TOKYO – When Parisian studio Ciguë renovated streetwear designer Julien David’s 200-sq-m Harajuku flagship, the intention was never for the architecture to steal the show. It was crucial that the store act as a set, allowing the ‘energy and fantasy’ of David's colourful, textured line of clothing and accessories to take centre stage. Equally important was a fluid concept that permits multiple functions and constant adaptation, an imperative driven by both the pace of the fashion world and David’s own dynamic rhythm of work.
Materiality blurs the line between indoors and outdoors. The ridged angles of the raw concrete that adorned the building’s façade were reproduced in plaster and applied to interior walls. Elsewhere, the exact dimensions of a timber table that David sourced from an art school were replicated in aluminium for the sales counter, while a concrete version can be found in the small exterior garden visible through the store’s rear windows.
Products are barely visible from the street. Instead, set against a minimal white backdrop are Ciguë’s ‘totems’: custom-designed display units constructed from gleaming brushed aluminium and fractured blocks of aerated concrete. ‘It’s like a spaceship crashed into a meteorite,’ says practice founder Hugo Haas. The studio’s industrial-design chops are evident here: the concrete blocks were smashed by hand in Ciguë’s workshop to achieve a contrast between smooth, worked surface and organic, rough edge. The team took the same approach to the ceiling: what look like parts of the mechanical system left ‘as is’ are the result of rerouted cables that have been painstakingly stripped of fire coating where possible.
Customers must navigate around the totems to discover the collection, encouraging a more personal, almost gallery-like interaction with the products. Haas calls the totems ‘transformers’, as they can be completely reconfigured to change their appearance; rearranged, the units can become a grid, a cluster or a structure that looks like a solid entity. This gives David a ‘toolkit’ to play with and ensures a continual evolution of the design – well after completion.
Read how the founders of Ciguë shaped their collective image in Frame 108, alongside other projects. Find your copy in the online Frame store.
Photo courtesy of Julien David