As well as art, Louis Vuitton has long been a patron of architecture, particularly in Japan, changing the way luxury stores are viewed. Back in 1999, the brand commissioned cuttingedge Japanese architect Jun Aoki to design its store in Nagoya, Japan’s third city. What Louis Vuitton wanted was a statement building – and it got it. The simple geometric form of the building is covered in a shimmering façade, inspired both by Japanese art and Vuitton iconography.
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In 2002, Aoki went on to design the Louis Vuitton store in Omotesando, the exclusive Tokyo shopping street. The result resembled a pile of trunks stacked at random, connected by short corridors. Vuitton’s store inspired other big-name designers to follow suit and today, Omotesando is known as a showcase for modern architecture.
Next came the Louis Vuitton flagship store in Roppongi Hills, Tokyo, where Aoki created a bar, where customers can sit on stools and order bags piled up vertically, as if they were buying drinks. Perhaps the most spectacular Vuitton store in the world opened last year on its own island at the Marina Bay Sands resort in Singapore, designed by Boston-based architect Moshe Safdie. Safdie, who is most famous for the Habitat 67 apartments in Montreal – one of the great landmarks in 20th-century architecture – has created what has been called a mix between a museum and a cruise liner.
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The interiors came courtesy of Peter Marino, who designed the London flagship, as well as the stunning store in Las Vegas, the biggest in North America, housed in a Daniel Libeskind building. Marino describes his design philosophy in the simplest terms: “I just want somewhere I feel good, a nice place to be, somewhere my wife would buy a handbag and then not be dying to get the hell out straight away.”
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