Twice as Good

No one from Los Angeles could be blamed for having a flash of déjà vu when chancing upon Philip Lim’s latest flagship store

in the fashionable Cheongdam-Dong district of Seoul. The striking white exterior is uncannily similar to that of the L.A. store.

And that, naturally, is the point. In approaching the design of the rising American fashion superstar’s new flagship store that opened in October 2009 in Asia’s essential location du jour , New York practice Leong Leong Architecture – also responsible for the L.A. store- were acutely aware of the benefits of reprising the achievements of the West Hollywood store as a means of visually building the brand’s international identity. Think of it less as thoughtless repetition and more in keeping with a composer’s approach to variations on a theme.

In Seoul, the skill was to take the larger, more sprawling Los Angeles store as the starting point and then to remake it in a different formulation that works, both aesthetically and practically, on the site in South Korea’s booming fashion capital.

The billowing concrete tiles that clad the exterior, almost giving the effect of studded white leather, signal an identity that is continued inside with the same white and golden blond palette as in the L.A. store. The spiky finishes of the walls, accented with gold barbs, convey a contradictory sense of floating in contrast with the darker floor, yet act as strong perimeters to defined areas. They perhaps rely on a subliminal message interpreted by the body in taking in the tactile but potentially aggressive edges of the walls. In this sense, the interior is a masterpiece – intentionally or otherwise- of incorporating neuroscience into flow control. The end result is a sense of an airy and open space that nonetheless directs the shopper to specific areas in which the garments can be displayed for optimum impact.

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