Continuing Manolo Blahnik’s success in Asia, the designer is launching three new retail spaces in Japan in partnership with local luxury specialist Bluebell Group and designed by architect Nick Leith-Smith. The first two locations open this August, a 50 m² space in Matsuya Ginza department store, in Tokyo and a second space in Umeda Hankyu department store in Osaka. A further stand alone store is planned for the brand in 2017.
The space is contextualised in deference to Japanese mastery for interpreting traditional cultural forms in exciting new ways. The breadth and quality of material, craftsmanship and architectural influences are unrivalled by any other culture.
The focal element is an impressive installation, typical of timber and bamboo scaffold structures but realized here in crisscrossed folded wooden slats. Interlacing they connect walls and
ceilings, imperceptibly supporting shelves and acting as hangers. It is at first sight both primitive yet considered; functionally dynamic and playful much like the brand itself.
Cleverly fusing the industrial with the ornate, opposing walls are cast concrete reliefs with an undulating curve pattern inspired by the gingko leaf. Dramatic contrast comes in a back wall in a painterly blue, inspired by traditional Japanese indigo plant dye.
This vibrancy is picked out through the careful curation of seating – mid century Finn Juhnl 137 collection- inspired by the iconic Miyajima Watergate – low armchairs and seating with hand sewn upholstery in brightly coloured hues. The shoes cascade out across marble in-laid shelves supported by the wooden sculpture. Marble flooring and pared back brass and glass display cabinets give a contemplative feel – a space to reflect, shop and appreciate the artistry of the shoes.
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