amsterdam: our current obsessions store opening

© another something

creative multi-tasker joachim baan has dipped his toe in many pools, and has along the way garnered a certain degree of fame with his discerning preference for all things well-designed. baan has now taken his operations to a new level, opening a hybrid concept space which showcases a tightly edited selection of what his roving eye has spotted. called our current obsessions, it's a studio, gallery and retail space rolled into one, and situated in the heart of amsterdam's canal district. the whitewashed space is furnished in a mid-century style, mixing vintage pieces with modern elements. interestingly, our current obsessions carries rotating and themed offerings, all hand-picked by the man himself. the inaugural showcase is called noir, and is in fact a collab with gertrud & george. the swiss brand presents a beautifully crafted, 21-piece collection of bags and small leather accessories. all in black, of course. the stellar pieces are supplemented by a string of quirky pickings in the same hue, ranging from cosmetics and scented candles, to books, ceramics and artwork. location: schippersgracht 7 [centrum].

© another something

tokyo: tgraphics

© parco

japanese fashion brand undercover has gained global cult status thanks to the vision of jun takahashi. since its inception in 1990, the brand's creative director has laid a foundation for its current reputation by releasing an edgy series of hand-printed t-shirt designs for friends while still in college. these designs quickly caught the eye of icons in japan's fashion scene, followed by a growing number of fans abroad soon thereafter. currently on at parco museum, the exhibition space of the colossal shibuya parco department store, is tgraphics, an exhibition which not only brings together a selection of original graphic prints, sketches and vintage t-shirts that have been used in undercover collections in the past 25 years, but there'll also be a special t-shirt collection available for sale at the venue [on through sep 23]. location: shibuya parco part 1, 15-1 udagawa-cho, 3rd floor [shibuya]. 

© parco

oslo: paleet mall renewal

© paleet / photography: einar aslaksen

an unprecedented buzz has shaken up sleepy oslo, putting the city's retail landscape on a fast-track to modern lifestyle relevance and bring it a little more in line with the spending power of its inhabitants. mind you, this is the capital city of one of the planet's most affluent nations, but when walking the streets there's little retail evidence that bears witness to it. but that's now going to change. a handful of foreign luxury brands have already set up shop downtown, but the recent reopening of paleet mall can be seen as the official kick-off of a new era of upscale shopping in the city. originally opened in 1990, the mall has been given a thorough make-over by architecture practice jarmund/vigsnæs and a small group of local design experts. the aim was to retain the mall's existing atmosphere, but add a contemporary yet upscale layer, one that would be inviting, fun, and last but not least, reflect its new status as a sophisticated urban lifestyle hub.

architects håkon vigsnæs and einar jarmund have come up with an audacious palette in which copper plays a dominant role. the shiny metal has been applied throughout the premises, adding a warm glow to walls, columns and shop façades, and it even appears in undulating ceiling grids. the shiny splendour is balanced by marble flooring and segments covered in wood. the richness in texture is balanced by demure marble and terrazzo flooring, segments in cedar wood and alternating columns covered in brown leather. a true eye-catcher is a chandelier construction, placed inside the mall's central atrium, and which creates various light scenarios during the day. with its aim to offer the norwegian capital a whole new lifestyle experience, paleet's directory is obviously one of curated shops and hospitality establishments.

the design makes a clear distinction between public areas and stores, emphasizing the latter through architectural markings. so, what can be found here? it's home to almost 30 high-end boutiques, offering men's + women's fashion, shoes and accessories. but stealing the show here at paleet - especially from an international perspective - is newly established concept store yme. a striking retail project with pan-scandinavian ambitions, it offers oslo's demographic of discerning shoppers an entirely new range of options with a tightly edited range of edgy apparel and accessories collections for men, design objects and art, all amidst a setting designed by directional architecture firm snøhetta. adding up to the lifestyle equation are a handful of restaurant concepts, each with a flavour and vibe of their own. location: karl johans gate 37-43 [sentrum].

© paleet / photography: einar aslaksen

global: stan smith special release

© adidas

celebrating their long standing relationship with adidas, three leading stores with a global appeal will release a special premium editions of the sportswear giant's iconic stan smith sneaker on wed - sep 10. we're talking barneys, dover street market and colette, three trailblazers in the world of retail. this limited edition all-white sneaker highlights the stan smith's minimal form, with barneys' and colette's logo engraved on the shoe tongue and dover street market's version is discreetly blank, which effortlessly illustrates the full notion of ‘less is more’. named after american tennis player stan smith, it's the signature shoe he wore when reigning the courts in the 1960s and 1970s. mind you, to protect the icon status of the shoe, adidas halted production of the stan smith sneaker at the end of 2011. the shoe returned to market in fall 2013 in a limited edition execution in premium leather. its silhouette has been modernized, but stays true to the sneaker style and classic white and green colourway. this limited edition version of the shoe will be an introduction to the wider release of the stan smith throughout 2014.

