milan: the forest

© valextra

for a luxury brand it never hurt to affiliate itself with top notch creativity, and valextra is no exception. a connection to any art and design discipline has not only proven to be mutually beneficial, but often creates added value in terms of a specific kind of exposure and brand awareness. the italian bag and leather accessories design brand already has a few collabs under its belt, and even pitches in its flagship store in milan's achingly chic duomo shopping district. following an in-store installation by new york city-based practice snarkitecture, the premises see a new transformation by lauded architect kengo kuma from tokyo. the installation, aptly called the forest, comprises of an infusion of wood and will be on display for the next couple of months. no less than 136 wooden slats have been inserted vertically, recreating an abstract environment that's firmly rooted in nature, showcasing valextra's coveted bag models along the way. location: valextra, via manzoni 3 [duomo].

© valextra

guangzhou: gentle monster store opening

© gentle monster

the opening of gentle monster stores in recent years hasn't exactly been modest, but ever since luxury conglomerate lvmh's private equity division bought a stake in the company, the korean eyewear brand has gone in full throttle expansion mode. the brand is particularly popular in countries axross the far east, and the vast chinese market is no exception. already operating four flagship stores there, in addition to a retail space in hong kong, a fifth outpost has just bowed in guangzhou. as the capital of china's top economic region, it's one of the country's few first-tier cities, and a presence here is a must for luxury brands. gentle monster picked two adjacent units at taikoo hui, a prestigious mall complex that's already home to a cluster of luxury boutiques.

similarly to other gentle monster flagship stores across the planet, the interior design of the new retail space is themed, and this time, cues have been taken from the realm of old folktales, and specifically zooms in on the purifying process in which spirits transcend into deities. the retail space is dotted with intricately constructed objects, some are moving or make sounds, but all look colourful and exotic, capturing the theme in a wild variety of materials and arresting forms. pristine white walls, ceiling and wall-mounted panelling form the neutral backdrop of these fantastical creations, while gentle monster's coveted merchandise is showcased on shelving attached to the aforementioned panelling. location: taikoo hui, 383 tianhe lu, shop mu02b + mu03a [tianhebei].

© gentle monster

paris: i want!

© diane arques

since the beginning of his career, jean-charles de castelbajac has been keen on promoting the manifesto of collabs through multiple partnerships with brands and other creative minds alike. the french fashion designer enjoys investing traditional territories incarnated by iconic houses such as j.m. weston or hermès in order to shake up history and reflect on modernity. de castelbajac calls this approach contemporary archeology, even going to the sources of the most popular and traditional products. opening today at galerie magda danysz in paris is i want!, the final chapter of an artistic triptych that was initiated back in 2009. that first show, held at paradise row in london, he combined logos with iconic canvases of art history, such as the édouard manet's le déjeuner sur l'herbe and louis vuitton, la grande odalisque of jean-auguste-dominique ingres and gucci, eugène delacroix's la liberté guidant le peuple and nike. the following showcase, held a year later, saw him abyssing artists such as botticelli and walt disney, and creating a new hybrid aesthetic along the way. and now, de castelbajac closes the series by exploring the hegemony of this new collaborative empire, its contradictions, its emptiness, and its fleeting splendour, and on the other hand, arises as curator of desynchronized collabs spawned by the meeting of artists, different eras and styles, through his various canvases [on through mar 17]. location: 78 rue amelot [marais].

© diane arques

berlin: dior store opening

© dior / photography: aldo sperber

although mitte and tiergarten epitomize what's hot and cool in berlin, and thus are widely seen as the city's most happening neighbourhoods, luxury brands prefer the more gilded grounds of charlottenburg. it's on kurfürstendamm, an iconic thoroughfare lined with ornately designed historic buildings, where an increasing number of brands from fashion's top echelon have opened up shop in recent years, and the latest arrival on the block is dior. the paris-based fashion house has had a presence in the german capital for quite some time with a shop-in-shop at department store kadewe, but has now opened a standalone boutique, its fourth in germany. the interior design takes cues from the the dior flagship store on avenue montaigne in the french capital, but with modern twists, resulting in unique and obviously plush settings.

the store features a monochrome palette, and is dotted with furnishings made from recycled materials by designer stefan leo, and pastel-coloured paintings of artist jan kaláb adorn the walls. additionally, the design also includes a subtle hommage to the fashion house's founder christian dior [1905-1957] as the floor in the women's section is covered with versailles parquet flooring, a nod to his personal passion for the 18th century. the new dior store carries women's ready-to-wear, bags, shoes, but also has an area dedicated exclusively to its dior homme line. anticipating the high volume of celebrities and big spenders that visit the german capital, the store also features a  v.i.p. room on the premises. location: kurfürstendamm 56-57 [charlottenburg].

