Louis Vuitton opens new flagship store in Osaka, inspired by sailing vessels

Architect Jun Aoki and interior designer Peter Marino design the Louis Vuitton Maison Osaka Midosuji with an innovative façade that resembles a traditional Japanese cargo ship.

by Meghna Mehta Published on : Feb 07, 2020

Since the late 19th century, Louis Vuitton has sought inspirations from Japan. From the ‘mon’ - family crest - inspiration of the Monogram canvas, to many renowned Japanese users such as political leaders Goto Shojiro and Taisuke Itagaki, the house has always maintained strong ties with Japan, its people and its culture.

The opening of the first Louis Vuitton store on Japanese soil in 1978 in the Tokyo district of Kioicho allowed the monogram to permeate the collective conscience of local artistic minds. From the very foundation of the organisation, the connection between Louis Vuitton and Japan has been driven by a common fascination – two worlds capable of combining a respect for tradition with a strong desire for modernity.

The Louis Vuitton’s Osaka store takes inspiration from the sea-faring city | Louis Vuitton Osaka | Jun Aoki | Peter Marino| STIRworld
The Louis Vuitton’s Osaka store takes inspiration from the sea-faring city Image Credit: Courtesy of Louis Vuitton

Continuing this strong collaboration, Louis Vuitton opened its store Louis Vuitton Maison Osaka Midosuji in Osaka, Japan, on February 1, 2020. The store is an imaginative result of a close collaboration between architects Jun Aoki and Peter Marino, who both share a long-standing relationship with the French fashion house. The new four-floor store reflects Osaka’s heritage as Japan’s most important port and highlights the city’s growing role as an international travel hub.

The façade resembles a floating ship | Louis Vuitton Osaka | Jun Aoki | Peter Marino| STIRworld
The façade resembles a floating ship Image Credit: Courtesy of Louis Vuitton

Architect Jun Aoki has worked on a number of landmark Louis Vuitton stores in Japan and around the world, and also designed the Louis Vuitton New York’s Fifth Avenue Maison. The design of the building drew on Osaka’s history as a sea-faring city, where Aoki imagined a light and airy white structure inspired by the traditional Higaki-Kaisen cargo ship and its billowing sails. The purity of the façade has further been reinforced by the use of metal fretwork motifs at ground level, giving the impression of a ship floating on water. The design of the façade allows for optimal use of natural light by illuminating the different levels. The store attempts to breathe the city’s energy, while offering clients a sense of calm and respite.

The structure and its layered exterior designed by Jun Aoki is influenced by Japanese craftsmanship and a sailing ship | Louis Vuitton Osaka | Jun Aoki | Peter Marino| STIRworld
The structure and its layered exterior designed by Jun Aoki is influenced by Japanese craftsmanship and a sailing ship Image Credit: Courtesy of Louis Vuitton

As a juxtaposition to the architecture of the Maison, itself a poetic homage to the minimalism of Japanese craftsmanship, windows designed in collaboration with artist Kenta Cobayashi bring a celebration of swirling, lucid colours to the building and its vicinity. A photographer himself, he has designed liquid crystal distortions modelled into a bespoke sculpture that ribbons across the store’s windows. These windows almost blur the lines between digital fantasy and reality, a speciality of Cobayashi’s imagery, that further acknowledges Japan as a hub of technology.

In the interiors, architect Peter Marino has followed similar inspirations, connecting the store’s four floors to both the maritime feel of the building and to its connection with Japanese traditional culture. In spaces dedicated to a complete offering of the different universes and collections, wooden floors give the impression of decks, with wood-clad pillars and metal ceilings reminiscent of the spirit of a grand yacht embarking on an exciting adventure.

  • Artwork by Polly Apfelbaum displayed in the interior space | Louis Vuitton Osaka | Jun Aoki | Peter Marino| STIRworld
    Artwork by Polly Apfelbaum displayed in the interior space Image Credit: Courtesy of Louis Vuitton
  • Traditional Japanese materials used in the interior space | Louis Vuitton Osaka | Jun Aoki | Peter Marino| STIRworld
    Traditional Japanese materials used in the interior space Image Credit: Courtesy of Louis Vuitton

Traditional Japanese materials such as woodwork and origami washi paper feature throughout the interior spaces. The vast areas have been designed to create varying volumes, from spectacular halls to more intimate corners and lounges. The ground floor is dedicated to women’s accessories, while the mezzanine floor houses luggage and the Art of Travel. A complete offering of women’s ready-to-wear and accessories by Nicolas Ghesquière, Louis Vuitton’s artistic director of women’s collections, occupies the third floor, while the fourth floor is home to Louis Vuitton men’s artistic director Virgil Abloh’s complete offering.

Artwork by Vik Muniz displayed in the interiors | Louis Vuitton Osaka | Jun Aoki | Peter Marino | STIRworld
Artwork by Vik Muniz displayed in the interiors Image Credit: Courtesy of Louis Vuitton

Throughout the Maison, Louis Vuitton Objets Nomades collection of designer travel and home related objects bring colourful creativity to the forefront. On permanent offer, they are placed to emphasise or contrast with the architecture, hanging down from the generous heights of the store’s floor.

Contemporary furniture and art pieces on display | Louis Vuitton Osaka | Jun Aoki | Peter Marino| STIRworld
Contemporary furniture and art pieces on display Image Credit: Courtesy of Louis Vuitton

Historical Louis Vuitton archival objects and unparalleled artisanal savoir-faire provides clients with an entirely unique private shopping experience surrounded by works of art. In a silent discussion between the past and the present, the original Louis Vuitton trunks sit alongside nearly 20 contemporary artworks selected or commissioned by Peter Marino. Offering a counterpoint to the cool lines of the building, artworks by Vik Muniz, Polly Apfelbaum, Kimiko Fujimura, Nicola de Maria, and Ida Tursic & Wilfried Mille present abstract bursts of colour or depict natural landscapes throughout the four floors. A unique work by Gregor Hildebrandt Osaka Schwimmbad (Anne) , composed of cut vinyl records, wood, canvas and acrylic reflects Osaka’s relationship with its cherished bay.

Interiors displaying artwork of Gregor Hildebrandt named Osaka Schwimmbad (Anne) | Louis Vuitton Osaka | Jun Aoki | Peter Marino| STIRworld
Interiors displaying artwork of Gregor Hildebrandt named Osaka Schwimmbad (Anne) Image Credit: Courtesy of Louis Vuitton

The new store also saw the opening of the very first Louis Vuitton café in collaboration with chef Yosuke Suga. Le Café V sits atop the store building, which also hides the entrance to Suga’s exclusive restaurant housed within the Maison.

Restaurant in collaboration with chef Yosuke Suga atop the building of the store | Louis Vuitton Osaka | Jun Aoki | Peter Marino| STIRworld
Restaurant in collaboration with chef Yosuke Suga atop the building of the store Image Credit: Courtesy of Louis Vuitton

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About Author

Meghna Mehta

Meghna Mehta

An architect by education and a journalist by passion, Mehta pursued a crossroad between her two interests. Having completed an M.Arch from CEPT University in Ahmedabad, she has worked in the field of architectural journalism for over 5 years. Besides content generation for STIR, she continues to teach in architectural schools in Mumbai.

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