Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan
This is an excerpt of an article from the September 2008 edition of Architectural Record.
In 1993, when the hip-hop-inspired hoodies, sneakers, and T-shirts of A Bathing Ape (aka BAPE) first began appearing on the back streets of Tokyo’s edgy Urahara neighborhood, their designer never dreamed his clothes would be sold next door to The Gap, Uniqlo, and other mass-market retailers. But more than a decade and 40-plus BAPE outlets later, including stores in Hong Kong and New York City, the DJ-turned-fashionista known as “Nigo” decided it was time to take on Shibuya. Yet the move into this trendy but mainstream Tokyo shopping and entertainment district posed a conflict: While the central location offered increased exposure, it also threatened the brand’s exclusive aura. Fortunately, Nigo’s longtime interior design collaborator, Masamichi Katayama, of the Tokyo firm Wonderwall, had the solution.
“Because BAPE is already an established brand with a loyal following, we thought we could do something extreme,” says Katayama. The Shibuya store, opened in late 2007, departs from the stark white and spaceshiplike BAPE boutiques that came before. Although the shop meets the street with a poker-faced wall devoid of identification aside from the brand’s simian mascot mouthing the words “Go Ape,” a dazzling light show visible through the glass doors pulls shoppers inside.
Like a giant Tetris game, a grid of flashing LED fixtures lines the walls and floor of the 26-foot-wide entrance. The glazed squares switch colors in time to a pulsating beat, while limited-edition sneakers roll by on a conveyor belt beneath a swath of clear glass in the middle of the foyer floor. A mirrored stainless-steel ceiling tops off the whole shebang, producing enough sensory overload to rival the game center that once occupied the store’s 4,200-square-foot space at the base of architect Atsushi Kitagawara’s Rise Building (1986). Though not a treatise on energy conservation or sustainability, Katayama’s scheme clearly distinguishes the BAPE shop from the conventional, casual-wear stores nearby.
Beyond the threshold, the shopping floor unfolds a few steps below. Organized by a grid of internal “streets,” two glass-enclosed boxes dominate its core. These 13-by-17-foot rooms-within-a-room house the bulk of the menswear collection. Separated by walls of hanging racks and built-in shelves, back “alleys” contain women’s wear and service counters. Mirrored doors and partitions conceal the dressing rooms.
The shiny and reflective surfaces carry over into the boutique’s main body, where marble covers the floor, and silver and pink aluminum wall panels define the men’s and women’s areas, respectively. Other finishes incorporate graphics from the brand’s distinctive clothing, such as the signature camouflage pattern affixed to the glass boxes. Some motifs, like the plaid that covers ceiling panels and wall recesses, were created specifically for the project by BAPE’s graphic designers. The tartan pattern also adorns the boutique’s shopping bags.Want the full story? Read the entire article in our September 2008 issue.
Masamichi Katayama, founder
Masamichi Katayama/Wonderwall Inc.
Masaki Yasuhara/Plus y
D.BRAIN Co., Ltd.
Kozo Takayama phone:81-3-6423-7830
Signage: neon, matte white melamin baking finish on steel(dialog baloon
wall1: aluminum alumite, wall paper( plaid pattern),clear glass, mirror
wall2: clear glass with custom made camouflage pattern with 3M film
ceiling: panting, wall paper(plaid pattern),aluminum alumite
Furniture(all custom designed by Wonderwall)
Rectangle bench- white enamel cover, stainless steel hairline finish
Circle bench (within the glass box)- white enamel cover, stainless steel
Materials(manufacturer= where they buy row materials and not the factory)
aluminum alumite(exterior, wall): CORONA KOGYO CO., LTD.
Hinges: NEW STAR registered by NIPPON DOOR CHECK MFG. CO., LTD
Pulls: custom-made by D.Brain
Paints: KANSAI PAINT CO,.LTD.
Wallcoverings: original “Camo” pattern film: Sumitomo 3M Limited
wallpaper: Sumitomo 3M Limited
Floor and wall tile (white marble stone): ADVAN CO.,LTD.
Furnitures/Belt conveyer :