More, More, More
With a boutique called Gallery More, X-LineDesign brings cosmopolitan chic to rural Taiwan
Andrew Yang -- Interior Design, 4/1/2007 12:00:00 AM
A rural seaside county south of Taiwan's capital, Ilan has always been a haven for day-trippers seeking a break from the hustle and bustle of Taipei—hardly a place to find high-end fashion boutiques or bespoke interiors. But since the 8-mile-long Snow Mountain Tunnel opened last June, shortening what was once a two-hour journey to a mere 30 minutes, visitors from Taipei have been arriving in droves. And along with the influx of tourists have come hip restaurants and shops. Gallery More, a sleek fashion boutique, has delivered an even bolder jolt of contemporaneity to Ilan's quickly evolving commercial landscape.
Designed by Chih Chung Shen of X-LineDesign, Gallery More wouldn't appear out of context in Tokyo, New York, or London, and the look is all the more appropriate, given the proprietor's decision to carry just three labels: Lu Lu Cheung of Hong Kong and Vanessabruno of Paris as well as local couturier Stephane Dou. "When I lived in London, I always went to galleries," says Shen, who studied at the Chelsea College of Art and Design. "So we started with this idea of a gallery, a space that explains the work of the artists shown there." A narrow rectangle at ground level and a smaller one below, the spare 2,800-square-foot interior features a stark black-and-white palette and materials such as mirror and polished stainless steel. The effect is refined but modern, not unlike Studio Sofield's interiors for Gucci during the tenure of Tom Ford.
Sheltered by an arcade, the glass storefront opens up the ground level to public view. Halfway back, changing rooms on both sides compress the space slightly but expand it visually: The unbroken rows of doors are paneled on one side in plain mirror and on the other in mirror tinted black; the ceiling between is clad in shiny black acrylic. This intermediate space also acts as a transition to the back, where the black marble cash-wrap counter is. Some clothes are displayed behind chrome-framed glass, suggesting that the garments are museum quality. The glass creates a moment of pause for shoppers, before they interact with a blouse or jacket. "Not only can people look around but, before they touch anything, they can also consider why we display these kinds of clothes in this shop," Shen explains.
The most dramatic element is the steel cables, nearly 10,000 of them fastened variously to the floor, ceiling, walls, or stainless-steel frames. Some of the cable formations serve as barriers, for example alongside a staircase. In other places, the cables simply follow an actual wall, giving the surface depth and texture. In front, closely spaced rows of cables descend from the ceiling to support the massive rectangular steel frame of a display case suspended 3 feet above the black ceramic-tiled floor—an aesthetic element becomes a structural component, the gallery a piece of public art. Translating the cable idea into reality proved difficult, requiring an entire month. As Shen relates, "The contractors installing the cables all had terrible blisters, and we had some quarrels with the client, who asked me, 'What are you doing? Why install thousands of cables?' When we were nearing completion, the client finally said, 'I get what you mean.'"
Shen mentions his deep respect for Japanese master Tadao Ando, but influences on Gallery More came from more abstract and symbolic sources. The idea for the cables derived from the desire to create complexity from as few components as possible. Shen also envisions the space and its contents in dialogue: The cables weave a texture from simple lines, just like the threads of a fabric.