amsterdam: afura store opening

© afura

as in many dynamic cities, specific neighbourhoods are continuously on the move. the latter can certainly be said of oud west, an increasingly gentrified area of amsterdam with a fourishing retail and hospitality infrastructure that not appeals to a hipster audience from across town, but even from beyond the city limits. one of the recent openings of late that caters to such a demographic is afura. following an online presence and a number of pop-up installations in town to test the water, co-founders victor ter hark and len koster found an ideal location in oud west to establish their first permanent outpost.

the afura store occupies a ground floor unit of a red brick building from 1900, and features a whitewashed interior that contrasts beautifully with the pitch black lower façade. furnishings are few and simple, and comprise of sturdy wooden displays and shelving, and a suspended clothing rack showcases the coveted range of apparel items. adding a warm shimmer to the setting, is a chunky sales counter entirely clad in brass. the new afura store stocks a curated range of men's apparel, accessories and shoes, and the brand list currently includes coveted names such as harmony, daily paper, soulland, filling pieces and stutterheim. location: jan pieter heijestraat 164 [oud west].

© afura

singapore: hermès store renewal

© hermès

following an extensive renovation that took little over a year, hermès has reopened its store in singapore. situated at liat towers, a highrise mixed-use complex from the late 1970s, it's where the french luxury house first set up shop in the city thirty years ago. as said, the revamp was an elaborate job, resulting in not only a new interior and expanded retail space, but also a striking grid façade that's somewhat reminiscent of the renewed hermès boutique in beverly hills. the ornate statuette on the roof – if you should ask, it's a horse-mounted firework maker, and the character was originally created to mark the luxury brand's 150th anniversary back in 1987 – marks its special status as flagship store.

inside, it's four floors of signature discreet splendour, all designed by paris-based practice rdai, and with each presenting a different segment of hermès' elaborate luxury product range. given the total space of 670 sqm. [7,212 sq.ft.], it's the full package that's alluringly presented here in different settings throughout the premises. these different sections are, for the most part, tied in by pristine white floors and teak flooring. the ground floor presents leather accessories, fragrances, men's apparel, shoes and accessories, and going one floor up, by way of a meandering wooden staircase, shoppers will find women's apparel, bags, shoes and jewellery.

the third floor is home to the elaborate homeware line and furniture, and there's even a special corner with the brand's iconic equestrian gear. also situated here, is a lavish v.i.p. suite for the most discerning of shoppers. the top floor features aloft, the store's very own exhibition space. mind you, it's one of only five hermès stores on the planet that has such a gallery space on the premises. the venue's inaugural show, entitled how to disappear into a rainbow, presents an installation with an ethereal feel by singaporean artist dawn ng. location: liat towers, 541 orchard road, shop 01-02a [orchard west].

© hermès

new york: away pop-up store

© away / photography: albert cheung, frame

as an emerging travel brand that caters to a new breed of savvy travelers, away has a good notion of their needs and requirements. founders steph korey and jen rubio roamed the globe on a mission to explore the best options and possibilities. the quest has resulted in the carry-on, a quality luggage piece that not only covers almost any kind of wanderlust, but also features nifty extras. the duo are now taking their operations to a new level, and have cleverly embedded their trophy product in a newly launched pop-up concept store in new york city's noho neighbourhood. designed in collab with local design studio visibility,

the interior takes cues from renowned concept stores like colette in paris and london's goodhood, resulting in engaging, playful, and last but not least, good-looking shopping environs that sees the building's original shell matched with a varied palette of modern elements. the away store occupies an elongated ground floor space, and features two contrasting backdrops and settings that highlight the company's fave destinations, being tokyo and stockholm. accordingly, one side signals tradition and heritage through exposed red bricks, and opposite, by way of a sharply stuccoed wall, nordic understatement.

the space is furnished with similar chunky displays, but fully adapted to each side's strict design codes. three large suspended partitions, all in airplane window shape, playfully mark the division between the two store sections. so, what else is on the shelves? next to the aforementioned signature suitcase, the away blarf, a hybrid travel blanket/scarf will be available, in addition to a collab bicycle with tokyobike, a collab cosmetics box with cap beauty, and a curated range of compatible lifestyle products from japan and sweden. the away pop-up store will be open to shoppers through aug 31. location: 325 lafayette street [noho].

