Japanese studio Jun Aoki & Associates has completed the transformation of Louis Vuitton’s flagship store in Tokyo‘s Ginza shopping district, now featuring an undulating facade and interiors by architect Peter Marino.
From the same corner siting, occupied by Louis Vuitton since 1981, the building’s highly modern appearance interprets the reflections of water as a material phenomenon. Once a peninsula extending in Tokyo bay, this evocation of water is expressed throughout as smooth, undulating surfaces – from the glass façade that transmits shifting colour to the feature staircase and fixtures. Spanning four floors, the retail offering is complemented by a permanent pop-in space for seasonal animations of new arrivals and an upper level dedicated to private salons. The store experience culminates in Le Café V, where celebrated chef Yosuke Suga collaborates for the second time with the House, additionally developing flavours for Le Chocolat V, the first-ever line of Louis Vuitton chocolates that will make their world debut here at the end of April.
Comprised of two layers of glass, Jun Aoki’s façade is at once monolithic and imbued with fluidity – his representation of a “pillar of water.” Practically seamless, the outer panes curve and ripple; their three-dimensional surface enhanced by dichroic glass that produces endless colour variations. At street level, the building reflects the dynamism of Ginza; higher up, neighbouring towers become wavy apparitions, while a skyscape sweeps across the glass, marking the passage of each day.
In the evenings, the bright reflections that dance around the base fade upward, giving the illusion of immateriality. Meanwhile, double-height transparent opening curves around the street corner as the principal perspective into the store with space to stage the signature Louis Vuitton window displays.
Once inside, Peter Marino’s design emphasizes the building’s organic aesthetic with a central staircase that unfurls like a ribbon of sculpted oak bordered by glass. A second staircase, located towards the rear of the store, is framed by a four-story feature wall that reinterprets Kimiko Fujimura’s painting, Wave Blue Line (1977) in artistic applications of plaster. Continuing the water metaphor, circulation becomes both architectural and spatial. As clients move through the store, they will notice curving counters and ceiling panels that contribute to the sense of flow. Rounded furniture in light nuances of wood and glass by Morten Stenbaek or Isamu Noguchi add to this effect. Even the elevator conjures the sensation of water and sky, with the rippled metal surface multiplied by mirrors playing out as though an endless horizon.
Of the seven floors, four are dedicated to retail. The main level comprises women’s leather goods, watches & jewellery, and the permanent pop-in space, with additional women’s leather goods, as well as accessories, travel and fragrance located on the second floor. The women’s universe – including ready-to-wear and shoes – extends across the third floor; while directly above on the fourth floor is the complete men’s universe. VIC and VIP salons can be found on sixth floor; and on the uppermost level, are Le Café V and Le Chocolat V, the debut of Louis Vuitton as chocolatier.
In addition to showcasing a full range of the latest products, the store will be a destination for exclusive pieces, starting with a limited re-edition of Rei Kawakubo’s Celebrating Monogram collaboration bag from 2014 in leather. The legendary designer’s first association with Louis Vuitton dates further back to 2008 when she created six customized bags in Monogram canvas, having admired the House’s approach to craftsmanship and savoir-faire ever since the opening of its first Japan location in 1978. Among the initial selection of exclusive pieces will be the men’s LV Ollie sneaker embellished with embroidery and pearls; a fully-embroidered Monogram sequined dress; and a slim Tambour watch exquisitely accented with blue and purple sequins. Handbags that can be found only at Ginza Namiki include the Capucines BB in a timeless accord of grey canvas and navy blue leather and the Boîte Pharmacie handheld Monogram trunk designed in collaboration with kabuki actor, Ebizo Ichikawa XI.
From Pierre Paulin and Stefan Leo furniture in acidic hues to works from Ed Moses, Vik Muniz and Zhang He, colour infuses the store with vibrancy. Arrangements of seating, design objects, carpets and art shift through different expressive tonalities: an impressionist scheme of pink, orange on the women’s floor, saturated shades of red, turquoise and lime on the men’s floor; and a mix of muted and pop accents throughout the private salons which have been conceived with a modular layout for larger or more intimate settings. With additional abstract art from the likes of Kimiko Fujimura, Ida Tursic & Wilfried Mille and Peter Dayton, colour acts as an uplifting and inspiring theme that takes many forms.