When luxury fashion retailer Alberta Ferretti decided to open her first standalone store featuring the namesake product, designers at David Ling Architects (New York) faced two challenges. One, Ferretti is in Emigla-Romagna, Italy, so designers had to work independently to create her vision. Two, the store is in Aoyama, Tokyo -- a mecca for fashion retailers such as Prada, Calvin Klein and Miu Miu - necessitating more long-distance design, plus dealing with a different culture.
But the designers were familiar with the brand, having worked previously on the retailer's Philosophy flagship in SoHo. So for the 2000-square-foot Tokyo store, which would house only the Ferretti collection, Ling conceptualized a fusion of layering, translucency, texture and craft that mimics the premier product.
"The idea was to have this simple, geometric, two-story pearlescent box that's indirectly lit and punctuated with surreal objects," says Ling. Portuguese limestone flooring and hand-burnished mother-of-pearl-colored walls lend a warm, ethereal feel to the space. Massive lightboxes on both floors in the store's rear provide most of the illumination. (Ling says Asian shoppers are accustomed to lots of light.) And a cone-shaped column made from ebonized American walnut links both floors, creating a dramatic focal point while contrasting with the light atmosphere. The stairs -- another visual contradiction -- feature steel beams clad in stone that appear to float with an all-glass railing. Though designers were unaccustomed to the Japanese "rhythm" (they spent a lot of time perfecting the design in the planning stage), construction was "lightning-quick." A Rome boutique is also scheduled to open this summer.
Client Team: Alberta Ferretti, Emigla-Romagna, Italy -- Massimo Ferretti, president; Alberta Ferretti, vp; Imamura, Sann Freres; Nakano, Mitsui & Co.
Design Team: David Ling Architect, New York -- David Ling, principal-in-charge; Tina Jokisch and Yuri Premerlani, assistants
Outside Consultants: Garde U.S.P. Co. Ltd., Tokyo (ceilings, signage, wallcoverings, fixturing, furniture); Bose Japan, Tokyo (audio/video); Sangetsu Co. Ltd., Tokyo (fabrics); David Ling Architect, New York (fixturing/furniture design); Advan Co. Ltd., Tokyo (Portuguese limestone flooring); AEFFE Spa, Rimini, Italy (mannequins/forms)
Photography: Nacasa & Partners, Tokyo