Louis Vuitton has opened a futurist new storefront in Seoul this week, marking a spectacular and eye-catching collaboration with celebrated architects Frank Gehry and Peter Marino who have both chosen to pay homage to Korean heritage and culture with the new building.
With a curved-glass creation, perched atop the prestigious Cheongdam-dong in the Gangnam district. This unique building marks Frank Gehry’s first creation in South Korea and displays a clear connection with the shape of the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris. As well as the different retail universes designed by Peter Marino, the building will inaugurate Espace Louis Vuitton Seoul across its glass-topped upper floor, welcoming an exclusive and intimate exhibition of sculptures by Giacometti for its grand opening.
Based on the existing site of the original Louis Vuitton store, this new Maison is a celebration of the strong connection between Louis Vuitton and Korean culture. In imagining his design, Frank Gehry chose to reference not only the shape of the existing Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, but was also inspired by elements of historical Korean architecture such as the Hwaseong Fortress, dating back to the 18th century, as well as the swooping movements and white costumes of the Dongnae Hakchum (Crane Dance).
What struck me when I first visited Seoul nearly 25 years ago, was the relationship between the architecture and the natural landscape. I still remember clearly the powerful impressions I had stepping up from the garden of Jongmyo Shrine.
– Frank Gehry
The result is a poetic structure created primarily using Gehry’s trademark curved glass, each panel specially moulded and attached to a bespoke metal lattice. The glass covers the entire front of the structure, beginning with a high zig-zagging vestibule and window, leading up to a series of enclosed terraces and culminating in waves of louvered glass panels, to give an impression of flight, or of the roof of the building itself evaporating into the clouds above. The walls and base of the building are constructed from white stone to enhance this sense of weightlessness.
Louis Vuitton Maison Seoul’s windows present a colourful cluster of paper trees specially conceived with Frank Gehry. Inspired by the architect’s scale models of trees which are artfully scrunched from a single piece of paper, these are realised life-size and dyed with vivid pigment, every colour of the spectrum, which will coincide with the curated artworks throughout the building.
Inside, the five floors are dedicated to a complete offering of the different universes and collections. Architect Peter Marino has used the vast volumes to create contrasting spaces, from an entrance hall reaching twelve metres high, to more intimate lounges, using different textures of stone to give the impression of niches hewn from within.
“The interior spaces were designed with a Miesian rigor to more strongly emphasize the billowing energetic sculptural quality of Gehry’s exterior. The interior stone flows in from the exterior. The dynamism of the rectangular volumes cleanly contrast with the baroque glass shields of the building”, says Peter Marino.
The inner architecture gives a sense of openness, with an airy “floating” staircase connecting all floors. The basement floor presents Louis Vuitton’s Men’s universe of ready-to-wear, leather goods, shoes, travel items and formal wear in a calm, bright space.
Meanwhile, the glass vestibule on the first floor opens directly onto a space devoted to Women’s collections, including ready-to-wear, leather goods, accessories, fragrances, Fine Jewellery collections including B Blossom and watches.
Smaller, private salons around the main atrium create an intimate shopping experience, a feeling carried through the second floor and onto the third floor which houses a private space and an enclosed terrace that can be used for intimate dinners and events as well as exclusive appointments.
The central height of the store allows for a playful and permanent incorporation of Objets Nomades into the Maison’s interior design. Launched in 2012 and now available on a permanent basis for the very first time in the Korea, the Louis Vuitton
Objets Nomades collection of designer travel and home related objects keeps alive Louis Vuitton’s long tradition of beautifully crafted travel-inspired objects.
Thirteen of the world’s most renowned designers, including Atelier Oi, Marcel Wanders and André Fu amongst others, have imagined fifty-five stunning Objets, which have then been made by Louis Vuitton. Sharing a sense of intuitiveness, desire, and pleasure, the Objets Nomades continue Louis Vuitton’s tradition of offering inspiring and surprising designs anchored in evolving visions of travel.
Showcased in dramatic installations, close to a dozen of Raw Edges’ Concertina Shades illuminate women’s leather goods, while Spiral Lamps by Atelier Oï and majestic Cocoons by the Campana Brothers are suspended from above.
Clients are provided with an entirely unique private shopping experience surrounded by works of art, historical Louis Vuitton archival objects and unparalleled artisanal savoir-faire.
In a silent discussion between past and present, original Louis Vuitton trunks sit alongside modern-day creations, while “art is everywhere!” adds Peter Marino who curated the many artworks and furniture presented in the store. In Louis Vuitton Maison Seoul, the artworks, by Mark Hagan, Marcello Lo Guidice, Brendan Smith, Luigi Mainolfi, Martin Kline, Harmony Hammonds, Bernard Aubertin, and Anselm Reyle, create bright fields of colour strategically placed along the staircase and throughout the Maison.
In addition to the hanging artworks, in-store Louis Vuitton artisans help make each client’s item their own by imagining personalized and unique hand-painted illustrations for their leather goods and hard-sided pieces.
Location Louis Vuitton Maison Seoul and Espace Louis Vuitton Seoul 454 Apgujeong-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul 06015 Korea Tel: 02-3432-1854
Store Hours Mon~Sat 11am – 8pm & Sun 12pm – 8pm
Espace Opening Hours Mon~Sat 11am – 7pm & Sun 12pm – 7pm Closed on: New Year’s Day, Lunar New Year’s Day, Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) Day
Photos | Yong Joon Choi Courtesy of Louis Vuitton
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