© adidas

stockholm: aesop store opening

© aesop

continuing its european expansion, aesop has entered the scandinavian market by opening a signature store in stockholm. the shop is situated in norrmalm, the swedish capital's leading shopping district and home to a vast array of department stores and boutiques. the interior design is the result of a collab between local architecture practice in praise of shadows and swedish artist lies-marie hoffmann, and features an abundance of wood. and for apparent reasons, as the design is inspired by a quirky blend of author jun'ichiro tanizaki's philosophy on aesthetics and the cinematography of renowned nordic directors ingmar bergman and lars von trier.

the controlled shape of the sales counter, sink and bench, and the material's uncontrolled structure - all made by hoffmann of large chunks of elm from nearby woods, and the artist's preferred material for the past few years - reflect the suppressed strength by social norms and human relations of many of their characters. while the back section of the store and the flooring are also made of wood, it's offset by polished walls and a ceiling in a soft beige hue. the new aesop store carries the australian cosmetics brand's full range of skin, body and hair care products. to celebrate the opening, aesop commissioned a short film, shot by photographer peter farago and stylist ingela klemetz-farago, which will be shown in-store. location: jakobsbergsgatan 5-9 [norrmalm].

© aesop

superchat the hague: bart zwanenburg + johan stork

© common kin - partners in retail: johan stork, bart zwanenburg and sam manus

the hague is the dutch government seat, and abroad better known for its frequently headlining international court of justice than being an happening shopping destination. but a small quirky store, tucked away in a downtown alley, fosters plans to reach out far beyond - they actually already do... - with an appealing retail message, and could somewhat change the city's rep in that specific field. we're talking common kin, a cool menswear shop founded by retail veteran johan stork [js], and his partners bart zwanenburg [bz] and sam manus. this innovative trio thinks big and out of sheer passion, with a holistic approach of the retail business. the store's identity, the merchandise on offer, and the meticulously planned online expansion, all of it reflects a balance many retailers could learn from. superfuture sat down with johan and bart to talk some retail and see what they're up to.
 
how did common kin come about? [js]: i’ve worked for 14 years for a local retail chain, both as a buyer and store manager. i have more or less honed most of my retail skills there, and during a period of time when it was still a leading player in the field. before I started with common kin i had had several plans to set up a business of my own, but market conditions proved to be too tough to go ahead with it. but the retail game changed dramatically through the [previous] economic crisis and the internet boom, those two factors created exciting new opportunities. mind you, the initial business plan of common kin actually included an online store.
 
i had already contacted an online marketeer and a graphic designer to collaborate and create a full-fledged concept around it. although i initially hired them for their expertise, i had envisioned to offer them to participate in the store once they had made the concept their own. i’m all for collaboration, common kin as a store name hasn’t been chosen by accident, you know. i seek kindred spirits, to make connections, and that’s also what our logo reflects. well, that’s how the story started back in summer 2011. and only after two months after the store launch, bart dropped by. wielding a camera, he was exploring downtown the hague for a school assignment. 
 
[bz]: indeed! i was studying trend watching and concept development at the time. i had tagged along with a friend of mine who interested in film and fashion, and who had an avid interest in retail. when we arrived here i was immediately taken by common kin’s shop concept and atmosphere. i liked the interior of the shop and the warm and personal approach of the customers. so, i got into a lively conversation with johan, and kept in touch with him ever since. i happened to be looking for a job on the side, and frequently inquired about one at the store. a few months later when johan was about to leave for berlin on a buying trip, he proposed to join him .
 
that trip sort of sealed the deal, we got along really well and i was hired. during the next two years i worked as a sales associate while additional tasks such as branding and online activities had been delegated to me as well, allowing me to develop my skills. [js]: us getting to work together happened quite organically, but bart used some bluff to get the job. to be honest, I was actually looking for someone with a certain tenacity, drive, and more importantly, knowledge of how to present yourself online. i acknowledged very early on how important it is in the retail business to clearly communicate your identity online.
 

© common kin

bart just seemed to have all it takes. besides, we had that necessary click during our trip to berlin. [bz]: after two years the next step came up. I had planned to finish my education abroad but meanwhile we had developed a clear division of tasks. but by then it was merely a question of merely leaving or participate in the common kin business. it took me a little while to consider but it became clear to me what I wanted and I quit my studies to start full-time as a partner at the store. we almost immediately started to brainwave how to set up our online business. [jh]: we already had a couple of meetings with third parties when during summer of last year sam manus, a regular customer of ours, walked into the store.
 
as usual we started chatting about brands, new developments, and at one point he also suggested going online with our business. well, that suggestion was very well timed. it turned out he was working as a fashion e-consulting specialist at one of the biggest e-commerce consultancy firms here in the netherlands, and because sam liked our shop so much, he proposed to help us out by offering his expertise for free. astonishingly, the next time we met he came up with an extensive online report on the brands had been carrying. it was very detailed, indicating the most popular brands, even to the level of specific products and styles people were looking for online. 
 
