The Halo Effect
Benjamin Budde -- Interior Design, 7/1/2009 12:00:00 AM
Tokyo loves its high-end malls. From Omotesando Hills to Tokyo Midtown, real-estate developers are making moves to cater to what some call Japan's national pastime, shopping. A newcomer to the action is the 17-story mixed-use Ao building in Tokyo's fashion-centric Aoyama district. Only a few steps inside the building's main entrance, the Patrick Cox shop is a real attention-grabber despite its postage-stamp size. The handbag and accessories boutique was designed by Sinato, a young firm with a portfolio heavily populated by shop-in-shop projects for fashion labels, and it was from a familiarity with micro-retail that principal Chikara Ohno felt comfortable making a small space feel smaller.
In a setup familiar to anyone who has visited a mall, the front of the shop is completely open to people meandering past. The genesis of the 850-square-foot interior lay in the research Ohno did on shops and department stores where bags and other small leather goods sell well. "The important point seemed to be whether the light was reflected onto the product or not," he says. "Customers can get a better look if the light source is close by, not shining down from the ceiling."
Accordingly, he positioned each of 10 cylindrical display pedestals directly below a corresponding pendant fixture. These fixtures provide most of the lighting in the space, supplemented by recessed spotlights. The result is a group of bright, round pools dominating an overall dimness.
The pendant fixtures' stacked drum shades, rings of steel painted white gradating to gray, descend to a uniform level, 2 ½ feet above the tops of the pedestals and slightly more than 5 feet above the floor, effectively cutting the 13-foot height of the volume in half. "Most shops would use that height to create openness and grandeur, but that seemed distasteful to me," he says.
Instead, pathways seem to meander between columns, beneath a canopy formed by the drum shades almost touching near the top. "While the light fixtures may look overcomplicated, they're really about giving form to the void above the display," Ohno says. The canopy effect is accentuated by bands of gray paint, graduated to shroud the upper walls in relative darkness and further focus shoppers' attention.
A Japanese interior is often discussed not in terms of such elements as walls and fixtures, per se, but rather in terms of how these elements shape the ma, or negative space. In Sinato's design for Patrick Cox, negative spaces create a shop interior that truly places the product on a pedestal. It's a treatment of negative space that yields nothing but positive results.
Photography by Nacasa & Partners.
THROUGHOUT KOIZUMI LIGHTING TECHNOLOGY CORP.: PENDANT FIXTURE LIGHT SOURCES. ADVAN CO.: FLOORING. NIPPON PAINT: PAINT. FDS CORPORATION: LIGHTING CONSULTANT. ZYCC CORPORATION: GENERAL CONTRACTOR.