Unboxing: Angled Metal-Clad Canopy Hints at Surprises in Store

unboxing storefront design

There is nothing like a good mystery to draw people in, but adapting that maxim in an architectural context flies in the face of convention, making this barely-open-box building all the more effective in how it employs the element of surprise.

unboxing exterior facade night

unboxing front facade

While closing people off to what is for sale may seem antithetical to showcasing wares. At the same time, that is precisely the paradox Herzog & De Meuron’s latest storefront for a fashionable chain of Japanese boutiques uses to its advantage.

unboxing facade interior

This new shop for Miu Miu, intended to be its flagship operation, works on both fronts, playing on our desire to unbox from outside while creating an intimate interior space within.

unboxing main entry

While the outside is polished and minimalist, like the case of some fresh new smartphone, the inside is set up as much like a living room as a store, encouraging people to browse, linger, sit and lounge among the various items for sale. Mannequins are set up as participants and exemplars, themselves sitting on the seats or floors, or leaning against racks in the store.

unboxing sitting spaces

“The typological model that best suited these considerations and specifications was a box placed directly at the level of the street, its cover slightly open to mark the entrance and allow pedestrians to look inside,” explain the architects. “Only then do they realize that the building is a shop. Here, under the oversized canopy, the two-storey interior is visible at a single glance, as if the volume had been sliced open with a big knife, turning the inside out.”

unboxing store interior chairs

unboxing living room

“The rounded, soft edges of the copper surfaces inside meet with the razor-sharp steel corners on the outside of the metal box, while the cave-like niches clad in brocade face the central space of the shop like loges in a theater. The shop on two tall storeys not only presents enticing goods on tables and in display cases; it is also like a spacious and comfortable home with inviting sofas and armchairs.”