Bean Buro Brings a Touch of Japan to the Hong Kong Offices of Unicorn Stores
Unicorn Stores launched its line of department stores in 1985 to bring modern Japanese retail to Hong Kong. This year, it enlisted Paris/London-based design firm Bean Buro to work a similar magic on its 6,500-square-foot headquarters, in the trendy Eastern district of Quarry Bay.
First, Bean Buro cofounders, Lorène Faure and Kenny Kinugasa-Tsui, began researching Japanese architecture. The simple timber joinery of teahouses offered a way into creating a discrete reception desk. “The design utilizes various subtle Japanese elements as inspiration for bespoke elements,” throughout the space, explains Faure, “such as acoustic screens, wall art, and a gridded ceiling.”
Past reception, employees reach an open-plan workplace, with offices for department heads afforded privacy through a fresh take on Japanese screens: acoustic partitions, freshened up with custom textile designs of bright, pastel color fields. In the core, enclosed meeting rooms are defined by glass partitions to take advantage of the office’s ample natural light, which also fuels the growth of the many plants at home in integrated windowsill planters. That light floods the open work areas due to their consistent orientation towards the windows. Throughout, doorways and thresholds between rooms are marked by updated noren, traditional dividers of natural fabric.
In the café, collaboration booths gather between fluted glass screens, while pegboard walls serve as community signage. Custom graphics emblazon the pantry window’s roller blinds, complimented by the largely white material palette. Unicorn Store’s red brand identity pops up in the very bones of the space via grout, arches, and gradient glass.
“The key was to strike a delicate balance of creating a very strong company identity through the use of colors, gentry, and signages,” says Kinugasa-Tsui, “and still ensuring the workplace is a comfortable and soothing work setting.” It’s an accomplishment as rare as the unicorn itself.
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