tokyo: like a flight of starlings

© db – adagp, paris + jaspar, tokyo [2018] g1226

although everyday is showtime at ginza six, the multi-storey luxury mall in the heart of ginza pulls out all the stops to commemorate its first anniversary, and it's done by way of art. since the opening in spring of last year – mind you, we talked about the event in a previous post – it has been yayoi kusama's dotted mushrooms which adorned the venue's imposing atrium space. indeed, art is seen as added value here, and that's where fumio nanjo gets into the picture. as the director of mori art museum, one of tokyo's top venues for contemporary art, he supervises ginza six's rotating art programme, and he has now picked daniel buren to step into the spotlight here. the lauded french artist has been commissioned to create an installation for the atrium space, but also made matching artworks that adorn the façade above the mall entrances and an additional 90 banners that hang on lampposts along the street. the suspended installation, called like a flight of starlings, is inspired by the artist's seeing a flock of this bird species flying away, and comprises of no less than 1,675 triangular flags with a red stripe and a blue stripe pattern attached to a metal frame that's suspended diagonally between the second and fifth floors. as such, it offers a different view from each floor and angle [on through oct 31]. location: ginza six, 6-10-1 ginza [ginza].

© db – adagp, paris + jaspar, tokyo [2018] g1226

seoul: projekt produkt store opening

© projekt produkt

you may not heard of it yet, but there's another korean eyewear brand that's going places, and creating a distinct retail environment is part of the strategy to raise its profile. we're talking projekt produkt, a brand launched only in 2014 by lee hyun-ho. originally trained as an optician, lee also  supervises the fashion-forward eyewear design, but also seeks collabs with leading designers to put the projekt produkt name more in the global limelight. as said, the company has now ventured into the retail arena for the very first time, opening a flagship store in one of the most coveted shopping grounds of seoul, its homebase.

tucked away in the maze of alleyways of the tony neighbourhood of sinsa-dong, the store occupies the lofty ground floor and a mezzanine level of an angular gray concrete building. for the interior design, lee pulled out all the stops, and tapped malmö-based korean product designer kunsik choi to come up with a fitting aesthetic that would reflect the brand's modern outlook. with plenty of room available, the projekt produkt flagship features three distinct sections, each with an identity of its own and presenting a different segment of the elaborate collection. upon entering the store, a setting unfolds that's framed by brick pillars, polished concrete flooring, and an exposed ceiling of the same material.

the ground floor features a lrage number of the furniture and objects that have been specifically designed, including sleek benches and floor lamps, displays that mimick stacks of paper sheets, and elegant cabinets crafted from wood and glass. upstairs on the mezzanine floor, shoppers first come across a somewhat homey section with backlit shelving, benches placed on a colourful carpet, and a chest of drawers. right around the corner it all shifts right back to understatement, presenting striking floor lamps with halo ring lights and matching displays in a gallery-like setting. the new projekt produkt flagship store carries the brand's full range of sunglasses and frames. location: 17 nonhyeon-ro 153 gil [sinsa-dong].

© projekt produkt

bangkok: made in summer

© the mall group

in sprawling southeast asian cities such as bangkok, shopping malls are simply a way of life, and given the abundance of choice, there's a keen interest in keeping shoppers happy. the mall group, of thailand's leading retail companies, manages a handful of prestigious complexes across the city and beyond, and to celebrate the upcoming summer season, it has launched the aptly named made in summer campaign at three different department stores in town. fully compatible with the digital-infused and snap happy lifestyle of its target demographic, the mall, siam paragon and emporium will all feature interactive installations, designed by local practice bug studio, that'll engage shoppers by way of cutting-edge design and technology.

at the mall [1] everyone gets a second chance at becoming a kid once again and play to their heart’s content at crazy maze, a gigantic mirrored maze inside the stomach of a huge shark with three rooms that feature countless reflections of different, colourful motifs from yellow rubber ducks and pink flamingos, to fantasy mascots. the installation transforms the idea of playing at summer camp into a real world’s instagrammer’s playground. the showcase at siam paragon [2] provides shoppers a night-out at summer club in the middle of a summer day at wtf [what-the-forest!] club. recreating a tropical party experience in the heart of the city, the wtf club is the only place you can indulge in ar clubbing  getting all high like an all-night party animal – all through innovative technology, featuring cool space design, decors, music and sets by some of bangkok's top dj's.

a more stylish installation can be found at the emporium mall [3]. reinterpreting summer as a time that one focuses fully on oneself, it blends art, innovation, cutting-edge technology and good story-telling into a whole new museum where each visitor becomes exhibited art piece. showcasing ever-evolving art with each visitor being transformed into the subject of the featured pieces, the so-called museum of me takes art experience and customisation to a whole new level through interactive virtual technology [on through apr 18]. location [1]: 3522 thanon ladprao [bangkapi]. location [2]: 991 thanon rama I [siam]. location [3]: 622 thanon sukhumvit [sukhumvit].

