The Me Generation
Gwenael Nicolas of Curiosity Inc. dispenses with the obvious in his boutique design for Issey Miyake's new brand.
Jen Renzi -- Interior Design, 11/1/2001 12:00:00 AM
Issey Miyake has been reinventing fashion for more than 30 years, but the designer still has a few tricks up his sleeve. His latest brand, Me Issey Miyake, revolutionizes the very nature of shopping. The youth-targeted brand, a line of one-size-fits-all tops offered in a single shape and a variety of colors and patterns, pointed to a new way of merchandising, says principal Gwenael Nicolas of the Tokyo-based firm Curiosity Inc. "We were interested in redefining the process of shopping by creating a direct interaction between the customers and the products," explains Nicolas, who has collaborated with Miyake on boutique and package designs for the past six years. "I'd wanted to use the concept of the vending machine and self-service for a while, and Me provided the opportunity to develop this concept globally."
The design was rolled out at a small boutique in Tokyo's Matsuya Ginza department store. "The shop is really small," says Nicolas of the 200-sq.-ft. space, "but inaugurates a new approach to interior design. Product becomes the main element in the interior." Nicolas collapses the boundaries between merchandise and architecture, storage and display, with a novel wall system reminiscent of a vending machine. The Me tops, which arrive from the factory already stored in logo-embossed, cylindrical plastic tubes, are displayed in J-shaped acrylic trays mounted vertically behind a glass wall. When a shirt is selected from the dispensing system, another falls into place at the bottom of the tray. "My aim was to minimize the items in the shop and control the way products are displayed," says Nicolas, who limited freestanding elements to two acrylic fixtures and a wheeled folding station. The challenge of the concept, he concludes, "was to create an identity where the different fields of design"—clothing, packaging, interiors, and graphics—"blend in."
Hisaaki Hirawata and Reiko Miyamoto collaborated on the store interiors; Mayuko Yonemoto is credited with packaging design.