Project team:

Architecture and design: Curiosity Inc. – Gwenael Nicolas and team;

12. Apr 2017

A stage play about light and fashion – in several acts.

Text: Jo-Eike Vormittag
Photos: Satoshi Shigeta

The luxury wear and accessories designed by a fashion company such as Dolce & Gabbana portrayed in an expressionless store concept would not be likely to meet the expectations of the fashion designers. In their eyes the garments are the stars of the show and require an appropriate stage on which to perform their role. Such a setting was to be designed for the Dolce & Gabbana boutique in Tokyo last year. Now, when the curtain is raised in the new boutique in the Japanese metropolis, the exquisite fashionwear will literally be in the limelight.

From the point of view of location Aoyama, one of the wealthiest neighbourhoods of Tokyo, is the perfect place for staging the Dolce & Gabbana play. Situated at an intersection, even the façade of the unique new boutique creates the impression of a weighty curtain made of elegant marble, broken up by a series of slashes of cool white light, which give a subtle foretaste of the designed articles and the fashion spectacle awaiting the onlooker inside the store. With light in the leading role. Supporting roles are played by materials such as gold and marble, sophisticated projection techniques, shadow design or purposefully included zones of darkness. The screenplay for the piece in this case takes the form of a cleverly developed boutique concept born of architecture and design.

The concept revolves primarily, and for all acts, around a new interpretation of stage lighting effects to illuminate the fashion clothing, shoes and accessories. This is achieved using 400 directional spotlights and a number of projectors, which are mounted on the ceiling on the two floors in the store, and can be addressed and controlled individually. The space where the fashion items are displayed becomes a spotlit platform for all the highquality fashion products on sale. Given the angle of incidence of the bright light emitted by the ceiling-mounted luminaires, the garments on show cast demonstrative, dramatic shadows on the walls and floor, and lend the dark, somehow restricted space enhanced depth. This also helps bring out the distinctive features of every single fashion item and underscores the colours and the quality of the products.

In short, this exclusive boutique takes the form of a retail space which is dynamically swathed in sharply defined illuminated surfaces and areas of darkness, constantly alternating, vying for attention next to each other or in conjunction with one another, light purposefully switched on or off. Given the black walls, the dark flooring and the angular – also black – furnishings, the narrow stage-like space initially comes across as being grim and gloomy. Only through the specific use of light does the setting begin to look meaningful and determine the impact of the overall space.

The full version of the article can be found in PLD No. 104 as well as in our PLD magazine app (iPad App Store).


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