American brand AETHER was founded on the premise of exploring the space where form meets function.

The label makes technical clothing with a modern aesthetic, defined by clean lines, high-quality materials and serious functionality.

So, when AETHER commissioned Envelope A+D to design their San Francisco concept store AETHERsf, they asked the architects to convey that same idea of technical performance and style.

AETHER wanted a striking physical presence with the unconventionality of a pop up store.


Shipping containers were perfect for the project – just like AETHER’s design-conscious technical outerwear, the highly customised modular units are built to be durable rather than disposable, and bold instead of drab.

With the rising popularity of pop up stores and mobile showrooms in recent years, portable storage containers are becoming a go-to building material for retail designers.

Mosswood Engineering Principal Nate Williams explains, “Containers are extremely strong structures in their unmodified state and can even receive a number of modifications without compromising their structural integrity.”

Mosswood oversaw the installation of AETHERsf and Chris French Metal provided all of the project’s metal fabrication.

The structure comprises three portable storage containers, each measuring 8′ x 9.6′ x 40′.


The space features a custom glass-encased cantilevered lounge, reclaimed oak floors, and a belt-driven conveyor system.

“This project required removal of large portions of the container walls, floors, and roofs, [and] the middle container was proposed to be offset from the upper and lower containers,” Williams continues.

Jutting out from the asphalt, the stacked and staggered containers cut a striking silhouette.


The interior space is a narrow two-storey void, created by hollowing out the lower two containers.

The second level lounge protrudes over the sidewalk, capturing the attention of pedestrians.

Spanning all three floors of the pop up store, a custom vertical dry-cleaning conveyor belt system is both front of house display and back of house storage, making AETHER’s full inventory of performance outdoor wear available at the push of a button.