The Louis Vuitton brand opened a spectacular store in February, with everything you can imagine of its brand, art, architecture and an innovative restaurant.
If you have thought about visiting Osaka to go up to the impressive viewpoint of the Umeda Sky Building, you are one of me. Although, if on the contrary, you have glimpsed the possibility of visiting the Sugalabo V restaurant, also in the same city, you are closer to our favorite teacher Marcos Mosteiro. As always, the middle point exists, and in this case it converges on the brand new Flagship Store that Louis Vuitton has recently opened in Japan’s third largest city.
The new flagship was inaugurated in early February 2020, on one of the busiest shopping streets in the Cho-ku district, called Shinsaibashi-suji, where the Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Chanel and Dior stores are located, among others. However, there are a few reasons that make this new boutique different and remarkable. The first is that its facade is shaped like a sailboat, in honor of the old merchant ships of Japan, since Osaka is one of the most important commercial ports in the Japanese country.
A facade shaped like a Japanese sailboat
Before Louis Vuitton began construction on its new store, the space was occupied by open-air parking lots and a large warehouse. In 2018 the construction of the new building of the luxury brand began by the architecture studio Jun Aoki & Associates, which had previously worked for LVMH. The interior design was the work of the neat Peter Marino, a New York-based studio. The property reaches 37 meters in height, spread over seven floors above ground and one below ground.
This is the largest Louis Vuitton store in Japan and its facade is all the rage on the networks, especially on Instagram. And it is that its exterior in the form of a corner has two different heights and a small terrace at the bottom. Inside, the protagonists are the large floor-to-ceiling windows that allow a great use of light. In addition, on the outside, a steel structure forms waves like the inflated sails of a sailboat, a detail that is even more beautiful with the curved glass with serigraphy that simulates the translucent fabrics of traditional cargo ships, Higaki- Kaisen.
Eight floors full of details and a luxurious design
The building thus has a double-layer curtain wall system, an outer layer composed of curved and printed glass, and an inner layer, with insulating and heat-reinforced glass. At night, the play of shadows provided by the interior lights, cut out by the printed silkscreen, enhance the facade, making it even more incredible and realistic. And it is that the proud architect configured the ground floor so that its metallic motifs reinforced the ship’s symbolism of the whole.
The tributes continue inside the flagship, with wooden floors simulating the deck of a ship, wooden pillars and metal ceilings that, according to the architect, «recall the spirit of a great yacht embarking on an exciting adventure». The adventure of shopping, I would add. The first four floors are dedicated to clothing and accessories, as well as the brand’s best-known objects, all arranged to observe the Objets Nomades collection, a contemporary art made by guest artists for the house.
A fancy cafe and restaurant inside the store
Art is part of the luxury brand, and for this reason almost 20 contemporary works selected or commissioned by the architect Peter Marino are exhibited in the store, offering the visitor the possibility of enjoying the works of Vik Muniz, Polly Apfelbaum, Kimiko Fujimura, Nicola De Maria and Ida Tursic & Wilfried Mille. These works condition the distinctly Japanese space, merging with the prevailing air in an almost natural way. It is a whole commitment to the mixture of Japanese style and the brand’s own.
The fifth floor has a place in the history of the luxury store, as it is the home of Le Café V, the first Louis Vuitton café. For this establishment they have counted on chef Yosuke Suga. But the surprises do not end here, since through a secret door you can access an exclusive and unique restaurant, Sugalabo V. Through high glass doors in the cafeteria, you enter a terrace made up of furniture in shades aquamarine blue and lime green, and with porcelain flooring that imitates a wooden floor. All this protected, in addition, by the external «sails» that fly over the parapet.
Art, a fundamental piece of the Louis Vuitton building
The restaurant has a cozy, intimate design, with tables set around a tall counter in front of an open kitchen, where the curious can watch the chefs do their job. Leather seats, pavement made up of three-dimensional diamond-shaped pieces, and golden brass pipes that meander along the walls, make the place look spectacular, but simple.
But let’s go back to the store. The windows have as a background a work of art executed with colored ribbons by Kenta Cobayashi, a design that has been made to give the façade rotundity. To go up to the floors, apart from the elevators, there is a very particular wooden staircase, supported at the ends and of little thickness, which gives way to light, allowing indoor plants to be placed under them.
The traditional construction of Japan is nourished by wood, so its use as a means of visual communication is a success, like the neat origami washi paper, the country’s traditional paper. Whenever a design is going to be executed, you have to get directly involved with the users, if it is in a country or a certain region, knowing the traditions and customs will help designers to better connect with the public. The Vuitton flagship is a success inside and out, as demonstrated by the long lines at its opening.