london: balmain store opening

© balmain

balmain is back on top. creative director olivier roustaing's brazen sense of style and the much-publicized chummy liaisons he has formed with some of today's most iconic stars in music, fashion and tabloids, have made the fashion house bounce back to premium relevance. this glorious renaissance is also reflected in balmain's retail network as new boutiques are opened to keep up with the rising demand. and the latest addition is a boutique in london's upscale mayfair area. located on the ground floor of a late 19th-century red brick and terracotta townhouse, it measures a sizeable 125 sqm. [1,346 sq.ft.] and dons a sophisticated interior design by paris-based architect joseph dirand.

the design concept is an evocative one, based on creating a parisian townhouse worthy of being a be a pied-à-terre for pierre balmain, the founder of the historic fashion brand. dirand applied some tweaks to reference the neighbourhood, and blended in elements from the aristocratic queen anne revival style. doors, ceilings, mirrors and a large stone fireplace all reflect the classically sober english style. the stone floor’s striking geometric design, created with beige thalas and grey hainaut stone, is a modern take on traditional english parquet patterns. additionally, dirand created furniture pieces inspired by mid-century french furniture designers andré arbus and jean royère. the new balmain boutique carries the brand's full range of women's and men's apparel, denim pieces, bags, shoes and accessories. location: 69 south audley street [mayfair].

© balmain

superchat paris: jumpei seki

photo source: eyescream

now a steadily expanding lifestyle store chain, 1ldk took tokyo by storm when it first opened up shop in naka meguro nearly six years ago. despite the market's fiercely competitive dynamics, it has managed to carve a niche position with a very considered concept that pairs timeless, well-designed lifestyle products with a unique retail context. after opening a string of stores in the homeland, 1ldk has ventured abroad, opening an outpost in the city of light. we dropped by the new store during men's fashion week's previous edition to meet with general manager jumpei seki and have a chat about his company and its particular retail vision. shop manager shotaro aoyama, a longtime resident in paris and well-connected in the fashion and retail scene, joined in to translate and fill us in on a slew of noteworthy facts about the company.

can you elaborate on how 1ldk came about? well, first there was i.d.land company, it's the parent company of the 1ldk stores, and has been operating for quite some time in the japanese fashion industry, manufacturing garments and accessories. the company's owner, mr fukuzawa, wanted to set up a retail division, and that became 1ldk. a complete retail concept was drafted, outlining the interior design, the goods that would be carried, basically everything. but the main idea was to create an appealing context for a collection of lifestyle goods. the name 1ldk is actually an commonly used abbreviation in japanese real estate, meaning ‘one living room, one dining room, one kitchen’, and is a standard configuration of most apartments in japan. our store concept is a playful take on that, and the first 1ldk store in naka meguro actually opened in such an apartment.

with the merchandise you offer you propose a new kind of standard to your clients. what exactly do you mean by that? that's right. you see, when i turned 30 i began to realize that the fashion industry is simply too much about cycles and trends, and i just wanted to reverse it all by going back to a basic style that would nevertheless still be fashionable, but less prone to the volatility of fashion. in other words, we aim to create a different view on fashion with products that have an increased longevity. this means that we create our fashion items as staple designs, and we'll tweak them whenever we sense there’s a need or demand to do so.

what is the profile of the 1ldk customer? we’re already well-known as a lifestyle brand in japan, and our customers are generally regular people from all walks of life and from all age groups. you should know that we don’t target a fashion-conscious demographic. interestingly, our japanese stores cater to a lot of foreign shoppers as well. on another but related note, i frequently travel to paris for fashion week, but i’ve never encountered the kind of merchandise that we offer in japan over here. so, i was thinking that it might be a good opportunity to open a store in paris. opposite to a varied merchandise at home, we carry only men's collections here in paris. we'll feature five of six select brands from japan, supplemented by just a few foreign brands.

are there any trends you see happening in japan at this moment that are relevant to you and 1ldk? i look beyond volatile trends and focus more on a general vibe of a generation. with the info distilled from that we update our so-called design standard.

why did you choose to open up shop in paris and not in elsewhere in europe, say, in london or berlin? as said, i’ve been here many times before. so, i’ve gotten to know the city quite well. i’ve been to other places in europe, such as london, stockholm and copenhagen, but only once. i’m far less familiar with those cities. paris i know best, and opening a shop here felt just natural and the process leading up to it has been very organic. there wasn’t a business plan behind it. the same actually counts for our overall retail operations, and how all of our stores in japan came about. the store locations are often referrals by our friends, as is the case for our here on rue de la sourdière. we were tipped off by a friend who initially wanted to open a flower shop here.

but there’s already such a business further down the road, and local regulations prohibited him to go ahead with the plan. the place just felt right, and i simply proposed my plan to my boss. on top of that, i really liked the architecture, which is simple and clean, and it's very compatible with the 1ldk aesthetic. the interior design was done by another friend. we showed him a bunch of pictures of the existing stores in japan to let him get acquainted with retail identity. and he simply took it from there. except for one or two things that we brought from japan, everything has been made here in france, or has been sourced from here. but i've had a personal say in the design. for example, this table top that we found, the flip-side is now on top because the rougher surface looks much cooler.

what are 1ldk’s plans for the future, any plans you can already talk about? we’re very, very happy to have opened this shop in paris, but we’re already thinking of opening a second store here, most probably on rive gauche

london: create.destroy.create

© darren black 

cosmopolitan by nature and with a keen visual interest in his surroundings, darren black's trajectory towards professional photography was inevitable. very much part of the urban scene, in whichever town he chooses to be, darren easily connects and navigates to find all that he finds snap-relevant. not surprisingly, he's booked an endless list of campaigns and editorials for illustrious brands and magazines. pretty much a jack of all trades, black continuously reinvents himself and his latest incarnation is that of a collage artist. opening thu - mar 5 [6pm-10pm] at dalston superstore in london is his first exhibition in that capacity. presented by arthole and aptly entitled create.destroy.create, the show pretty much reflects the outcome of a rampage through his archive of work to present, deconstructing and re-assembling photos and go full steam ahead in the name of unadulterated creativity. and as you can see, it's pretty awesome. location: 11 kingsland high street [dalston].

