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black brilliance

The elegance of a little black dress transmutes into a candescent black tower and both become one spell–the Armani Tower 22

ROUBLE RAGHUVANSHI FIRST, THINK Armani. Then, motif in a bunch of leaves, rich in the colour of the season, hanging charmingly in partial luminescence against a translucent black backdrop. Combine them both, and it’s only natural to imagine a piquantly designed gown from the outstanding artist. But, it is architecture that we are talking about–the Armani Tower in Ginza, a building that crystallises the image of the ‘duke of design’, Giorgio Armani. Created by architect-duo Massimiliano and Doriano Fuksa, the 12-storey flagship store set in the Ginza shopping district of Tokyo is a bold statement in black, recreating Armani’s aesthetic code. It is a unit casket to the entirety of his creative output–all Giorgio Armani and Emporio Armani collections are housed here. Brightly lit, the building blends gracefully with the backdrop of a fast-paced cityscape, and is as neat and moving as Armani’s haute couture and accessories. Through microscopic detailing, Massimiliano and Doriano Fuksa have revealed the world of Armani through an assortment of screens, which are gossamer-light and silk-precious. The black-tinted, glass-surface exterior mirrors and transmits reflections of the sky and those of the colourful lights from the surrounding buildings, all day and night. A cascade of intensely lit leaves, which change in colour with the time of the day and season, gracefully hang down the tower’s facade, toning down its porosity. The store is no less than a fine piece of poetic wonder. Ginza Tower’s dramatic exterior has an awe-binding interior, warmly wrapped in. The 12-fold surprise includes the complete Giorgio Armani and Emporio Armani collections, the Armani interior furniture line, a private bar on the top floor, and the very first Armani Spa. The building’s gilt metal frame of the first three floors is aesthetically supplied with traditional Japanese bamboo motif, which, indeed, spans through the facades of the entire building. Be it in the gold metal mesh silhouetting the seats in the restaurant or the transparent Plexiglas display units on the walls with frosted glass, the bamboo ornamentation remains central to the theme of the store. The fineness and sophistication of brand Giorgio Armani is juxtaposed with the immediacy and modernity of the spaces dedicated to the Emporio brand, which can be identified by more expansive areas, wherein, shafts of white light cut through and are reflected within the setting. But the surprise element running along the internal pathway between the zones is what ignites emotion as one goes by.

August 2009 |


GA STORE ARMANI Enter the GA Boutiques, enter luxury. A plush, comfy lounge area makes for a balmy welcome. The area is artistically outlined by a rug, a clothes stand and a partition wall created by the interposition of a platinum-coloured metal grid between two layers of extra-clear glass, which presents the various categories of merchandise. The wall, the flooring and the ceiling are all marked by black features–the signature Armani black tiles in reconstituted marble and steel slabs with a glossy black finish, broadcast a classy, fine visual. The illuminated walls are lined with brushed glass; the panes are all back-painted; the wall display cabinets are in transparent Plexiglas and the pattern that emerges reminds one of bamboo forests, with the leaves used as supports and display units. The furniture is all wood, finished with brushed Plexigass and extraclear glass for the cabinets. Every partition in the store has been created on the basis of the “see/ don’t see” concept, joining various layers of brushed and/or extra-clear glass to a layer of platinum-gray metal grid. The result is rich yet sombre, plush and artistic. EA STORE ARMANI The EA Store is a peculiar design concept synthesising binary opposites, luxury and immediacy, together. The light system is spectacular and is a testament to perfect research and ingenious design. As the exterior, the ceiling, the walls and the glossy black flooring rebound the numerous reflections within the Emporio Armani zone, the retro-illumination, positioned behind the laser-cut linear openings, creates luminous stripes in the wall and on the ceiling, which are, in turn, reflected and overlap in a continuous and indefinite manner. An unbroken strip is folded to create special loops for the merchandise display, with each unit unique to the merchandise it holds. The intensity of the light on the merchandise has been so set that it produces the appropriate ratio between the support walls and the ceiling. The light inside the walls and the ceilings moves to suggest a gentle wavelike motion throughout the showroom. The merchandise is given its own life through strong contrast. A luminous fitting hidden behind the lowered ceiling hides the direct illumination on the merchandise. A system of custom-built panels maximises


the luminous angulations. Continuous strip walls, produced by calendaring, perforated by laser cutting and painted steel slabs, echo sophistication. Retroillumination gives the graphic design–which is a facsimile of the Emporio Armani symbol–a dense prominence and a smooth flow. RESTAURANT AND PRIVE’ Retelling the story of distinct designing, flaunting GA and Emporio motifs studded with new details and materials, the Restaurant and Prive’ on the 10th floor of the building is gorgeously appetising. For the vertical partition, Fuksa uses the same platinum-gray metal grid positioned between two layers of extra-clear glass as in the EA store. The black ceiling and the floor have the same construction and image

characteristics as in the GA store. The panels in black-painted wood, with gold leaf inserted in the cavity beneath the surface, are encircled by a series of portals created with steel slabs given a brushed gold finish. These perforated screens sashay unusual design in bamboo. The private quarters take luxury to an exclusive height. A special teakdecked area surrounds a petite-pretty garden, highlighted with bamboo in pots and glass-level lighting. The main hall is separated from a small private room by a punched sliding panel with leaf design–showcasing differential continuity, a rare, oxymoronic coherence of design. The tall, dark and handsome tower is home to the best of man’s genius. And in creating this elegantly modish atelier, Massimiliano and Doriano Fuksa have assimilated and expressed the journey and soul of the brand and the man–Armani.

August 2009 |



EMPORIUM ARMANI GINZA TOWER The elegance of a little black dress transmutes into a candescent black tower and both become one spell–the Arma...