© dior / photography: aldo sperber

tokyo: teätora store opening

© teätora / photography: tomooh nozawa

a strong sense of quality and aesthetic is innate to japanese culture, and as with most things coming from the land of the rising sun, even workwear looks pretty good. in fact, it's being used as an inspiration far and beyond. however, the style is being appreaciated on home turf as well, and fashion brand teätora's menswear designs are widely seen as a modern take on classic garments from this specific apparel category. the brand's apparel pieces, created by designer daisuke kamide, are meticulously engineered to provide ultimate comfort and an increased level of functionality. unsurprisiingly, kamide targets a demographic of creative professionals with his clothing, and managed to create a fanbase both home and abroad. in a bold move to further raise the company's profile, he has opened the very first teätora flagship store in tokyo's inner city neighbourhood of sendagaya.

the store is situated on the lofty ground floor of a six-storey structure built in the early 1960s, and is a stone's throw away from the massive national stadium that's currently under construction. the interior design is an extrapolation from teätora's core values, featuring a no-frills aesthetic that's framed by whitewashed walls and ceiling, and a floor of polished concrete. furnishings are sparse, comprising mostly of black steel clothing racks and rows of suspended tubular lights that heighten the industrial feel of the space. the new teätora flagship store carries the brand's full range of apparel, in addition to newly developed pieces and tweaked designs from its archive. but that's not all, folks. the premises will also host events and presentations with other brands, and a pop-up store of osaka-based silver and gold label is the first of many to come. location: 2nd watanabe building, 2-13-4 jingumae, ground floor [sendagaya].

© teätora / photography: tomooh nozawa

rio de janeiro: zanini de zanine – design experimental

© museu de arte moderna

born with an artistic pedigree – mind you, he's the son of brazilian architect, furniture designer, and sculptor josé zanine caldas – designer zanini de zanine [1978] has made a name for himself both home and abroad with a varied range of furniture pieces. the designer developed a contemporary style which not only reflects experimentation and research, but one that also hinges on both art and design. in a current retrospective at museu de arte moderna in rio de janeiro, entitled zanini de zanine – design experimental and curated by tulio mariante, forty of zanini's designs from the past fifteen years are put on display, including three unseen furniture pieces that'll be added to the venue's permanent collection: poltrona marmo, poltrona meka and banco v. the latter to remain in the permanent collection of the museum [on through feb 18]. location: museu de arte moderna, avenida infante dom henrique 85 [glória].

© museu de arte moderna

tokyo: tsutaya book apartment opening

© tsutaya

managing a sizeable network of bookstores and video rental shops nationwide for over three decades, tsutaya has become a household name in japan. as the average home, and thus private space, is often limited, the japanese venture out relatively often to meet up with friends or to have some quality down time. tsutaya has playfully experimented with its retail formats in the past, redefining the bookstore as a social meeting place, and those familiar with the company's flagship outpost in tokyo's leafy roppongi area – one of the first to feature an in-house starbucks counter – know exactly what we mean. eager to please its savvy client base in the japanese capital, tsutaya continues to innovate and has recently raised the bar with the tsutaya book apartment in bustling shinjuku, a neighbourhood with high volumes of foot traffic.

concepted as a so-called common living space, it's a venue with an expanded social meeting purpose, and as such, it's open 24-hours a day. the hybrid concept effortlessly combines retail and hospitality, and is situated across three floors of a modern mid-rise builing with an expansive glass façade. as said, tsutaya book apartment offers a unique experience and does so by way of a set of relaxation-focused facilities. situated on the fourth floor – right on top of another starbucks coffee parlour, and you're allowed to take your freshly made order upstairs – is a co-working space with plenty of desks, imac computers and ipads, and of course, plenty of books and magazines. one floor up, the first common space unfolds, intended for a mixed crowd of male and female patrons.

offering regular seats, it also features 32 private booths, and next to lavatories, shower rooms are available to start the day afresh. the aesthetic is dominated by wood while suspended potted plants lend it a subtle feel of the outdoors. the sixth floor is exclusively available to women only, and also features regular seating and private booths, in addition to a shared area equipped with tatami mats for soothing naps, restrooms, and a full-fledged makeup room. with all that relaxation readily available 24/7, you may be in need of a little banter from time to time. well, the sake bar will do the trick. it's tucked away in the building's basement section, featuring a stylish setting with, yes indeed, plenty of books, that make downing japan's prized national drink an even more cultured experience. location: shinjuku minimu building II, 3-26-14 shinjuku [shinjuku].

© tsutaya