By  on February 8, 2012

When the executives at Melissa, the Brazilian footwear brand known for its colorful PVC jelly shoes, decided to open its second store — the first outside of Brazil — in New York City, it was not with ambitious sales projections in mind. In fact, they prefer not to think of it as a store at all. “The point is not to sell a lot of Melissas. It’s a galeria,” said Paulo Pedo Filho, Melissa’s brand director, using the Portuguese word to describe the space at 102 Greene St., which opens Wednesday, and is not to be confused with a museum. “There are no portraits. It is not a gallery.” What he meant is that the space was conceived as an interactive experience, where the brand identity is radiated through art and design as much as the shoes, which are displayed and available for purchase.

Creating a unique aesthetic was key. Creative director Edson Matsuo worked with architects Domingos Pacascali and Moema Wertheimer to create a bi-level “urban cavern,” ultramodern in its all-white plaster walls and resin-painted floors. Throughout, brightly colored Melissa shoes are perched on movable pedestals meant to evoke stalagmites. The recent collaborations by Jason Wu (dainty styles with his owl logo attached) and Gareth Pugh (black and white chunky gladiators) are up front, while the more classic styles (ballet flats, sandals, wedges) and kids’ shoes run toward the back. In the center of the store is a spiral staircase that leads to a lower level, which will serve as the focal point of a rotation of art installations beginning with a vivid mural and illustrated projection by the Brazilian artist Eli Sudbrack, who recently designed Gaga’s Workshop for Barneys New York.

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