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Next-level stores: Architect duo puts the pleasure back into shopping

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Koichi Suzuno, left, and Shinya Kamuro pose for a photo at the renovated Masunaga 1905 Aoyama glasses store in Minato Ward, Tokyo.

By Yoshiko Uchida / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterIn a world where you can buy things online and have them shipped right to your door, physical stores need to be as attractive as possible to make customers want to visit. Two architects who have gained recognition in the fashion world are doing just this with their fascinating store designs.

Last December, Masunaga Optical Mfg Co., a high-end glasses maker based in Fukui, reopened its store in Minato Ward, Tokyo, after renovation. The new design is by Torafu Architects — comprising Koichi Suzuno, 44, and Shinya Kamuro, 43.

The shop is housed in a three-story building that has a depth of 12 meters but is only 3 meters across. Still, the two architects made the most out of this incredibly narrow space.

Glasses are placed individually on panels jutting out in a staggered pattern from a long wall running the length of the building, with light hitting them at an angle from overhead. The design truly does its job of capturing the beauty of the stylish spectacles.

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  • Photo Takumi Ota

    Mina Perhonen’s outlet in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture, was given a fun and colorful design.

  • © 2017 Issey Miyake Inc.

    A pop-up store for Pleats Please Issey Miyake set up last summer at Isetan department store in Shinjuku, Tokyo

  • Photo Takumi Ota

    A wall at Yamada Sen-I Co.’s Musubi store displays furoshiki, with examples of how to use the cloth hanging from the ceiling.

“If a building or place has unique features, they serve as challenges,” Suzuno said. “However, if we can take advantage of them, we can create something that’s one of a kind.

“We treasure what we feel when we first visit a place [we’re going to work on],” he added.

Sotaro Masunaga, the president of the glasses company, said his renovated shop has gained “a simple but well-calculated design.” He added that the flagship store is seeing an increasing number of customers.

Suzuno and Kamuro established their architectural business in 2004 while working together on renovating rooms at Hotel Claska in Meguro Ward, Tokyo. Since then, their business has covered a variety of projects, from designing private homes to arranging exhibitions.

They have also used their skills in helping fashion stores.

At Mina Perhonen’s outlet in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture, for example, the floor is a patchwork of fabrics in the brand’s signature stylish patterns. The furniture arranged in the middle of the store to display items for sale features thin legs, encouraging customers to appreciate the floor design.

The architect duo designed a pop-up store featuring zigzag patterns for Pleats Please Issey Miyake that was set up last summer at the Isetan department store in Shinjuku, Tokyo. They have also worked on window displays for Hermes and the interiors of stores run by Yamada Sen-I Co., a Kyoto-based furoshiki wrapping cloth maker.

The pair say they aim to “create shops that draw in customers by putting the focus on the products.”

The spaces Suzuno and Kamuro have created go beyond just looking refined: They provide a sense of comfort as well. The balance the architects achieve has certainly helped put them in the spotlight.Speech

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