© away / photography: albert cheung, frame

amsterdam: zoku hotel opening

© zoku + concrete / photography: ewout huibers

with the arrival of the digital age, the dynamics of daily life have dramatically changed, and this is perhaps especially the case for the majority of creative professionals around the planet, whose livelihoods are every much rooted in this boom era. catering to this nomadic demographic is zoku, a nifty and acclaimed hospitality concept created by hans meyer and marc jongerius, two dutch professionals with a combined background in hospitality and finance under their belt. the zoku project – in case you wondered, zoku means family or tribe in japanese – was announced early last year, but only now has it really taken off, with the recent opening its first property in amsterdam.

the choice to open on home turf isn't accidental as the dutch capital is a leading hub of innovation, and as such it's home to an increasing number of new generation ventures, companies, and last but not least, the prerequisite professionals that make it all happen. anticipating the mobility and requirements of this demographic, zoku's design by amsterdam-based practice concrete intentionally blurs the lines adopted in traditional hospitality, creating not only a seamless transition between private and social, but also between leisure and work. but let's first talk about the rooms. a total of 133 pads are spread over five floors, and they come in four different categories, each featuring a different size.

at 16 sqm. [172 sq.ft.], the zoku room is the most compact, but features all the modern comfort and amenities to rest and work. interestingly, it can be rented as an adjacent room to the bigger zoku loft xl. mind you, all of the rooms boast cool contemporary design that maximizes the use of the space through clever solutions, such as a sliding staircase and elevated sleeping. the zoku loft comes with a full-fledged kitchen, and as its name already implies, it's slightly bigger. the zoku loft xl measures 30 sqm. [323 sq.ft.] and easily accommodates two. see the artworks? these can actually be swapped to better suit your mood or taste.

each floor boasts a so-called art library, allowing you to customize your private domain to a certain degree. at 46 sqm. [495 sq.ft.], the zoku loft xxl definitely is the op pad in the house, providing even a second sleeping space that's a complete bedroom. all rooms come with complimentary wifi, dimmable led lighting, and the equally stylish bathrooms feature a separate shower section. let's go back to the public areas and facilities, or in true zoku parlance, the social spaces. exiting the elevator on the top floor, a glass-encased corridor with lush plants and outdoor verandas leads to the beating heart of the property, offering sweeping views of the city along the way.

guests will find up here a playfully designed, hybrid social hub with homey touches that allows them to work, play and mingle. the bar, living room, restaurant and communal working spaces are each a seamless extrapolation of the other, and as such a perfect place to spend an entire day. obviously, free wifi is available here as well. and when it's time to do serious business, meeting rooms and a large events space are readily available on the very same floor. a european roll-out of the zoku concept is already in the making, with the next two properties scheduled to open in paris in the near future. location: weesperstraat 105 [plantage].

© zoku + concrete / photography: ewout huibers

tokyo: new nostalgia

© wataru komachi

japanese multimedia artist wataru komachi isn't shy to experiment. in fact, he thrives by it. known to be a jack of all trades, his focus is compatibly eclectic, and his artwork not only reflects that aspect, but also a deep interest in society and culture. komachi currently has an installation at the gallery space of method, a renowned retail consultancy in tokyo's buzzing shibuya district. the show is entitled new nostalgia, and as its name already loosely implies, it presents a series of new artworks, including photography, paintings and collages. the latter are mostly crafted from found and used japanese products, vintage fans and printed paper. komachi has cretaed a mini-universe, using a a vocabulary all his own to get his theme across [on through jun 18]. location: 1-3-1 higashi [shibuya].

© wataru komachi

new york: the row store opening

© the row / photography: françois halard

the olsens have finally arrived in new york city. well, sort of. they've actually lived there for quite some time, but following the launch of a boutique for their fashion brand the row in los angeles two years ago, the duo have now opened a much-anticipated second store, just off madison avenue on manhattan's swanky upper east side. situated in an early 20th century brownstone townhouse, it's a new milestone for the fraternal twins, who received no formal fashion education whatsoever, but clearly possess a strong and innate sense of both style and business. interestingly, the new york store location was found before the olsens opened up shop in california, but since it wasn't immediately available, it was l.a. where they first launched themselves into the retail arena.

the row's newest outpost measures a grand 4,000sq.ft. [372 sqm.], set over three floors, and features an interior that was designed by the designers in collab with jacques grange, a lauded interior architect from paris. the premises ooze the vibe of a private apartment – albeit a very sophisticated one – rather than your usual high-end boutique brimming with baubles and trophies, and is dotted with cherry-picked mordern furnishings and artworks. the ground floor is home to a salon-like space where the brand's shoes and bags are presented. a spiraling limestone staircase leads upstairs where the complete apparel collection is showcased, and on the third floor shoppers find accessories, in addition to a secluded private space for its most discerning clientele. location: 17 east 71st street [upper east north].

