amsterdam: men at work store opening

© men at work / photography: ewout huibers

dutch retailer men at work is making a come back of sorts. set up in 1995 and primarily known for its denim offerings, it grew a nationwide network. but the fast expansion eventually came at a price. it wasn't just overexposure, the consumer's changing shopping behaviour and, more importantly, the lack of a modern and appealing identity has forced men at work to drastically change course. a management buy-out by mark hummelburg and jan roelofs, two of the company's board members, has made it happen. a number of outlets have been closed down and the focus now is on its biggest stores across the netherlands.

the new men at work retail formula had been launched earlier this year, but only recently has the retailer revealed its most prominent store. situated at magna plaza, a popular mall in downtown amsterdam, the store occupies a spacious basement unit with a modular configuration. the interior design by mark theeuwes cleverly incorporates the unit's original utlitarian features, and most elements have been dipped in a pristine white hue. this blank canvas forms the backdrop for a series of carefully selected props and custom-made furnishings that all aim to inject a major fun factor in the shopping experience.

the offerings at men at work consist of brands that are popular with a young, if not teen demographic. the denim has obviously remained - mind you, there's lots of it! - and is supplemented by various collections of complimentary brands and styles. now that an appealing retail formula seems to have been found, it'll be interesting to see how the retailer will be further tweaking its offerings to stay relevant to its key demographic in coming years. location: magna plaza, nieuwezijds voorburgwal 182, basement section [centrum].

© men at work / photography: ewout huibers

melbourne: mpavilion opening

© mpavilion / photography: earl carter

the melbourne-based naomi milgrom foundation - is the initiator of the newly opened and rather stunning mpavilion, idyllically set in the lush queen victoria gardens. it's the first of a new series of annual architecture commissions and design events initiated by the foundation, and lauded australian architect sean godsell was commissioned to create the inaugural structure. refined and simple, it measuring 12 x 12 meters and has a glazed roof and fully automated outer skin. the pavilion provides shade and shelter, and also filters the harsh sun.

with support from both the city council and the state government, each year for the next four years a celebrated architect will be asked to design a temporary pavilion at this location. landscape designer paul bangay was commissioned to design the perennial borders surrounding mpavilion, using 3,000 flowering perennials that'll flower throughout the summer. anything but a glittering empty shell, mpavilion is to host a very diverse and free program of cultural activities, ranging from performances and recitals, to workshops, lectures and readings [open through feb 1]. location: queen victoria gardens, st. kilda road [southbank].

© mpavilion / photography: earl carter

los angeles: objects without meaning pop-up store

© objects without meaning

headed by designer alexandra michelle, and in collab with creative director andrew hogge, the aesthetic of their fashion label objects without meaning is one that transcends the usually whimsical trends that rule most of the industry, and instead settles for a quirky yet still fashionable style of its own. creating both men's and women's collections, objects without meaning proposes simple, understated silhouettes, crafted in quality fabrics that allow individuals to add personal flair. the label is stocked at leading boutiques nationwide, but has now also launched a pop-up store on the lofty premises of space15twenty in los angeles where fans can snap up pieces from the latest men's and women's collections [open through oct 30]. location: 1520 north cahuenga boulevard [hollywood].

© objects without meaning

seoul: platform place store opening

© platform

platform is a leading retail and wholesale company in seoul. founded little over a decade ago, the company has introduced quite a number of leading foreign lifestyle brands in south korea, and now manages 36 stores and shop-in-shops nationwide. in 2009 it launched platform place, a separate retail entity with a heightened focus on fashion and culture-inspired merchandise that has a certain authenticity and history. gradually expanding, platform place has opened its fourth branch in the dynamic korean capital. the store is situated in the popular shopping district of itaewon where it occupies the ground floor of a lowrise building. the shop interior contrasts sharply with the rather bland façade, featuring walls and a ceiling covered in slabs of sandblasted plywood.

subtle tube lighting divides the vast ceiling into grids, and is paired with rows of spotlights. linoleum in an ivory white hue has been chosen as flooring. furnishings are equally simple and consist of a modular shelving system and modular display tables and cabinets. the new platform place store carries an edited selection of lifestyle goods that caters to the lifestyle of a growing number of young shoppers that prefer quality over quantity, mixing both current and classic styles. the range of goods includes furniture pieces, homeware, kitchenware, tableware, bath amenities, apparel pieces and footwear. currently on the shop's brand list are a string of coveted brands such as saint james, new balance, reigning champ, g.h. bass and soludos. location: 268 itaewon-ro [itaewon].

