Inspiration

Rivian Wants to Redesign EV Shopping Into an Inviting Space

“Disruptive” is thrown reflexively and regularly when discussing electric vehicles’ impact upon automotive manufacturing, fuel efficiency, mobility technologies, and ultimately how we drive. But alongside these developing changes, the public’s expectations related to the car shopping experience is also evolving, one veering away from the haggle and hassle of dealership-oriented car buying of yesteryear. The introduction of EV truck and SUV maker Rivian’s Spaces in New York City’s Meatpacking District is the first of several brick-and-mortar retail showrooms meant to connect with new EV buyers who want to casually get to know the brand, vehicles, and electric vehicle technologies all without the dreaded hard sell.

Interior of Rivian Spaces High Line, with wood shelves displaying Rivian branded accessories with three people browsing.

Interior of Rivian Spaces High Line, New York City with parked Rivian R1T and R1S parked inside.

Interior of Rivian Spaces High Line, New York City with parked Rivian R1T and SUV parked inside.

Interior of Rivian Spaces High Line, New York City with parked Rivian R1T truck parked inside with person seated on truck bed door swinging legs.

“Rivian Spaces are purposefully designed to be casual and inviting, where anyone who is curious is welcome to come in to learn more about us and our products,” said Denise Cherry, Senior Director of Facilities Design and Retail Development at Rivian. “We’ve peeled away the formality that can be associated with automotive retail and focused on creating a relaxed, family-friendly environment that invites guests to stay awhile and discover at their own pace.” That’s all a nice way of saying Rivian’s Spaces are imagined to be more like other retail experiences and less of the unwelcome persuasive spiel attached to today’s auto dealerships.

Render of Rivian NYC Space retail exterior.

A render for comparison. Located under the High Line in New York City, the product displays inside the New York City Spaces are made from diverted ocean-bound plastics from Rivian’s factory in Normal, Illinois while greenery throughout takes cues from the High Line which is just above the retail space.

Cherry emphasizes the difference between these Spaces and a traditional dealership is their “casual, warm atmosphere”, an environment expressed through their choices in materials, eclectic furnishings and interactive educational displays. “Through Spaces, we want to inspire people to imagine where they can go and what they can do in a Rivian.”

Additionally, reflective of Rivian’s environmental efforts in manufacturing their vehicles, so too will Spaces be designed with consideration of their footprint and impact. “For example, for our 10th Avenue Space in New York City, we intentionally minimized the structural buildout in favor of modular components that can be moved from site to site,” explains Cherry, “Future Spaces locations like Laguna Beach, CA and Groveland, CA, showcase adaptive reuse, breathing new life and purpose into existing structures.”

A converted movie theater in downtown Laguna Beach converted into the South Coast Rivian Spaces showroom with blue Rivian truck parked out front and sunset skies with clouds overhead.

Render of interior space for Rivian Spaces planned for Laguna Beach within former theater building.

Rivian is bringing in architectural experts to ensure historically-significant features of the historic South Coast theater were retained while updating the interior to contemporary energy, code, and accessibility standards.

Rivian Spaces will eventually roll out across the country in other markets, joining the company’s existing network of over two dozen service centers across the U.S. and Canada. These other new Spaces include a showroom housed within a converted movie theater in downtown Laguna Beach, California (above), and also an indoor-outdoor 10,000-square-foot site in Austin, Texas complete with a green space, rooftop patio with panoramic views of the city. Rivian emphasizes the architecture and interior design of each location will reflect their locale, including distinct furnishings within.

Rivian's Austin Space exterior painted black with colorful snake motif painted across it.

Rivian’s 10,000 sq. ft. Austin Space will offer direct access to the Ladybird Lake biking and running trail in the city’s South Congress district and a rooftop patio.

Render of future Space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn within brick building. Shown with open garage and Rivian truck parked inside.

Space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

A render of cabin-like Rivian Spaces, a location of a former historic gas station, with Rivian trucks parked out front.

Rivian Space in Groveland, California – a gateway town to Yosemite National Park – is housed within a former historic gas station converted into a modern cabin design aligned with the brand’s modernist adventure lifestyle.

In numerous ways Rivian is steering the EV buyer closer to something akin to customers and the Apple Store, wooing potential customers into uniquely designed retail destinations showcasing product to try without the hovering pressure to buy, emphasizing product-focused experiences and education rather than immediate sales. While nothing is guaranteed, we’re apt to predict the future of buying your next car will become nearly as easy as buying an iPhone one day – albeit a bit more expensive.

The first Rivian Space opens today, June 16th, at 60 10th Avenue in New York City’s Meatpacking District, with additional locations TBD.

 

Gregory Han is the Managing Editor of Design Milk. A Los Angeles native with a profound love and curiosity for design, hiking, tide pools, and road trips, a selection of his adventures and musings can be found at gregoryhan.com.

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