[bz]: he even had calculated the quantities we should be buying, sam’s analysis was incredibly extensive. [jh]: obviously, we were impressed and as a result sam has become common kin’s third partner. he has kept his day job at the consultancy firm but is now doing e-commerce for our store on the side. we’d love to have him full-time on our team but we’d have to bulk up our operations first. but I’d like to emphasize that it all happened organically, and i think it would’ve been quite frustrating if i had to actively search for a guy like him. i truly believe it all fell into place because we try to be innovative and different in everything we do. and even though each of us has a different expertise, we inspire and complement each other. 
 
what’s the concept of common kin’s store interior? [js]: the specific feel we put into putting our collections together should be translated into the physical store and our online presence. a classic base is always our departure point, but interpreted in a clean, contemporary way. it’s what i tried to instill in tessa kuyvenhoven, architect and founder of studio intussen. i didn’t want to discuss materials, colours and design, i just wanted to make sure she understood who we were and create a corresponding design, leaving everything up to her trusted skills. this resulted in the use of original and pure materials, such as cardboard, untreated mdf and steel. it has all been captured in, what i think, is good design with a subtle wow effect.
 
that’s actually also what I also seek in collections. you know, for me a pair of pants doesn’t need three legs to baffle me. two legs will suffice, as long as there’s an added value in the fit, shade…or anything. i need to be triggered by innovation of some sort. so, the like-mindedness in this project was pretty essential. [bz]: we further tweaked the design of the store when we decided to go more high-end with common kin. but the alteration has been done in a very accessible way, without making the store too austere or too cold. [jh]: we intentionally shunned very luxurious materials, partially due to costs, but mainly because it isn’t what our concept and vision stands for.
 
how would you describe the profile of your customer? [js]: i’d say a more mature kind of customer of about 25 years and older. but when it comes to formal garments that would be 35 years and over. you know, we mainly consider ourselves as our target audience, and i trust there’s a crowd out there that share our aesthetic view on clothes, ha! we actually pull quite a lot of brand-conscious creatives to our doorstep. [bz]: yeah, particularly a specific group in and around the hague.
 

© common kin

streetwear and fashion have increasingly merged over the years. has this trend influenced the way you purchase collections for the store? [js]: we certainly don’t wish to bring together stüssy and marni, but follow a trail somewhere in the middle. to us labels such as alexander wang are streetwear, but its approach to design is more sophisticated. this kind of style seamlessly matches carven, which is one of our new labels. the inspiration of carven’s current collection are mobsters from the 1920s, which manifests in prints and the elements taken from suiting from that era, beautifully mixing up streetwear and contemporary style. [bz]: it’s interesting to see that internet has very much indicated that fashion increasingly is happening in the street, much more than back in the day when only catwalk shows were relevant. the number of fashion blogs simply prove that. so, streetwear has gained tremendously in popularity and i would say it has invaded the realm of high fashion. 
 
so, you recently launched an online store. is there a difference in what you offer online and offline? [js]: not really. but there’ll be a slight difference during sale periods and when new merchandise arrives. sale offerings will be longer available in our brick and mortar environment while the newest items will be first introduced online. but the majority of brands that we carry increasingly offer four collections instead of only two. carven and marni for instance, now also release t-shirt collections when their respective autumn-winter collections have just dropped in stores. this spread has made the retail business commercially more interesting for us. i think it’s something which could be further improved within fashion retail. [bz]: this spread also enables you as a retailer to do the same with your budget. in northern europe the climate is a leading factor, we're dealing with four separate seasons here. but i can imagine circumstances are somewhat different if you’re a retailer in, let's say, australia.
 
it comes across that the launch of your online store is in fact a reboot of your overall online presence. what are your plans exactly? [bz]: common kin should be a platform with a certain appeal and where people love to shop. there are two different approaches as an online retailer: you either build your identity around your online store, or you create an identity with additional content, such as a blog. we aim to do something in the middle, by presenting our merchandise in a certain way but also with editorial content. we plan to collaborate with photographers, stylists and editors to achieve that. we just love to share our view of fashion. [js]: the styling bit won't be added to dictate people how to wear it, but to propose possibilities. it'll be a presentation that'll make us happy too. as said, we consider ourselves clients of common kin.
 
how important is social media for you? [bz]: we've had quite a few talks about the topic. it's an important element of our online presence and it's a great way to reach out too. but it also seems a quantity-driven thing with the objective to gain as much likes as possible, while to us it's merely about expressing ourselves and keeping it real. [js]: it's nice that our growing clientele abroad has positively affected our facebook and instagram page, but we prefer quality over quantity, and we hope to reflect that in our communication.
 
