Sugarhouse carves out a domed cave temple for Cult Gaia’s Miami flagship

Retail Rocks

In Greek mythology, Gaia is the goddess of earth, considered a supreme immortal, a symbol of both the beauty of nature and divine femininity. A flagship in a new city for a clothing brand named after the deity, Cult Gaia, must live up to the otherworldly moniker. New York–based architecture and interior design firm Sugarhouse outfitted the shop’s Miami boutique with allusions to temple architecture and Persian ancestry to create a fitting interior that is natural yet built, fantastical yet real.

The store’s exterior is made up of 1,800 tiles (Kris Tamburello)

The tile mural depicts the Tree of Life and is designed by Michael Chandler (Kris Tamburello)

The ethereal concept for the brand begins at street level, as the A-frame store, inspired by local casitas, is wrapped in 1,800 tiles. They form a mural of the Tree of Life, created by artist Michael Chandler and inspired by Cult Gaia’s founder Larian Hekmat’s Persian heritage and Henri Rousseau’s painting The Dream. The hand-painted mural depicts a blossoming tree surrounded by vegetation, birds, and flower crown–wearing nymphs, making the otherwordly identity of the brand apparent even before entrance.

The interior opens up under a a seven-foot-wide frameless oculus (Kris Tamburello)

Beyond the arched doorways, the 1,502-square-foot space is divided into two domed halves, each designated by a seven-foot-wide frameless oculus which references the Pantheon, the Ancient Roman temple for all gods. Paired with the creamy Bianco Avorio Limestone and Bianco Santa Caterina Travertine, the interior feels like a beatific cavernous dwelling. Under the first oculus rises a 12-foot concrete sculpture of a nude model, designed by Hekmat’s mom. Further down, the second dome shines natural light upon a 14-foot Banyan tree that is planted within a serpentine sofa from Brandi Howe, another way to incorporate Gaia’s love for nature within the space.

Under the first dome lies a concrete sculpture of a nude woman in front of biomorphic wall mirrors by New Vernacular Studio (Kris Tamburello)

Under the second dome, a 14-foot Banyan Tree is incorporated into a couch from Brandi Howe (Kris Tamburello)

A central dressing room divides the two oculi. The structures are part of the majestic beauty of the space, made from one hundred individually chiseled sandstone blocks. The grid-like niches, whose illumination from within creates a visible glow from the outside, references the design of rock-cut cave temples. They double as shelving too, as the blocks create platforms for the brand to display accessories.

The dressing rooms are created by one hundred individually chiseled sandstone blocks (Kris Tamburello)

The blocks are illuminated to create a additional light from outside the niches (Kris Tamburello)

Earth tones and textures next to sculptural statements turns Cult Gaia’s flagship into a veritable temple. Sugarhouse translates the narrative of the brand’s unique namesake into an immersive and functional interior. From the many artisanal touches to the bar hidden behind a door at the rear of the space, surprise and wonder permeate the design.