-- SHISEIDO THE GINZA, Shiseido's center of beauty, has brought color to the streets of Ginza since 1975. In January, it was reborn as SHISEIDO THE STORE. Could you give us the background leading up to this refurbishment?
Nobuto: The streets of Tokyo are gradually changing as we approach 2020, and Ginza is also attracting more and more attention. Against the backdrop of these developments, we felt that it is necessary for Shiseido's main store, SHISEIDO THE GINZA, to take the next step forward, and undergo a transformation to become a flagship store that embodies the future vision of the brand.
As this was a full-scale refurbishment that involves a complete overhaul from the concept, a project team was established with the staff of SHISEIDO THE GINZA as its core members. Within that, the Creative Division (Advertising and Design Department until December 2017) was responsible for supervising the design aspects of the refurbishment, including interior design and creative works.
-- The store was also renamed as SHISEIDO THE STORE.
Ishii: This is our periphrasis of "Shiseido's main store." We picked a clear and simple name that can easily be understood globally.
Nobuto: It was the result of applying the saying "Names and natures do often agree" in a straightforward way. I think this name has a confident and prestigious ring to it.
-- What were some of the major changes to the store?
Nobuto: In the past, we had focused on creating an open retail space based on the concept of "marché," where consumers could move around freely and try out all the Shiseido brands. Sales performance was also in good form with the impact of inbound tourism. However, the purpose of this refurbishment is to create a store that—as the main store of Shiseido—accurately and firmly communicates Shiseido's brand values. With that in mind, we set out the goal of creating a place where SHISEIDO and Clé de Peau Beauté, the two brands that are driving Shiseido's global growth, can shine even more brilliantly than before.
We have also revamped the space. Due to unexpected changes in the environment such as a sharp increase in the number of consumers and demand for duty-free services, the free movement based on the "marché" concept had made it difficult to organize the flow of consumer movement through the store. Moreover, because of a design which dictated that floors above the second floor had to be reached via elevator, we faced the problem of a fragmented route that made it difficult for the flow of people to reach the higher floors.
Under the extremely tough conditions of carrying out refurbishment works while continuing with store operations, we commissioned the design office nendo/onndo to design the space and work as our partner to solve these issues intelligently.
-- In cooperation with the partner nendo/onndo, how did you incorporate the concept into the space?
Nobuto: We designed the consumer traffic line that goes up to the second floor using the stairs, and created a flow that allows them to move around smoothly. We had trouble in deciding how to define the image of "prestige" (a sense of luxury and quality) for Shiseido, and how to communicate this image. To that end, we felt that the answer still lies in harnessing Shiseido's unique history and traditions. The motif that nendo/onndo proposed as the embodiment of "prestige" was the Hanatsubaki logo.
The original pattern for the Hanatsubaki logo was drawn by our first president, Shinzo Fukuhara, in 1915. Since this is a design that we have been using from more than a century ago, there have also been voices within the company questioning if it is still relevant as a representation of our activities toward the future.
To solve the problem of how to present the Hanatsubaki logo in a fresh perspective, the suggestion that we received was to create a pattern out of the silhouette of the logo. Hence, we made the repetitive use of this silhouette the characteristic of the entire building, and I believe you will understand the overall look when you actually see the store.
Ishii: The silhouette of the Hanatsubaki logo has been used all over the store, including the mirror frames, the shadows of the lighting, staircase railings, and walls. It has even been applied to the graphic design of the shopping bags in the form of a platinum-gold logo of the silhouette made to look like a mirror reflection. To match the atmosphere of the store, we came up with prototypes in many color and pattern variations and considered them all.
-- The suggestion from nendo/onndo has been applied boldly and widely across the store from the interior to the graphics, hasn't it?
Nobuto: Being inside the company makes it difficult for us to see ourselves. Even though we have always cherished the Hanatsubaki logo, we have only preserved it, and have never applied it to such ideas before. Incorporating the perspective of an external party has created an innovative spatial design through a continuous pattern of feminine curves.