© the mall group

paris: la pâtisserie du meurice opening

© ciguë / photography: pierre monetta

in france, food and drink has long been an almost sacred domain, and a strong national pride adheres to many of its traditional products, preparations and even recipes. it's within this elevated context that, often also protected by french law, refinement in gastronomy remains on a high level. but frankly, the circumstances also create a demand, specifically in a city as utterly sophisticated as paris. established in 1835 as the french capital's first palace hotelle meurice has since been one of the most prestigious addresses in town where to lay down one's head. and t's right here, under the arcades running along rue de castiglione to be precise, that pastry chef cédric grolet has opened his very first pâtisserie. simply called la pâtisserie du meurice, the lauded craftsman aims to share his exquisite concoctions with a wider clientele than just guests of the illustrious hotel. 

the space is designed by french architecture practice ciguë, and features an interior design that follows customs and traditions, albeit in a contemporary way, bringing the back of the house to the storefront. upon entering the premises, the eyecatcher is immediately within sight: an elongated counter made from enamelled lava stone that unfolds in full the intricate creation process of the pastry making. the back wall, fully clad in brushed brass, is made up of a grid of shelving with a collection of ingredients in large jars, built-in ovens and a sliding door to a back space. the understatement extends to all details, but allows for modest yet beautiful variations. a series of hand-blown, pedestalled glass domes single-handedly display the finished trophies behind the window, while a row of sleek protruding light fixtures balance out the erratic pattern of the stone flooring. location: le meurice, 6 rue de castiglione [st.-honoré].

© ciguë / photography: maris mezulis

superchat amsterdam: jolle van der mast + daniel archutowski

© unrecorded. / the co-founders strolling around the premises of a factory in portugal

when two minds think alike, great things can happen, and such is the case with jolle van der mast [jm] and daniel archutowski [da]. the founders of amsterdam-based men’s label unrecorded. crossed paths while searching for a new venture that would indulge not only their desire to establish a sustainable apparel brand, but also one that would offer the timeless designs they could wear themselves as both discerning shoppers and eco-conscious consumers. while it has been a fairly easy ride for archutowski, being a designer with a professional background that easily adapts to the realm of fashion, it has been a complete u-turn for van der mast, who strayed away from a corporate job in one of the planet’s most polluting industries to pursue a more fulfilling career in fashion and retail. superfuture sat down with the fashion entrepreneurs to chat about their newly established brand, careers moves, idealism, style, and what’s next.