© platform

rome: diesel flagship store opening

© diesel

diesel has done some reshuffling in its retail network in rome, and the outcome resulted in the opening of a new flagship store in the heart of the city. situated at piazza di spagna, an iconic location visited by millions of tourists each year, the italian fashion brand occupies a highly prestigious retail space of 400 sqm. [4,306 sq.ft.] and no less than 11 windows that look out onto the historic square. given this top spot, the store interior has intentionally been luxed up, featuring luxurious materials, shiny finishes and a sophisticated lighting system. the central area of the store presents the diesel main line, in addition to accessories, watches, eyewear and fragrances, all amidst a setting of slatted wooden floors and concrete ceilings. the furniture is marked with natural black iron fittings, black lacquer and chrome details.

diesel being a leading name in denim, there obviously is a denim lounge with a particular focus on models of denim washes. also available is the brand's more exclusive diesel black gold collection. it's showcased in a sleeker setting with polished marble, mirrored walls and chunky modern furniture. in celebration of the store opening, diesel decided to pay homage to the eternal city with a special art installation. in collab with postmatter magazine, berlin-based artist andreas nicolas fischer created a digital installation of 65 led screens that cover the walls and ceiling of the store's entrance hall. showcased for the next three months, the immersive installation is continuously provided with topographic data from the city, resulting in ever-changing patterns on the screens. location: piazza di spagna 12 [tridente].

© diesel - store interior and screen shots of artist andreas nicolas fischer's digital installation

new york: boris bidjan saberi flagship store opening

© boris bidjan saberi / photography: wataru shimosato

although based in barcelona for quite some time now, german-iranian fashion designer boris bidjan saberi chose to open his first flagship store in new york city. occupying a unit of 2,100 sq.ft. [195 sqm.] on the ground floor of a six-storey building with a red brick façade, the store interior is understated and very much compatible with the boris bidjan saberi aesthetic, featuring brick walls dipped in pristine white and dark aged-wood flooring. all furnishings are custom-made and include industrial chain-link clothing racks, steel framework displays and a very sophisticated lighting system. the new flagship store carries the avant-garde brand's full range of men's and women's ready-to-wear collections, including coveted cult pieces such as the men's j1 oiled bock leather jacket for men and the body-molded open-seamwork horse leather jacket for women. co-hosted by stylezeitgeist magazine, the official opening party was held during the recent edition of new york fashion week and pulled a crowd of friends and fans of the fashion forward brand. location: 494 greenwich street [hudson square].

© boris bidjan saberi / photography: wataru shimosato

rotterdam: the future of fashion is now

© hussein chalayan / photography: nick knight - laser dress from the s/s 2008 readings collection

it has always been a volatile matter, but with the accelerated advancement of technology in recent years, creativity in fashion has been given a major boost. a new generation of savvy designers has emerged which has avidly adopted new possibilities to redefine the concept of fashion. opening sat - oct 11 at museum boijmans van beuningen in rotterdam is the future of fashion is now, an exhibition which explores the current fashion system and the role of apparel in today's society. very much aware that existing consumer demands are not sustainable, and new developments in technology and materials, many of today's designers adopt a new approach to what fashion can and should be. the future of fashion is now features futuristic designs - often straddling the realms of fashion and art - of over fifty emerging and established names in fashion from across the planet, including hussein chalayan, anrealage, comme des garçons, minä perhonen and sruli recht. an international team of fashion experts has commissioned six designers to create exclusive pieces for the exhibition. location: museumpark 18 [centrum].

