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FEATURES - May 16, 2022

When we conceived ANT/DOTE, one of the main struggles was to find real estate in Atlanta that fit our goals.

Words by Eugene Rabkin, D/RECTOR

One thing we knew clearly is that we did not want to be in a mall but in a standalone space that would allow us to realize our vision to the fullest extent. We will not regale you with stories of how much painstaking research went into looking for the right space. But when we found this red brick gem at 525 Bishop Street in West Midtown, we knew we were onto something special.

The building is a very late example of Art Deco, though you'd be hard pressed to find the architectural touches that make it so (the arrangement of the windows, the framing of the doors). It was built in 1950 and served as a Kodak lab for secret government projects. One can only imagine what kind of surveillance gear was being cooked up in there. Of course for our purposes, the building had to be completely redone.

To realize our vision of bringing a global level store to Atlanta where we offer Fashion with a capital "F," we knew we had to find an architect of appropriate caliber.

That architect was Chris Benfield, who's worked on North American stores for Dior Homme, Rick Owens, and Balenciaga. And indeed, we think we ended up with something truly spectacular. "Antidote’s concept was born from leveraging one of the store’s core principles, Fashion First," says Benfield. "The tenets of this principle speak to creating a sense of place through an architectural expression that is earnest, tactile and memorable. Which is complete in tune with my design sensibilities."

This includes a hand-poured terrazzo floor, hand-applied plaster walls, and all custom-designed fixtures, just to name a few of the many carefully considered details, large and small.

The color palette and material selection is organic, from the heavy black burnt wood entrance door to the jagged surfaces of the hang rails. Following the less-is-more approach, the shop is uncluttered, with the massive marble cash wrap serving as the epicenter of the main sales floor that houses the ready-to-wear offerings for men and women, our fragrance counter, and our dedicated shop-in-shop for our favorite skincare brand, Aesop, for which we specifically installed a wash basin.

The newly cut staircase leads down to our accessories floor where a single column serves as the unifying element. The only piece of furniture there is a black molded leather bench. The textured plaster on structurally in-built shelves that house our footwear and bag offerings provides the same organic feel but aesthetically sets the room apart from the main floor, making it into its own little universe. Off of the downstairs floor is our VIP lounge, where clients can relax in a private, pressure-free environment and take their time choosing what they wish to purchase.

 

We did not do much to the outside of the building in order to respect its history.

But it needed a refresh, and keeping with our "One must be absolutely modern" tenet, we covered the red brick with a special compound of anthracite color, giving it a more uniform, earthy feel. This makes the building really stand out in its West Midtown neighborhood and add to its feeling of a real destination.

The last thing that that makes the store a real oasis and a standout in Atlanta's architectural landscape is, well, landscaping! For this we engaged WrinkleMX, the same landscape architect firm that worked on such iconic projects like the Hauser & Wirth art gallery in Los Angeles. Our building sits at the foot of a hill with a forest of large White Oak trees and a rich understory of native plants. In the back, a hidden courtyard has been carved into the slope as an extension of the interior space to create an art plaza: a space for events of all sorts that we plan to bring to Atlanta.

"The courtyard is designed as a botanical library with its concrete parquet floor and its garden vitrines,"

explains Astrid Sykes, the WrinkleMX principal architect. "One can wonder and explore the plants displayed to discover the rich ecologies of the local Georgia Piedmont Belts''. Four curated collections of plants are "on display" in the conceptual garden vitrines, an Oak/Hickory/Pine forest, a shoreline riparian forest, an urban forest and a botanical wonder.

While we are still working on the courtyard, it will become the oasis that ANT/DOTE is in itself. We look forward to welcoming you.
Fin.