GAS Flagship Store, Harajuku
The design concept for the Harajuku store is founded on the notion of celebration. Celebration of the freedom to choose, to buy, and to enjoy quality and design. Celebration of fashion, celebration of culture and the arts, and celebration of the GAS product line. The oxidized-zinc curtains are a metaphor for the theater of life, where human drama, joy and the arts are celebrated, where mysteries unfold and where audiences are held in fascination and anticipation for what will happen next. So too does the zinc curtain suggest the joy, mystery and the promise of discovery within.
Underground theater is where street meets art. Underground theater connects the avant-garde and youth culture, history with the future, and turns its back on convention and the ordinary. It celebrates and raises the value of life. By evoking these notions through the use of metaphors, the GAS store is, like the product, unconventional, bold, youthful but refined, intelligent but sexy, forward looking but with an eye to the past, and unafraid of the opinions of the orthodox and establishment. In so doing it raises the value of the product, elevating its image by association. The product is presented in a way that is fascinating for urban youth, experimentalists and trendsetters, as well as unconventional adults that identify with these groups. Bold, urban, mysterious and exciting.
The metaphors are contained in the gray and white, oxidized-zinc folded panels, and in the cool gray and white tones of the store interior. These are orchestrated through strategic positioning and lighting to create changing ambiance and distinct focal points as one moves through the store. These materials also serve as an elegant and relatively neutral background that does not compete with, but rather throws emphasis on and exalts the GAS merchandise, which by contrast is brightly colored and detailed.
The Japanese concept of Wabi Sabi celebrates the unfinished and recognizes the higher value of things that have a life of their own. The oxidized zinc is natural and true, and in a constantly evolving state of change. Like fashion and art, culture and architecture, this material is a strong metaphor for the character and image of the GAS product line, which is in a constant state of emergence and discovery.
The history of the building is revealed as a kind of “secret life”, by exposing substructure elements in a limited way within the store. These unfinished elements add character to the concept by suggesting a former life that is still evolving.
The “live wall” is a bold graphic associated with the seasonal collection, or a literal canvas for selected artists to communicate themes in tune with the life of GAS and its customers. The “live wall” and the sculptural stair are strong visual connections to the floors above and below, communicating the existence of additional possibilities and drawing curious customers beyond the ground plane.
The street is engaged literally by the creation of a “piazza”, or event space that thrusts forwards to the sidewalk. Like the “live wall” within, the piazza can also be used to celebrate the arts and youth culture through programmed functions and “happenings”.
By the use of metaphors, a strategic material palette, “live walls”, archeology and orchestrated spaces, the GAS Store concept is rich in life and meaning and in a constant state of change. It evokes a new tendency and direction that is provocative and appealing, and helps raise the character and image of the brand.