how did you guys get together? could you elaborate how you found each other for this venture? [jm] well, we didn’t start out as old friends, but met each other later in life. i grew up in london and moved back to the netherlands when I was a teen. i studied technical business sciences up north in the provincial town of groningen, and soon after started working in the oil industry. eventually, i wanted to flex my entrepreneurial skills and became general manager at a company that manufactures so-called flexible intermediate bulk containers. you know, those large-sized plastic bags filled with sand and gravel that you’ll come across whenever passing roadworks. interestingly, the company’s factory where those products are made, is a textile factory, and it turned out that many of its staff used to work for marks & spencer. 
actually, the idea to venture into what I’m doing now started right there. i wanted to make a difference in an industry that needed change, and it so happens that the general production of clothing is in a pretty dire state. i’ve been engaged with sustainability from an early age, and being an avid surfer, i’ve always felt this connection with nature. so, while researching the clothing industry, a number of digital vertical apparel brands caught my eye. these companies skip the wholesale business, offering merchandise directly serve customers. it was during this phase that i met daniel through a mutual contact, and my focus on sustainability increased even more since he already had dipped his toe in the industry and had run a sustainable brand himself. within six weeks after we met, we founded our company! 
[da] the whole business concept instantly appealed to me. i’ve worked for quite some time in the apparel industry, and there are so many brands. so, you really have to add something to stand out. as for a line basics, it’s obviously already out there, plentiful even, but done in a sustainable manner and dealing directly with customers, that’s still happening on a very small scale. i was actually waiting for an opportunity to engage into a business that would uphold these principles, and it happened to be unrecorded., a venture i set up with jolle. we had endless conversations about the brand and what it would stand for, and the more we chatted, the more stoked i became. 
an important element of your brand is sustainability. how did the process evolve finding the right manufacturers and materials? [da] before doing this, i managed with two other partners accessories brand ikku. we created items for apple products, but made a tad more stylishly and from sustainable materials. it was during that period that i got in touch with manufacturers for the very first time and i immediately noticed that it was fairly difficult to have sustainable fabrics made, also because of the limited amount of fabric we’d be taking. but we saw it as a challenge to overcome this hurdle.
[jm] the so-called gots-certified organic cotton that we use is subject to strict rules and regulations, and as such, factories really have had to adapt, meaning that entire sections had to be sealed off to avoid the organic cotton being contaminated by other cotton. it takes rather drastic logistic measures to set up an organic cotton production line. back in 2007 the demand for organic cotton first emerged, but waned soon after. after initially holding back, the textile industry is embracing it again, as it’s now a trends that seems to persist. [da] we’ve been able to largely circumvent the problem regarding the purchase of limited batches of fabric because of engaging in a dialogue with the owners, visiting them on a regular basis, explaining our goals and the trajectory we’d like to follow. obviously, there needs to be a click on a personal level as well to achieve this. 
the unrecorded. collection comprises of basic pieces for daily use. how do you see the collection evolve in the future? [da] although we  started out with just tees and sweat shirts, but wanted to avoid being merely seen as a brand specialized in these garments, also because we aimed to open a shop. and yet, being a brand focusing on basic garments, we wanted to expand and diversify the offerings. We have a target audience in mind and envision beforehand which product to release next, also in terms of compatibility with existing items, and which colours to apply. our gradual release of products makes more aware of how we’re perceived as a brand, simply because of the fact that a single product will determine our brand image instead of an entire collection. hence, also the delayed introduction of primary colours. we wanted to tell our story as a brand first, before adding another element to our narrative. ideally, we’d like to reach uniqlo’s merchandise level which features specific basic garments in a range of colours, but all of high quality and at an affordable price point. the addition of colour is a logical next step to tell our story.
could you elaborate on your customer profile? [jm] daniel and i have obviously drafted a short list, and it’s quite diverse, including anyone between a supreme-obsessed teen and an octogenarian architect. in any case, i think our products have an urban quality that’ll appeal to a culturally diverse consumer group. actually, it’s because we think that our clientele is so diverse that we haven’t adopted a logo for our brand. our product range easily fits in the lifestyle of many people as items can be worn in many ways, fitting almost any look. [da] our store may look clean and understated, but then again, the sales associate who you just met also adds something to the picture, as do the chunky vintage sneakers we’ve just put on display. we try not to exclude certain people, but reach out to a wide range of customers. however, i do think all of our customers share having an eye for quality and detail.  
we're curious to know what your definition of good design is? [da] to me personally, it’s all about functionality and timelessness. [jm] a cliché perhaps, but simplicity and sustainability are key to me. do you know dieter rams' ten principles for good design? they’re all spot on. [da] jolle and i basically have the same view on things, but sometimes i simply go with a strong gut feeling for something to be right.
who does what within your business operations? [da] as a small company we’re still in this phase which sees a quite an overlap in activities, but I expect things to eventually shift towards a clearer division of tasks based on each other’s preference or compatibility. we as partners both have ideas about each other’s expertise and topics, but we’re continuously in a dialogue to balance everything. eventually, we’ll have to allocate ourselves specific tasks.
any plans for the future that you can reveal? what’s your next step? [jm] obviously, we'd like to further expand our collection. but also, we’re already pondering on expansion abroad, but it wouldn’t be on a franchise basis. we very much like to remain in control of things. antwerp and berlin are actually the first cities we’re considering to set up shop next. culturally, these they're are quite similar to amsterdam, as opposed to, say, paris. both cities feature a strong urban and creative feel, and thus are very suitable for us.

© unrecorded. / daniel archutowski [left] and jolle van der mast [right]

tokyo: rag & bone store renewal

© rag & bone

the rag & bone flagship store in tokyo first opened in 2018 and was the brand's first outpost overseas. and now, eight years on, a full revamp has given the store a new look and functionality that lives up to the laid-back lifestyle of its clients. previously a private residence, the store's basement section has seen the most dramatic transformation as it has become a café that's run in collab with verve coffee roasters from the coastal town of santa cruz in california. the coffee parlour is set up as a destination in its own right, and as such, it has its very own entrance and opening hours. designed by fashion stylist yohei usami, the setting is inspired by 1950s modernist architecture and features a service station on one side and an elongated sofa and vintage scandinavian chairs directly opposite. 

a selection of framed photographs by american indie filmmaker ben safdie adorn the walls. the menu obviously lists coffee concoctions, all freshly made with a kees van der westen coffee machine, in addition to waffles with different toppings, and for a limited time only, rag & bone memorabilia that commemorate the café opening. as for the boutique, the aesthetic is defined a certain understatement, captured by wooden flooring, tv screens, suspended mannequins, simple displays and fixtures, and last but not least, colourful wall decorations by japanese graffiti artist suiko. the men's section on the third floor even features a custom-made record player and amplifier that adds to the store's newly acquired lifestyle vibe. the renewed rag & bone flagship store carries the brand's full range of men's and women's apparel, accessories and shoes. location: 5-12-3 jingumae [harajuku].

© rag & bone