I believe that prestigious brands of the future not only have to fulfill the criteria of tradition, quality, and class, but also have to be equipped with a spirit of playfulness. Until now, we have faced the dilemma of placing great importance on history and failing to tackle new challenges, but I believe that through this project, we have succeeded in fusing tradition with modernity.
-- What are the other features we should look out for?
Ishii: Cosmetic products have been used as materials for the interior décor, such as walls covered in a special paint that uses eyeshadow, and flooring saturated with camellia oil.
Nobuto: While these features may not be immediately apparent at one glance, what is important here is the story that you would instinctively want to tell another person about. This is something that nendo/onndo gave consideration to. We have a story as a prestigious brand, and our commitment to the highest quality as well as our playful spirit coexist in this story. That, in itself, is also the essence of Ginza. I believe that nendo/onndo was able to come up with such a successful proposal precisely because this concept has been communicated properly within the company from the planning team to the designers.
-- Even the exterior of the building has been refurbished, hasn't it?
Nobuto: The section on the first floor that used to be surrounded by large panes of glass has been unified with the exterior design of the second and higher floors. Our aim was to create an effect where the entire building looks like a single store.
In regard to the exterior, we have actually also added some creative touches to the curtains. We applied a traditional method of tying a knot known as the "awaji-musubi" to make the Hanatsubaki logo emerge in sharp relief against all the glass surfaces of the store. While these may be subtle, their elegance brings out a sense of originality, and they are particularly impressive when viewed at night.
-- What are some of the services provided at SHISEIDO THE STORE?
Nobuto: Taking the opportunity of the refurbishment, we have expanded the first floor and introduced new services. At the same time, we have also upgraded all the services that we have previously offered, including the sale of cosmetics, esthetic services, hair and makeup services, and shooting in the photography studio. The services become more personal the higher up the floors you go, and the density of the space as well as texture of the materials also change correspondingly.
-- The fourth floor is a newly established space. What kind of place is it?
Ishii: We have created SHISEIDO THE TABLES on the fourth floor as a community space equipped with the functions of a café. This is where the Creative Division lent a hand in the planning process. Based on the concept of "a place where we regain our natural beauty," this floor not only offers tea and food, but also the exhibition and sale of books, sale of original merchandise and specialty lifestyle goods, as well as events.
Going one step beyond the services and hospitality that we provide on the lower floors, we also provide contents—apart from cosmetic products—that serve as hints for enhancing the aesthetic sense that consumers can bring back with them into their everyday lives.
-- It is also like a secret hideout where consumers can sit and enjoy tea and meals in a calm atmosphere, with a book in their hands.
Ishii: We have taken great care to create a space where consumers can relax and be themselves, while offering a selection of books and a café menu with the taste of homemade food amidst a unique time frame of five seasons, achieved by dividing the seasons up more delicately than the four seasons we know of.
We are also planning food events that will give consumers a taste of each of the five seasons as they change, makeup and fashion events, talk sessions with external creatives, and other events. The tables designed with the motif of the Hanatsubaki are a symbolic space here, and that is how we derived the name "SHISEIDO THE TABLES."
-- This looks like it is set to become a new favorite spot for visitors to Ginza.
Ishii: The show windows on the first floor will also change in tandem with the five seasons. Works by the artist Mai Miyake are currently on display. To establish a connection with the messages that Shiseido is sending out to Ginza, we also plan to collaborate with other departments, including the Hanatsubaki magazine and the Shiseido Gallery. We hope to make this a place where visitors can gain new inspiration each time they visit.
Nobuto: Moving forward, as we approach 2020, Ginza will also undergo rapid transformation. It would be wonderful if Shiseido can play an active role in creating new memories of this Ginza, and if visitors walk away with the thought "It's great to have Shiseido in Ginza." We hope that the Shiseido main store will become a place that creates a sense of overlap in the images of SHISEIDO THE STORE and Ginza.