© masayuki toshinaga - pyuupiru, mercury [2001] and jouke bos [top + bottom]

london: the alchemist bar opening

© the alchemist

a manchester institution migrates to london and gives the molecular mixology scene - yes, there is a scene - a run for its money. nestled in city banker central, the alchemist is a glittering gem twinkling with the alchemical instuments of yesteryear, super-flattering lighting and flickering black and white victorian footage in the background to complete the transportation. whilst it serves breakfast, lunch and all in between, the cocktail list is where all the funs at, perfect for a late night sip and supper. the team work furiously in the lab distilling aromatics and scented powders with bunsen burners and pipettes to create the most surprising drinks experiences possible. 

what arrives in your glass are unexpected flavours and delightful theatrics. a colour-changing cocktail comes in two conical flasks, pour in turn onto your ice ball as it changes colour in front of your eyes in a dramatic swirl of dry ice. the dead red zombie looks like a swirling cauldron of voodoo lava, you're almost too afraid to sip. a cola bottle libra tastes just like the sweet stuff but runs completely clear whilst the cereal killer is a spiked breakfast bowl served with a side of crunchy cereal loops. the bubble bath looks freshly scooped from the nearest tub. big sharers include the mad hatter's tea party served in a distiller with tea cups.

the fun is endless with bizarre components on every item...gingerbread syrup, white chocolate foam, frozen orchids, dried rose buds, metal powder, citric acid, raspberry dust, oak smoke and bergamot drops. hip flasks of premium spirits and a decent wine list accommodate the uninitiated. heaps of fun, an impressive place to take a hot date and everything on the menu is pretty affordable too – the alchemist is a top london pick. location: 6 beavis marks [city].

© the alchemist

paris: muji flagship store opening

© muji

forum des halles is a massive shopping complex in the heart of paris. it sits directly above the city's biggest public transportation hub which clusters seven subway lines and all five rer metropolitan train lines, and instantly became a leading shopping destination when it opened in 1979. over the years this expansive 40,000 sqm. [430,556 sq.ft.] complex of glass and steel became outdated but is currently seeing a major redevelopment to meet modern standards of shoppers and commuters alike. after launching a number of smaller outlets across town, it's here where japanese retailer muji has recently opened a european flagship store.

known for its well-designed and no-brand quality goods - mind you, that's the literal translation of its full name mujirushi ryohin - parisians have embraced muji like no other european city has, and its international reputation as a leading shopping destination also made it the ideal place to make such a major retail statement. the new muji flagship store occupies a spacious unit at forum des halles of 700 sqm. [7,535 sq.ft.] and features an interior by florian brillet, roberto murgia and gilles poirée - a collaborative trio of designers responsible for the interior of muji stores across france - that complies with the company's newest retail design aesthetic. upon entering the premises shoppers first encounter the muji kids department below a solid wooden structure that references old japanese tea houses.

within the area a colouring table and an embroidery machine to customise muji t-shirts with animal patterns are situated. the next section is dedicated to muji to go, a collection of travel products, and found muji - merci a selection made by french concept store merci of artisanal and other themed offerings. from there, a mosaic of metal sheets, cut tubes and grids in subtle shades of gray leads to muji basics, a segment with a vast range of classic basics which makes its european debut at the store. the contemporary retail setting is tied in by a polished concrete floor, alternated by segments in oak. location: forum des halles, place carrée [étienne marcel].

© muji

london: nigel cabourn - the army gym opening

© nigel cabourn

following two successful store openings in tokyo's naka meguro area, nigel cabourn shifts its focus to the homeland. it's in the heart of buzzing covent garden in london where the heritage brand has recently opened up shop. the store occupies two floors of a historic 18th-century building with a red brick façade. the interior is one that aims to emphasize the structure's origins, albeit in a modern way, with of exposed brick walls and sturdy wooden planking. vintage leather chairs are paired with faux vintage furnishings and selected props that blend well with the merchandise on offer. next to the full range of nigel cabourn men's + women's collections, the new store stocks selected items from compatible brands such as yuketen, merz b. schwanen, taylor & kent, c.c. filson and converse. location: 28 henrietta street [covent garden].

© nigel cabourn