Luxury footwear brand Manolo Blahnik has opened two new retail spaces in Japan with a third site planned for 2017. Designed by London architect Nick Leith-Smith, the first two locations opened in August in Matsuya Ginza department store, in Tokyo and in Umeda Hankyu department store, in Osaka, in partnership with local luxury specialist Bluebell Group.
The space is contextualised in deference to Japanese mastery for interpreting traditional cultural forms in exciting new ways.
The focal element is an impressive installation, typical of timber and bamboo scaffold structures but realised in crisscrossed folded wooden slats. Interlacing, they connect walls and ceilings, supporting shelves and acting as hangers. 'It is at first sight both primitive yet considered; functionally dynamic and playful much like the brand itself,' says Leith-Smith.
Cleverly fusing the industrial with the ornate, opposing walls are cast concrete reliefs with an undulating curve pattern inspired by the gingko leaf. Dramatic contrast comes in a back wall in a painterly blue, inspired by traditional Japanese indigo plant dye.
The shoes cascade out across marble in-laid shelves supported by the wooden sculpture.
Marble flooring and pared back brass and glass display cabinets give a contemplative feel - 'a space to reflect, shop and appreciate the artistry of the shoes'.
Manolo Blahnik will also open a new store in Singapore in 2017.