Ginza Six by Curiosity: 2017 Best of Year Winner for Large Retail
Pulling off a minor miracle, a group of four developers has reinvented a department store’s site as a shopping mall and office space in the heart of the fashionable Ginza district. The 13-story building is the work of Yoshio Taniguchi. (Of Museum of Modern Art fame in the U.S.) The task of designing the 500,000-square foot mall interior fell to the firm led by Gwenael Nicolas. His solution? An unexpected brand of opulence that straddles experimentation and tradition to create a go-to shopping destination.
Take the central atrium. Aluminum louvers, layered over oak paneling, angle up toward a frosted skylight surfaced in washi paper printed with a hemp-leaf pattern. To Japanese visitors, the colors and lines evoke traditional design. The eyes of the less-initiated might see a futuristic fantasy. “That’s the power of a Japanese aesthetic,” the French-born Nicolas says. “Sometimes it looks classic, and sometimes it looks very avant-garde.”
The atrium is surrounded by more than 200 shops, each with a different floor plan. Signs guide shoppers along the idiosyncratic circulation paths, inspired by the twisting streets of an ancient city. To bring focus to the immense space, he invited artists to contribute installations. “The idea,” he says, “is for people to discover things—not just retail.” Participants have included Yayoi Kusama, whose trademark polka-dot pumpkins dangle overhead.