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Retail
Published: 29 May 2015

Collaborative Converse: Innovative HQ, Boston

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Converse Headquarters in Boston, USA

Conceived as the architectural embodiment of its core values, American footwear brand Converse has opened a pioneering, 214,000 sq ft, hybridised headquarters in its hometown of Boston. The waterfront HQ also includes its newest flagship and the second Converse Rubber Tracks recording studio, set to open later this summer.

Designed by New York-based architect Jennifer Carpenter and dubbed 'Lovejoy Wharf', the 10-storey former industrial building is based around an open design concept, including a large atrium and central staircase connecting each floor, conceived to foster collaboration across departments. There are few offices; instead, a host of a mini living rooms and an employee coffee shop encourage more free-flowing meet-ups.

An impressive Chuck Taylor sneaker chandelier installation hangs at the building's entrance, while outdoor decking and seating for employees amplifies the leisure-like ambience. It also houses a 5,000 sq ft gym designed in partnership with its owner, US sports giant Nike.

Located just outside the main building is the 3,500 sq ft flagship store, a space anchored in customisation as exemplified by Converse Blank Canvas – a unique personalisation experience. With guidance from an in-house designer known as "The Maestro", consumers can create their own one-of-a-kind Chuck Taylors (the brand's signature shoe). Visitors can co-design, customise and embellish sneakers by choosing details such as laces at the Workshop, or screen-print onto the footwear from a revolving selection of more than 150 graphics, or even their own original artwork, at the InkBar.

Converse has also curated 22 works of art from various artists for display throughout the building, which will be auctioned for charity in 2016. According to the brand, the programme will be revisited on an annual basis.

Converse's chief executive and president, Jim Calhoun, has described the space as a venue that aims to be conducive to a "more open, collaborative environment to [enable employees to] think and act a little differently", and also a place to "bring us closer to the city's creative community".

For more on customisation in the retail environment, see Experimentation & Co-Creation in the Future of the Store Industry Trend, Timberland Taps Customisation Trend, Levi's Commuter Workspace and Oakley's Custom Tech Flagship. For more on personalisation before product, see Reactive Retailing. For more on the increasing value of hybrid retail concepts, see The Evolution of the Flagship, Music Meets Retail and Hybrid Retailing. For more on Converse's strategic thinking, see Athleisure Engagement Strategies, Converse Store Taps into Locality and Specialise to Survive. For more on in-house innovation, see Directional HQs.

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