Photo: Nacasa & Partners
Tokyo / Japan / 2003
Flagship Tokyo store for Yamamoto's Pret-a-Porter range
Client: Yohji Yamamoto Inc.
Net Area: 570 m2
Executive Architect: Studio Mebius (Tokyo)
Photo: Nacasa & Partners
Ron Arad Architects were approached by Yohji Yamamoto Inc. early in 2003, to design the new flagship store for their Prêt-a-Porter range – “Y’s”, to be situated within the new prestigious Roppongi Hills development in the heart of Tokyo. The store occupies a 570m2 area, more or less centrally divided by 3 large structural columns.
From early on in the design phase, RAA decided to mask these columns in such a way as to create the illusion of lightness and movement within the space. Strong reference was drawn from the mechanical automobile parking turntables prevalent in Tokyo, and it was decided that four such turntables would be embedded within the floor (three ‘real’ columns and one ‘fake’ one), to allow the main design elements within the space to pirouette gently, transforming the space constantly. The revolving store entrance door is adorned with four layers of coloured glass pieces forming a freehand Y's logo, which when the door is spun, shimmer and change colour.
In this way, the store’s ceiling and floor seem to be held apart by four ever-changing sculptural elements. The store reconfigures itself during the course of an average shopping visit. At night, the speed of rotation quickens, making the transformation of the space more palpable. Each of these rotating ‘sculptures’ is in fact made of 34 aluminum tubular loops, stacked to occupy the entire distance between floor and ceiling around steel column casings. Each of these loops can be rotated a full 360o, thus accommodating an infinite number of spatial arrangements. The loops are used as hanging rails for Y’s clothes, and can be transformed into wide shelves using special customized ‘plug-in’ units.
Additional product display is facilitated through a series of angular glass-fibre-reinforced-plastic (GRP) shelves which can ‘dock’ into each other to form free-standing shelf stacks, or into slats in the wall behind. The till unit is formed of a topography of displaced identical angular plates, mimicking both the shelves, and the rotating loops. The store’s changing rooms form the backdrop to the loop stacks, and are sited behind gill-like curved walls which negate the need for sheltering doors or screens. The street-facing façade is composed of an array of curved glass panels, forming a refractory glass ‘corduroy’, distorting the contents of the store from the outside.