Nak Armstrong Jewelry Opens Luxurious Flagship Store on SoCo
The stunning design draws from Italian mid-century Brutalist architecture and Milan’s muted jewel tones
By Darcie Duttweiler
Photos by Brittany Dawn Short
Nestled next to a greenery wall neighboring Aba, the shop is practically a jewelry box in itself. When you step inside, you’re greeted by a 10-foot-tall, freestanding chartreuse velvet pod that’s reminiscent of a luxurious gift just waiting to be unwrapped. (Interestingly enough, it houses the showroom’s restroom.) Once past the box, you’ll find gorgeous hand-cut mosaic marble tiles at your feet, evoking a Milanese vibe. A peppering of terracotta tiles reduces the stuffiness and lends a slightly more casual feel.
Farther in, in the center of the store, deep green and walnut display cases proudly show off the colorful pieces from both the eponymous line and Armstrong’s newest Nakard collection. Farther in the back of the space, a comfortable kidney-shaped couch, embroidered chair, a Fort Lonesome framed upholstered art piece, along with green succulents make you feel like you’re in a downtown condo of a close friend who has exquisite taste, which was by design, according to Armstrong.
“We wanted to have a classic design but also a residential feel. It’s intimate, but you’re a part of a community,” he says. “It’s a mixture of luxe and casual. Mixture of masculine and feminine. It should be comfortable for men and women to shop in here.”
Much of the store’s design inspiration was drawn from a visit Nak and his spouse Walter made to Milan, which instilled a love for the city’s mid-century Brutalist architecture and use of muted jewel tones. That aesthetic is echoed throughout the store, from the floor to the velvet trimmings, all of which make the showroom the perfect vessel in which to peruse the gorgeous jewels.
“Our jewelry has a lot of layers and details, so we decided that we need to show the layering of the store, but in a more subtle, monochromatic way because we don’t want to compete with the jewelry. We want to highlight the stones and all the work, but we’re in a small space so it can easily become overwhelming,” Armstrong says.
Quietly opened last winter, the flagship space was three years in the making with Austin’s Ann Tucker and her team at Studio A Group. Although CFDA-winning fine jewelry designer Armstrong has been selling out collections at luxury stores like Bergdorf Goodman, Moda Operandi and Barneys for 10 years (and for longer with his previous award-winning line Anthony Nak), having a space all his own was important to him so that he could dictate how his jewelry was displayed.
“This was an opportunity to say who we are as a brand, from top to bottom, in every detail,” Armstrong explains. “This is how we want to show our brand. The store is the center of the universe where everything radiates.”
While the Nak Armstrong collection is gold-based with precious gemstones, the new diffusion line Nakard aims to make Armstrong’s pieces more accessible to a younger crowd who might just now be starting their own jewelry collections. “It serves as an entry to the brand,” he says. Although the two lines are separate with different metals and stones, the intricate designs can clearly be seen in every piece. Using his signature stone plissé technique in several pieces (in which the metal is pleated and almost appears in waves), Armstrong shows off his background in both architecture and textile designs beautifully.
“Our jewelry is made to be worn like a piece of clothing. It should feel of your body and not something apart from it,” Armstrong describes.
Along with the unique silhouettes and the unexpected use of color, Armstrong’s designs are distinctively his. And, unlike most jewelry designers, the majority of the stones used in the two collections are hand-cut to each specific piece, instead of the other way around, which he likens to an interior designer creating their own wallpaper.
“It gives us something entirely our own,” he says before laughing. “I never do things the easy way!”