Who says the clothes have to steal the whole show in fashion boutiques?
Not interior designer Mark Norkaitis, whose designs are all ready changing the face of State Street in downtown Geneva. His work in retail businesses ranges from dressing the place up for holidays/seasonal to total transformations—as he’s done at his most recent projects: The Denim Loft at 206 W. State St., and Merra-Lee at the corner of State and Third streets.
Norkaitas’ design approach begins with selecting a color palette and an overall look and feel. Then he becomes a man on a mission, and the hunt begins, because Norkaitis doesn’t believe in rules when it comes to displaying fashion apparel and accessories. Instead, he scours flea markets, basements, and attics for items he can repurpose in unexpected ways.
A bed in the middle of the store? Why not? You think end tables belong on the floor? Don’t be silly. At , Norkaitis hung them on the wall to display handbags on the lower shelf and hang tops and jackets from industrial pipes mounted underneath. At , a tall, laddered CD rack became an elegant display for necklaces and bracelets.
When he walked into The Denim Loft’s new location (formerly The Rug Merchant), the space was a blank slate.
“Like a bowling alley with wood floors and four walls, and that was it,” Norkaitis says. Not anymore. The shop has a distinctly outdoor feel to it, complete with live birds in a cage hung on the recently installed gazebo.
“I’ve had this gazebo since I was 12. It was set up in my grandma’s back yard for years, then in storage,” he said.
He pays attention to a space’s history and incorporates that into his design. Merra-Lee sits on the site once occupied by the Tea Room of the Geneva Hotel, so Norkaitis salvaged an art deco desk once used in the hotel’s rooms. It now holds a collection of funky socks.
Norkaitis explains that each of his retail projects are truly one-of-a-kind. “I won’t put a bed in any other store," he said. "And none of my other clients in the area will have the same color-palette as Merra-Lee.”
Norkaitis has been actively working in interior design since he was 13 years old.
“I spent a lot of time at my aunt’s in the summer, and I’d help her out with her design business. We visited flea markets together, and I’d help her at the stores she was working on.”
Design seemed to come naturally to him, and when he picked up enough residential clients at his interior design business, Room 363, he quit his “day job” and never looked back. Now he’s expanding into the retail market with great success.
For more information on Room 363 and Norkaitis’ design work, you can e-mail him at Mark60140@gmail.com or visit www.room363.net. Be sure to stop by Denim Loft and Merra-Lee to see his work in person.