The recently opened Masters Craft ceramic ware boutique in the basement shopping area of Palace Hotel Tokyo is pure proof of what we already know: nobody masters the art of minimalism as well as the Japanese.
Everything in this store, including how each individual item is displayed on the shelves and counters, manifests the skill of leaving all else out except what is needed for balance; of not being afraid of empty space, and of allowing every piece to tell its complete visual and tactile story.
The 45 square-meter (484 sq.ft.) store was designed by Akemi Katsuno & Takashi Yagi, founders of Kyoto-based Love the Life.
For inspiration, they visited the Masters Craft headquarters in Mizunami city, located in the Tono region of Gifu in central Japan, where ceramics production dates back 1300 years. The trees, mountains and silence of the neighboring area inspired the 14 tree-trunk- poles suspended from the ceiling. The visually prominent materials of the shop interior -- Castor Aralia tree and ceramic tiles – also speak the language of the region.
Palace Hotel Tokyo is located in the business centre of the city, and it faces the Imperial Palace and a lush park. It replaces the Hotel Teito and Palace Hotel that occupied the same site from 1947 and 1961, respectively. The 290-room Palace Hotel Tokyo opened in May this year and includes the second Evian Spa outside France. - Tuija Seipell
Mats Sjöqvist together with brothers Mårten and Olle Eriksson-Mårtens attracted a solid following of well-dressed men to their first menswear boutique, Herrekipering (haberdasher in Swedish), on Kocksgatan 17 in Stockholm’s Södermalm district.
Earlier this year, they expanded the business by opening their second and much bigger store, Haberdash, on Upplandsgatan 50, in the Vasastan area of Stockholm. In the process, they renamed the first shop Haberdash as well.
We love the functional, minimalist interior of the new boutique, completed by Stockholm’s Form Us With Love (FUWL).
The materials and details of the store design speak the same language as the brands represented in the store, the language of timeless style, long-term value, functionality, quality and artisanship.
The underlying goal of all of the displays is to allow the customer to see and examine each item completely. So FUWL created a stylized, minimalist craftsman’s studio, with the items displayed on magnified pegboards, simple workbench-like counters and basic square shelving.
Materials, such as Silestone Quartz, Kährs ash and Tärnsjö Tannery leather are used for displays and surfaces. The “bare-bulb” pendant lighting is FUWL’s own Form for Design House Stockholm.
The esteemed brands sold at Haberdash include the French Armor Lux sailor sweaters made famous by Pablo Picasso, Brooks bicycle saddles and accessories from the UK, and Grundén raingear from Sweden.
FUWL is a multi-discipline design house established in 2005 by fellow students of product design at Småland’s Kalmar University, John Löfgren, Jonas Pettersson and Petrus Palmén. - Tuija Seipell
We don’t often come across projects to feature in Valencia, although the ancient city is the third-largest in Spain. So, we were particularly excited to discover the new cool kids wear boutique, Piccino, that opened at Trafalgar 52 this month.
Piccino (Italian for “kids”) is the first retail shop of the family-owned company that offers reasonably priced Italian children’s fashions including Brums and Bimbus.
Valencia’s Masquespacio, also known as +Quespacio, lead by Ana Milena Hernández Palacios, was in charge of both interior design and graphics for this beautiful 38 square-meter (409 square feet) gift-box-of-a-store.
This store reminds us a bit of the Candy Room in Melbourne by the Red Design Group.
But in Piccino, we especially love the bold and disciplined use of just two basic minimalist principles: white surfaces and black line drawings. This framework creates a sense of being inside a drawing, and it blurs the border between real and imagined, giving a fun 3D effect to all flat surfaces.
We are forced to really look, to see, to check out what’s what. Yet, the simplicity of the framework also lets the clothing play the main role. It pops, but in a fun, inclusive way.
The back-story and inspiration come from the owners’ kids and involve children sewing clothes for their new friends.
With the added drawings of furnishings, kids and clothes, and fun call-outs and other on-brand touches, the space is kid- and parent-friendly yet also cool enough to appeal to pre-teens.
The classic Lou Lou Ghost chair by Philippe Starck for Kartell seems to be designed for this environment. - Tuija Seipell
Complicated is easy, minimalist is difficult. Even more difficult is minimalist design that stands out. That is why we love this little contact lens shop in Tel Aviv, Israel. It is a store concept for Adashot by EyeCare designed by Lee-Ran Shlomi Gidron of Tel Aviv-based Miss Lee Design.
It is apparently the first and only store in Israel that sells nothing but contact lenses. And that posed the main challenge of this project: How to display something as tiny and indistinguishable as contact lenses?
To start, Miss Lee created a word cloud to describe contact lenses: Cleanliness, Transparency, Clarity, Reflection, Gliding, Lightness and Tension between black &white. From that, the two main design elements emerged: The embossed-digits-wall inspired by sight tests, and the six light fixtures with concave mirrors. Minimalist, beautiful and stunning. - Tuija Seipell
UK-based shoe and accessory retailer Kurt Geiger has been rolling out its new retail store concept in the UK and around the world with the help of its long-time collaborators at Found Associates of London.
Kurt Geiger’s flagship store and headquarters at 198 Regent Street in London’s West End is a glamorous shoe emporium within a five-storey historically protected building.
Red carpet covers the ramp leading to the men’s department, and it also links visually to the red glass walls at the rear of the store. The walls are lined with dark grey glass shelves forming a beautifully formal “library of shoes.”