what's your view on common kin's in-store relationship with the customer? [js]: well, just be yourself. be sincere. we're not the kind of sales associates who'll be telling you how well that shirt matches the colour of your eyes. we're enthusiastic about our store and we'll passionately tell you about our collections. that's it. [bz]: and we serve good coffee!
 
any plans for the future that you can already reveal? [js]: for the next few seasons our focus will be our online platform. we're actually not fully sure how to evaluate our current brick and mortar presence at this location. we do have plans with the store which we can't reveal yet, but they could very well have an influence on the decision to stay put or to relocate elsewhere. so, there'll be expansion in the near future but mainly one with an online focus. i don't mean to be arrogant or pretentious, but i'd like us to create a solid name for ourselves. 
 

© common kin

paris: l'épicerie bar opening

© ballantine's

at the beginning of this year ballantine's launched the bar project, a design contest which offered entrepreneurs across france the chance to design his or her own dream bar. well, over 100 designs were submitted, all reviewed by a panel of lifestyle experts which included simon baldeyrou, c.e.o. of deezer france, interior designer laura leonard, artistic director + nightlife connaissuer hirmane abdoulhakime, and mathieu deslandes, marketing director of pernod-ricard. out of three finalists they picked rising mixologist abdou el asfar's design as the winner. entitled l'épicerie, el afsar’s design is inspired by a traditional night market where customers are able to browse its inviting shelves, select their own ingredients and which then form the base of their cocktail of choice. bartenders will then create an innovative whisky cocktail with these ingredients, selecting the most appropriate expression from the ballantine's range to match. the winning bar design has now been recreated on the premises of chacha, a popular club in the st.-honoré area of the city of lights, and will remain open for the next six weeks. location: chacha, 47 rue berger [st.-honoré].

© ballantine's

new york: becoming robot

© asia society / john bigelow taylor - 10 wooden tv cabinets, 1 radio cabinet, 1 korean printing block, 1 korean book [2007]

asia society's expertise is multi-faceted, and not surprisingly also includes contemporary art by leading asian artists. opening today at its headquarters in new york city is an exhibition dedicated to nam june paik [1932-2006], the american-korean artist who's generally considered the founder of video art. the nam june paik - becoming robot show is the first major presentation of the artist in town in more than a decade, and explores his visionary use of new technologies, and the lasting impact his contributions have had on the development and appreciation of new media art. the show highlights paik’s lifelong interest in humanizing technology and his prescient view of how technological innovations would become an integral aspect of our daily lives. on display are a number of artworks that have rarely been exhibited or never before shown stateside, in addition to drawings and sculptures from nam june paik's estate and objects and ephemera on loan from the newly formed nam june paik archive. the exhibition focuses on three areas of the artist’s career: paik’s artistic and working methods with an emphasis on his process, his philosophy toward technology, and the intersection of technology and culture [on through jan 4]. location: asia society, 725 park avenue [upper east].

© electronic arts intermix - still from good morning mr orwell [1984] and friedrich rosenstiel - paik sitting in tv chair [1968/1976]

supertalk: behind the brand 'song for the mute'

supertalk: behind the brand 'song for the mute'

Lester Jones presents Behind The Brand, a series of in-depth studies of international brands and their makers. This feature is foucsed on the long-time Superfuture favuorites Melvin Tanaya and Lyna Ty - who continue to push the boundaries of high quality australian design.  

london: goodhood flagship store opening

© goodhood

jo sindle and kyle stewart have come a long way. the founding couple of goodhood fame, a directional style emporium which helped to put shoreditch on the global map of cool, have once again stepped up their profile with a brand new flagship in the neighbourhood. tucked away in a little side street, occupying 3,000 sq.ft. spread over two floors, the new store allows the founders to fully showcase their retail vision by way of a wide range of edited men's and women's fashion and lifestyle offerings. known to take matters into their own hands, sindle and stewart designed the store interior themselves. aiming for a welcoming retail setting that would also reflect the intimacy of their smaller previous shop, the goodhood flagship store features separate sections that harmoniously flow together.

at the same time the decor needed to be a statement of heightened sophistication, and more luxurious materials such as marble were introduced in the design. but don't expect anything over the top, the aesthetic is clean and simple with a playful accent here and there. the aforementioned shop sections are grouped by colour, theme or brand, and aim to offer shoppers a direction and help them understand what can work together. as said, this store offers a rather complete range of goods, featuring an impressive mix of directional brands such as junya watanabe, aesop, mm6, norse projects and perks and mini. make sure you drop by if you're hunting for trophies in the neighbourhood. location: 151 curtain road [shoreditch].

© goodhood