MIID & ADF SPECIAL AWARD 2018 - Research Trip

Day 5 - Tuesday 6 March 2019

ADF Day 2 – JAPAN SHOP Exhibition & Visit to Garde International Office

We met at the hotel at 9:30am to head to the JAPAN SHOP Exhibition at Tokyo Big Sight, the largest convention centre in Japan located at the Tokyo Bay Waterfront. There was a monorail train station five minutes away from the hotel that would have taken us directly to the convention centre, however Yukiyo had received a notice through her mobile phone train app that there were some technical difficulties with the train. I was impressed by this feature in the app as it was efficient and could direct us to other train routes and stations to get to our destination.


Tokyo Big Sight; Japan’s largest convention centre.

We arrived at Tokyo Big Sight where the JAPAN SHOP exhibition was held. The exhibition was held from 3rd to 8th March in 2019 and showcases products and services relating to commercial space design and display, as well as a wide array of materials, finishes and products for store or retail designs. There are several other concurrent exhibitions held in conjunction with the JAPAN SHOP - there is a section on Architecture & Construction Materials, Lighting, Security Systems, Retail and Future Office Systems. It is an extremely comprehensive exhibition featuring many different types and ranges of products not only for the building industry, but for business operators as well. Most of the products are from Japan, however there were some products from China as well.


Japan Shop exhibition is one of Japan’s largest exhibitions for anything related to the building industry.

We visited the AICA Laminates booth, one of Japan’s most famous companies specialising in laminate surface sheets and panels. Two of the highlights from the exhibition was visiting a booth that displayed handmade glazed tiles from the Giza prefecture, as well as KITOIRO - a company that produces pine wood boards for decorative wall and floor applications in many colours and patterns.


AICA Laminates booth



After a morning at the JAPAN SHOP, we headed back on the monorail train which passed by the Tokyo Bay waterfront. Yukiyo and Isabella took me to visit the GARDE International Office which is located in a low-rise office building in the Aoyama district along Omotesando Avenue. It is right next to Herzog & de Meuron’s Prada Store as well as the Miu Miu store, also designed by the same architects. GARDE is an international branding and interior design company based in Tokyo with offices in Hong Kong, Milan, Paris, New York, Los Angeles, Singapore and most recently, Kuala Lumpur. Their works are spread over a diverse range of consultancy services and sectors that include high-end luxury retail, residential, hospitality and entertainment facilities. I met the Founder of ADF and CEO of Garde International, Mr. Motoki Okada, as well as several of the Board Members of Garde International. We had a brief conversation about the places we had visited in Tokyo, as well as our project The Granary which we won two awards at the recent MIID Reka Awards 2018, including the ADF Special Award. After a short tour of the office, which is spread over two floors, I continued to walk around Omotesando Avenue and visited the brand name shops that lined the street.


Photo taken at the Garde International Office


Prada Store designed by Herzog & de Meuron at Omotesando

When we were walking to the GARDE International office, we walked past the Dolce & Gabbana store designed by Gwenael Nicolas of the firm Curiosity, the same designer of the Ginza Six interiors. It is a dramatic-looking building with tall vertical panes of frameless glass stretching across the facade against a backdrop of white Calacatta marble. At night, the window panes are brightly illuminated and they are the only visible elements of the facade. Inside, the shop is equally as dramatic if not more. It uses 400 spotlights across the ceiling to create dramatic contrasts between pale and dark surfaces to create spotlights on displayed garments and accessories. The lighting design creates pools of bright light and shadows are intentionally formed to highlight and frame the items on display. The walls are painted matt black as the flatness of the colour reflects the white light when hit by the spotlights. The lights turn on and off and move around the space at a slow, regular rhythm. Areas disappear and appear constantly, so that when you are trying on something, a wall display may suddenly come to life in front of you. The entire landscape of the shop interiors is covered in a black and white graphical blanket that gives off a very theatrical effect, thereby influencing the mood of the customers by creating moments of surprise and wonder.


The Dolce & Gabbana store in Omotesando designed by Tokyo-based design firm Curiosity.

to be continued