-down cases for one-on-one consultations, sheer cream drapes cascading across the walls, and small champagne-like bubble lights suspended along the recessed cove ceiling. Men’s Jewelry is defined by smooth confident forms with dark wood features that easily transition to the next defined area. Serving as the drop-off area where clients bring their repairs or purchase merchandise, Intake is located at the rear of the store and stands out with custom millwork constructed with dark wenge wood and white resin.

Customers are first welcomed with custom designed dramatic back-lit onyx wall, white resin beverage bar, a curved dark wood and white resin structure that supports three suspended circular display cases, and a brightly hip and abstract custom carpet filled with hot pink, a variety of reds, and orange linking circles. Two bold confident forms resting on one another create the beverage bar, accompanied by multiple floating bubble lights suspended sporadically at different heights. The luminous appearance of the onyx wall slowly transitions visually throughout the duration of a day. In the morning, the crisp white store’s natural characteristics of faintly grey and red veining are visible. Around lunchtime, pockets of warm light start to appear, forming organic patterns intertwining with the more visible grey and red veining. At dusk, the entire wall glows, attracting attention from both inside and outside the store.

I. Gorman Jewelers is an elegant and inviting space with hip and memorable details that stand as a confident unified backdrop for exquisite jewelry for years to come.

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