Is architecture the future of branding? Looking at retail trends over the past 5 years one might draw that conclusion. When Prada hired Rem Koolhaus to design their flagship NYC store in 2001, fashion retailers everywhere have been clamoring to beef up their brands with starchitect power. Nowhere is this more evident than on Tokyo’s main shopping drag Omotesando. Prada started the trend here by hiring Herzog & de Meuron to design their monument to brand, and other fashion houses like Dior and Louis Vuitton have followed suit.
Next in the line of Starchitect retail design is Toyo Ito’s gorgeous new building for Tod’s, the Italian leather-goods company. The Tod’s building takes it inspiration from the zelkova trees that line the street below. The seven story building is framed by a concrete exoskeleton ?an angular, asymmetrical latticework of crisscrossing braces that resemble tree branches. At night, with the lights on, the silhouetted structure transforms the whole building into a stylized forest.
I wouldn’t normally write about retail design on this site (since Inhabitat is geared towards the home), but I like Toyo Ito’s unique organic design so much, I felt it was worth delving into public space to cover. What inspires me about this building is its innovative use of concrete to create a very original structure. The Tod building is proof that concrete doesn’t always have to be so cold, heavy and boring. Even a rectangular seven story tower can feel light, friendly and organic, when given a considered, thoughtful approach that takes into context the surrounding area.
Apparently shoppers and architecture fans alike are taken with the new Tod’s store. Tod’s CEO and founder, Diego Della Valle, and his wife, architect Barbara Pistilli, instantly fell in love with Ito’s tree motif from the moment they saw it. They consider it the perfect architectural expression of the company’s image as a user of natural materials.