by Sunena V MajuDec 15, 2022
Proving a synergy between Dolce & Gabbana’s inimitable brand identity and the signature style of Jean Nouvel, the current flagship store of the luxury fashion brand at Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam district, Seoul, is a statement unto itself. This collaboration between not just these significant names, but design and aesthetical sensibilities, goes as long back as 2009, wherein Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana had already collaborated with Jean Nouvel on an exhibition at the Palazzo della Ragione in Milan. Their latest collaboration yields a luxuriant yet partly minimal edifice of commercial architecture on the main luxury street of Seoul, seeking to revamp the district’s profile itself, and serving as an “architectural ode to the encounter between love for tradition and ceaseless innovation”.
The building’s distinct design has a striking, complementary duality between material and form. The exterior of the building can in summation be quoted to be a play between its definitive cylindrical and cuboidal volumes, aided by its elaborate use of contrasting materials between glass, a signifier of transparency, and black granite, a signifier of hardness and opacity. The primary functional spaces of the store’s display are thus planned and designed to be ensconced in a cylinder of extra clear glass, bound between four cuboidal black granite volumes doubling up as ‘pillars’ for the structure. Located at the corner of a significant street intersection, the store is said to offer the ‘city’ a view of the D&G collections preserved within, like a museum, through a convex glass façade opening on two sides.
The interiors of the store too, carried out by Jean Nouvel Design, are done up in consonance with the exteriors’ restricted material palette, and as a response to the distinct cylindrical form. Minimalist in tone yet adding to the grandiosity of the store, the outlet is dominated by the use of black in numerous shades and finishes across materials: glossy black in glass, grey in concrete, and a hybrid matte black in anodised aluminium. The overall sophisitication of the environment is added on to by the nuance of mango wood used for the store’s timber requirements and woodwork.
The boutique’s interior design develops along a large spiral ramp, clad in mosaic Nero Marquina marble, seamlessly connecting through all four floors of the building. This “vortex” like arrangement at the centre guides the visitor upwards to discover the iconic Dolce & Gabbana collections, enhancing in ascending order from floor to floor, accompanied by an intuitive, high end lighting system design. The store’s display, that extends from the concentric spaces around the spiral to the ramp, is characterised by a succession of modular elements and fixtures, to which shelves and rods can be affixed at different heights, lending a layer of dynamism to the store’s display that can be ever changing. The corners enclosed inside the black granite volumes offer additional spaces for either display or intimate dressing areas.
The terrace of the establishment is treated as an extension of the experience that the store envisions to provide with an exclusive lounge. Designed with a strong contemporary outlook in all black, the recreational space is surmounted by a large semi-circular canopy that the architects cite and treat as an ideal termination of the spiral ramp springing through the centre of the store. Adorned with black upholstery, lined with black metal seats along a black granite bar, the space matches the upmarket brand brief, and provides for a spot of conviviality.
Name: Dolce&Gabbana, Seoul
Location: Cheongdam Street, Seoul, South Korea
Completion: February 2021
Program: Independent building including a basement, 4 sales storeys for the brand’s clothing, accessories, jewelry collection, and a rooftop terrace with martini bar for events
Architects: Ateliers Jean Nouvel
Interior Design: Jean Nouvel Design
Usable Floor Area: 911 sq.m.
Gross Floor Area: 835 sq.m.