© darren black

tokyo: blue bottle café opening

© blue bottle / photography: andrew curry

founded in oakland in 2002 by entrepreneur james freeman, blue bottle has become a cult protagonist of quality coffee, opening a number of popular cafés – some even with an on-site coffee roastery – on the u.s. west and east coast. fussy about coffee, blue bottle's appeal is based on a product that's superfresh, and served in cool setting that has the feel of a neighbourhood's extended living room. a cool extended living room, to be precise. the company has now ventured abroad for the very first time, introducing its coffee retail concept to tokyo's discerning palates. occupying a 7,000 sq.ft. [650 sqm.] ground floor space of a converted printing factory in the kiyosumi area, blue bottle's newest outlet is certainly big enough to include a roastery, ensuring a daily supply of the prized black liquid. the interior design is courtesy of jo nagasaka of schemata architects, a tokyo-based practice familiar with and known for an austere, industrial aesthetic. not surprisingly, much of the printing factory's original elements have been retained, and next to the aforementioned roastery and a coffee bar, it features a kitchen and office space. blue bottle's new roastery will serve as the base for future expansion in the greater tokyo area. mind you, the next café is slated to open later this month in leafy aoyama. location: 1-4-6 hirano [kiyosumi].

© blue bottle / photography: takumi ota + andrew curry

online: deus cycleworks

© deus cycleworks

as sunnier climes lie ahead – seriously, we can't wait! – we're already pondering and planning fun things to do outdoors. and although we already spend time commuting on a bike every day, it's one of the activities we'd love to do more of, but in a leisure context instead. so, we've been eyeing the fine specimens of deus cycleworks, the bicycle collection of australian lifestyle brand deus ex machina. capturing its free spirit in a number of cool designs, each bicycle celebrates mobility, adventure, and the joy of life. and obviously, it's a great way to stay in shape. so, deus cycleworks have developed bikes that cater to any taste, mood, and purpose, and each boasts such crafty detailing, it's hard to make a pick. shown here are our two fave models: the cinelli track, a fixed gear bike with a columbus steel frame, a selle san marco saddle and front and rear brakes. the other model we fancy, the fat tyre, is a but more urban. this trophy model comes with a handmade frame [available in two versions: horizontal top tube straight or cruiser frame, a selle san marco saddle and a coaster brake. click here to view the additional tech details and options, and to have a peek at the other bike models. the bikes are available at deus ex machina stores across the planet, but can also be ordered online.

© deus cycleworks

paris: sajigohan pop-up restaurant

after last month's culinary stint at colette's popular waterbar, sajigohan relocates a few blocks away and morphs into a pop-up restaurant, and just in time for the next round of fashion week hoopla. opening today, and for the next ten days only, it's an initiative by miho – a japanese fashion photographer and food expert based in tokyo and paris – and serves a range of authentic japanese bites. abiding by the creed you are what you eat, the menu lists dishes that aren't just tasty. they're light, nutritious, and obviously packed with quality ingredients only. mind you, more than ten years ago miho set up a glossy food magazine in her native japan which elaborates on the multi-faceted world of food and the art of cooking, showing off her own cooking style and talking to chefs and other creatives. needless to say, sajigohan aims to tickle all of your senses. well, alsmost all. fancy a bite? then click here to make a reservation. location: 16 rue marie stuart [étienne marcel].

© sajigohan

moscow: albert watson

© albert watson - heel on stovetop, las vegas [2000]

trained as a graphic designer, albert watson [1942] initially took on photography as a mere hobby. he spent many years doing various stints to make a living, and it was only when he arrived in the u.s. that his career as a photographer took off. watson's lucky break was a test shoot for global cosmetics firm max factor, and not long after that his distinct photography style would grace the covers of some of the planet's leading fashion magazines, capture prestigious ad campaigns, and portray the biggest names in film and showbiz. the latter certainly made him a household name in that specific industry, adding extra lustre to his curriculum. an exhibition of watson's work has just opened at the multimedia art museum in moscow, and forms part of a fashion + style in photography program of the moscow international biennale. on this occasion, the new york-based lensman has flown into town to attend the exhibition opening and to give a special master class to local photo buffs [on through may 10]. location: location: ulitsa ostozhenka 16 [khamovniki].

© albert watson - mike tyson, catskills, new york [1986]

melbourne: belmore store opening

© belmore

belmore craft men's and women's footwear and accessories with an artisanal edge. its product range is made using simple construction methods and a straightforward design, with an emphasis on quality materials, function and longevity. after having opened two temporary signature stores at homebase melbourne, belmore has recently launched a new downtown location at somerset place. similarly to the previous stores, the interior here leans on an industrial look. the side walls and floor come in a pristine white hue, framing an expansive partition of repurposed metal mesh panels which conceals a storage space, and ties in a custom-made sales desk made from oxidized iron. additional furnishings have been kept to a minimum and feature display units and benches to present its collection of shoes and accessories. the new belmore shop carries the brand's full range of men's and women's shoes and belts. location: 19 somerset place [cbd].

© belmore