Apgujeong, an elegant neighbourhood in the South Korean capital, has many of these: luxury clothing shops, accessory stores and shoe boutiques. What it doesn’t have, though, is places for customers to rest in between shopping stops. Can a retailer use it to its advantage when opening a new store in the district?
That’s exactly what bag manufacturer Freitag did, by creating a back yard in the new Gangnam-based location. The leisure spot can be accessed by everyone, from customers to employees to passers-by.
Designed by Torafu Architects, the total space allots 50 sq-m to the outdoor space and 66 sq-m to the indoor space. The original venue was totally gutted, and only load-bearing columns and walls were left as found. To create a tunnel effect – a reference to the topography of Switzerland, Freitag’s motherland – they decided to take down the wall to the garden. ‘The back yard serves as a platform for in-store activations, open-air parties and other get-togethers,’ explained Torafu founder Koichi Suzuno. In order to easily access the leisure space, the architects built concrete steps that can also be used as seats. And if the number of guests increases, flexible steel ones are ready to be unfolded to make more room.
But again, this might be part of the brand’s DNA: as the Freitag team explained, the brand likes the idea of access over ownership, so it’s not uncommon for them to hang out with those who come by their outdoor space during lunch or a coffee break, or even for after-work beers.
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