Mirrors and glass, and the colors red, white and black create the entire visual structure of the store, allowing the shoes to remain the main focus. The Kurt Geiger Regent Street store occupies 2,800 square feet (260 square meters) of space.
The other main store in London, the 4,000 square-foot (371 square meters) Covent Garden store, is a maze of mirrors circling around a massive staircase.
The mirrors, distorting the space and creating infinite reflections, are all the props that are needed to create a luxurious, fantastical environment.
This Covent Garden store received RetailWeek’s 2011 Fashion Retail Interior of the Year award.- Bill Tikos
Matching optional, mixing mandatory. Straight-laced or upscale are definitely not the main characteristics of the target audience of Spicy Color’s peppy and girly clothing store in Seoul, Korea.
The candy-colored “fashion playground” shop expresses the brand’s sweet and happy mantra of “joy.play.love.” with a pop-art retro vibe.
Students, most likely female, will find themselves completely at home in this slightly messy, dorm-room environment with its mix-and-match, low-brow fixtures, gooey colors and “wastebasket” lighting.
Everything is light-weight and mobile or moveable, making it easy to create new, unexpected displays every week. The various sections of the store have different textures and materials, tiles, brick, wood, metal, adding another dimension to the multi-function space.
The website repeats the same feel: a dated yellow typewriter, a yellow scooter, big dice, a shoe-shaped pink armchair, a retro guitar — it all reminds us of cast-offs, second-hand finds and an adventurous creative spirit.
It reflects student days of low budget and high spirits. Ice cream and yogurt, balloons, cupcakes, jellybeans – the vibe invites us to expect something yummy and bouncy, slightly indulgent and perhaps even a bit naughty.
The clothing is equally fun and colourful, and the entire brand approach is spelled out as “fashion is play.” The design of the store is by local design firm m4, under the direction of Kwang-Hyun Han and Yun Young-Sub. - Tuija Seipell.
The cool story of David Webb, jewelry designer since 1948 to elite stars, socialites and others who love bold statement pieces, continues beautifully today.
With the 2010 change in ownership – from the Silberstein family to Sima Ghadamian, Mark Emanuel and Robert Sadian – the New York tradition has managed to hold the attention of the luxury jewelry buyer from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Elizabeth Taylor to Gwen Stefani and Jennifer Lopez.
The most recent buzz around David Webb is not about the iconic pieces’ animal and other organic forms or the incredibly rich settings of precious stones, but about the design of the Madison Avenue Flagship boutique, above which the artisans still work in the in-house atelier.
Designed by architect Peter Pennoyer with interior design by Katie Ridder, the boutique seems more like a mansion or series of salons, and less like a store or showroom. With prices starting at $4,000, the David Webb pieces require surroundings that are both luxurious and intimate. Pennoyer and Ridder have achieved an edgy ease that lets the jewelry remain the center of attention. - Tuija Seipell
Toronto’s latest TA-ZE store, at 120 Adelaide Street West, is only 800 square feet in size, but it is airy and uncluttered. TA-ZE is a chain of retail stores focusing on premium olive oils and related product.
Ta-ze means fresh in Turkish, and the company is rooted in the long traditions of olive-oil production. Its product comes from six provinces in the Aegean region of Turkey, from 33 co-operatives that include more than 28,000 olive producers.
The purity and clarity of the oil is reflected in the minimalist store concept designed by Toronto-based Burdifilek, led by managing partner Paul Filek, and creative partner Diego Burdi. They are also responsible for retail design for W Hotels, Holt Renfrew department stores, Club Monaco and Joe Fresh, among others. - Bill Tikos
OUKAN 71 is an intriguing addition to the sophisticated shopping area around Friedrichstrasse in Berlin. OUKAN 71 combines a fashion and art showroom/shop with a tea room and restaurant. Located on Kronenstrasse 71 (Kronen Strasse means Crown Street in German, and Oukan is Japanese for crown), the boutique has a fascinating background.
When the earthquake and tsunami cancelled the Tokyo Fashion Week in March last year, a group of Japanese designers were looking for a place to showcase their work. Berlin answered, and a charity project, Tokyo Gakudan (Tokyo Orchestra), was presented at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin in July 2011, with 40 Japanese designers showing their collections.
Natalie Viaux and Huy Thong Tran Mai were responsible of the Tokyo Gakudan Runway Show at Mercedes-Benz Studio. They are also the masterminds behind OUKAN 71, inspired by the fashion show.
On two open-concept floors, OUKAN 71 offers a constantly changing selection of fashion, accessories and design, much of it currently Scandinavian, but all with a Japanese feel. The Tea Bar Restaurant serves raw, vegan, vegetarian and fish breakfast and lunch dishes by chef-patissier Eriko Ohsawa, formerly of Tim Raue’s MA and UMA restaurants. - Tuija Seipell
In a refreshing departure from the now so routine dark-mahogany “men’s club” feel of men’s stores, New York-based architect and interior designer Rafael de Cárdenas of Architecture At Large approached Cape Town’s Unknown Union with a much lighter touch.
The two-level boutique, located in a historic building, exudes light and color. On the first level, white walls serve as the background to the pared-down stacked-box shelving painted in softly muted yet vibrant colors. This simplified setting, gives the owners, Sean Shuter and Daniel Jackson, an ideal showcase for the brands that they represent, including ANYthing, Pendleton, Surface to Air, and Penfield USA.
The second level is an ever-changing, creative space, where local and international creators and artist showcase their work. The opening event for the space featured the work of Rafael de Cárdenas/Architecture at Large, Gazelle, Surface to Air, Milkbeard, Cornrow Rider and THECAST. - Tuija Seipell.