© the row / photography: françois halard

tokyo: sony

© jun co.

old skool style rules fierce at the par-king ginza's newest showcase. as mentioned in a previous post, the temporary retail concept is situated on two underground floors adjacent to the parking space of the sony building in ginza [1]. in celebration of the structure's 50th anniversary, and also the 70th anniversary of sony corporation, the parking ginza has initiated a quirky installation, simply entitled sony, that does justice to its out-of-the-box approach to retail. on display in a specially designed, and seemingly makeshift setting, are a series of wallets, pouches and cushions, all depicting products from sony's elaborate range, and interspersed with actual prototypes from the electronics giant's archive [on through jun 2]. coinciding with the exhibition is the opening a new installation a few floors up. called the sony innovation lounge [2], it's a permanent showcase where to ogle sony's newest product range. location [1]: sony building, 5-3-1 ginza, levels -3 and -4 [ginza]. location [2]: sony building, 5-3-1 ginza, level 5 [ginza].

© jun co.

st. petersburg: au pont rouge store renewal

© architecture at large / photography: alexey bogolepov

in a relatively short period of time, a stratum of wealthy russians emerged and became one europe's most voracious consumers of luxury goods, and despite their homeland's many economic woes of late, that segment remains surprisingly flourishing. it's particularly evident in the retail landscape of moscow, but also in st. petersburg luxury retailers pull out all the stops to keep the swashbuckling shopper demographic happy and come back for more. this is certainly the case with au pont rouge, a storied department store which dates back to pre-russian revolution days. housed in an imposing art nouveau-style building along the moyka river in the heart of town, it reopened last year as the city's leading luxury lifestyle hub, but only after it was extensively renovated. and now, the palatial au pont rouge sees a further, and rather stunning, transformation with the opening of its third and fourth floors.

for this project, new york city-based practice architecture at large was enlisted to create inspiring shopping environs, and dare we say it's a mission that's more than accomplished. interestingly, the design of chief architect rafael de cárdenas has placed circular changing area at the very centre of both floors, allowing a less traditional and flexible lay-out that adapts to different configurations, pop-ups and other events, all below matchingly futuristic canopies of shiny metal. au pont rouge carries top brands from around the planet, but also cool russian labels, and these newly revealed floors present a quirky selection of men's and womens's apparel. currently in stock are coveted names, such as rick owens, alena akhmadullina, maison margiela, cédric charlier and gosha rubchinskiy. location: au pont rouge, naberezhnaya reki moiki 73, third and fourth floors [tsentralniy].

© architecture at large / photography: alexey bogolepov

online: feit sandals

© feit

when sunnier climes arrive, we just love to free our toes from the usual contraint and switch to appropriate footwear. well, as long as it's comfy and cool. and there's no doubt, feit's hand-moulded leather sandal is a perfect option. it's an updated version of a classic feit model thatt takes cues from the japanese geta flip-flops. the robust-looking unisex sandal has two broad straps and a footbed that's a tad wider and hand-moulded for more comfort. the straps are attached with just eight simple hand stitches, and the footbed is lined with cork and natural latex. it's a limited edition model, and comes in white, black or sand. the sandal is available at feit stores in sydney and new york city, but if you reside elsewhere, you can also order these trophies online.

© feit

singapore: aesop store opening

© snøhetta

not all that glitters, is gold, but the new aesop store at singapore's ion orchard mall surely knows how to trick one's perception. it's the australian cosmetics brand's seventh signature store in the city, and sees a renewed collab with snøhetta, the directional oslo-based architecture practice. at aesop, behind each store design there's a story, and this outpost is no exception. taking cues from bustling orchard road's origins as a nutmeg plantation and the store's subterranean location, it features an upside-down forest comprising of using a palette of warm and sensual materials, colours and shapes. the ceiling is a true eye-catcher, comprising of timber battens suspended in an undulating formation. bare concrete walls dipped in pink form a matching background for the custom-made furnishings. these include a sales counter, a circular demonstartion counter with built-in sink, and last but not least, sleek floor-to-ceiling displays, and all clad in shiny brass. the new aesop boutique carries the brand's full range of skin, body and hair care products. location: ion orchard, 2 orchard turn, shop b3-66 + 66a [orchard west].

© snøhetta