by Sunena V MajuDec 15, 2022
The Korean perception of nature is rather interesting, often seen in the omnipresence of gardens in Seoul, within palaces, private houses, and temples. For Van Cleef & Arpels' new store in Seoul, South Korea, Paris-based Studio Jouin Manku borrowed inspiration from this cultural trait of the country. Marking 16 years of collaboration with the French luxury jewellery brand, Sanjit Manku and Patrick Jouin present the new store as a space, creating an opportunity, sharing in the world's fascination with jewellery design. Narrating nature, the forest and its enchantment as the essence of Van Cleef & Arpels Maison, the architect shares, "The mountain is the highest point at the intersection of sky and ground, a place of serenity, rich in endemic vegetation, unique and prodigious, and charged with spirituality,” and also the soul of this concept.
Reflecting on the rich diversity of the metropolis—where skyscrapers, modern developments and a vibrant entertainment culture sync with traditional Buddhist temples, historic palaces and street life—the Van Cleef & Arpels store expresses links between the east and the west. Bridging the richness of Korean culture with the French brand’s craftsmanship and heritage, the retail design borrows from contextual influences and realises them through contemporary architecture. "No question of bringing in ideas of style, but rather of teasing out a sophisticated blend, inextricably combining commerce and culture, contemporary and craftsmanship. Jouin Manku has put its vision of European and occidental architecture to the test by endeavouring to embrace Korean ideas, reflecting the country’s vast cultural wealth in the project. Advocating the spirit of opening up to the world in order to find our natural place in a new ecosystem," state the Parisian design studio.
Across the five levels of the buildings, the designers have incorporated the concept of a garden into the indoors, thereby creating multiple intriguing landscape interventions in the interior design. Blurring lines between indoors and outdoors, house and garden, and culture and commerce, the landscape design evolves in the interiors, giving birth to multiple functional spaces that are passively separated by garden features.
For designing the landscape, Studio Jouin Manku employed YoungSun Jung's team of landscape designers at South Korea-based SeoAhn Total Landscape (STL). The firm has an experience of designing landscapes and gardens in Korea, and with their knowledge of the Korean environment and its endemic species managed to recreate the environment of a typical Korean mountain, inside the Seoul store of Van Cleef & Arpels. On each floor, the landscape design adorns a different identity—varying from planters, rock clusters, and terrace gardens.
"The vegetation invites itself into the building, it does not decorate it, it is the landscape on every floor, from the façade to the roof. The visitor wanders through the building as if on a pathway, which they follow to admire the jewels that appear to be suspended, integrated into this nature,” adds Studio Jouin Manku.
Additionally, the jewellery displays adopt an interesting form, appearing to be an abstract of trees. With a trunk-like pedestal that concludes on a glass bell jar, the design of the jewellery display platforms extends to many analogies. Reminiscent of the rose from the Beauty and the Beast, here the jewellery becomes the precious rose.
Furthermore, the influence of Korean architecture and culture can also be witnessed in the material palette of the store. The walls have been covered in Hanji, an ancestral Korean craft. Talking about their vision behind working with the unique craft, the designers share, “Thanks to the numerous characteristics with which it is endowed, Hanji has had, and still has today, a multitude of uses, from the most ordinary to the most surprising, such as its longevity–of about one thousand years against two hundred years for our European paper–and its exceptional solidity. Filtering the light, which it sifts, and letting the air circulate, the 'paper that breathes' was for a long time a central element of the Korean interior.”
Another unique feature of the design is the detailed glass facade. Combining tradition and modernity, the facade design adorns a diamond pattern, realised using celadon, the traditional Korean ceramic and cast aluminium. “This combination of celadon and aluminium envelops the building, which encloses the gardens and the interior spaces, but it’s also something that prevents you from feeling like you are in a fishbowl, because of the floor to ceiling glass," share Sanjit Manku and Patrick Jouin of Studio Jouin Manku. The facade is composed of 207 intersecting elements and synced by 3900 unique pieces of Yeoju celadon ceramic, 3900 aluminium pieces, and 120 light sources.
They further add, "This project offered us the opportunity to imagine a whole new building, a structure that would establish Van Cleef & Arpels as a prominent feature in the Seoul landscape. Over five levels, we have designed a dreamlike natural decor with spaces suited to hosting artistic functions—exhibitions and conferences—along with an itinerary in which lively spaces alternate with intimate islands of tranquillity.”
Mentioning the brand’s presence in Seoul with the new house, Nicolas Bos, President and CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels said, “With the creation of this new Maison, we are celebrating ever stronger bonds with this country, known for a long tradition of craftsmanship, that echoes the values espoused by Van Cleef & Arpels. Indeed, the boutique was designed to form a union between the French jewellery tradition and Korean cultural heritage, and to nurture this dialogue for years to come.”
Name: Van Cleef & Arpels La Maison Seoul
Location: 441, Apgujeong-ro, Gangnam-gu Seoul, South Korea
Design: Studio Jouin Manku
Design Team: Patrick Jouin, Sanjit Manku Jacques Goubin, Yann Brossier, Olivier Evrard, Dorien Peters, Julien Lizé
Studio Location: Paris, France
Executive architect: DPJ & Partners - David Pierre Jalicon - Seoul, South Korea
Lighting Designer: Voyons Voir - Stéphane Carratero - Paris, France
Landscape Designer: STL - Seo-Ahn Total Landscape - YoungSun JUNG - Soojeong KIM - Seoul, South Korea
General architectural contractor facade: JLCOM
Celadon Ceramic for Facade: Maison Objet
General Interior Design Company and Stair: JOIN
Furniture: Studio Jouin Manku (bespoke design) and Studio Patrick Jouin iD (Ester collection for Pedrali / Manda and Vendôme collection for Starset)