Lyndon Neri with his partner Rossana Hu or also known together as Neri&Hu, Shanghai-based design studio had convert an existing 1,949m^2 five storey building in Seoul, South Korea became an upscale commercial building which now it is also the largest single brand flagship store in Korea. This flagship store was made for a global luxury beauty brand Sulwhasoo within two years period of time.. Neri&Hu were fascinated by Sulwhasoo’s integrity and intention in creating a holistic products based on the Asian spirit.
This building architecture was inspired by the metaphor and relevance of lantern in Asian history and culture. The idea of a lantern is a container of light, and also as an indication of the beginning and end of a journey. Neri&Hu concept is initiating a strong bond to Asian culture and tradition. At the very beginning, the story was evolved from three key points which are Identity, Journey, and Memory.
They aimed to design a space that could engage all senses from the visitors.
Through the spatial architectural experience Neri&hu also hope it would lead the customers to be able to understand the products in more deeper and meaningful way. Starting at the very first impression from the outside, throughout the journey inside the store, and when they leave the building it would be embedded within their system. They aspired that there will be a lasting memory for everyone that have experienced and seen the products.
With this in mind, bronze enclosure was applied throughout the whole building.
The designers call this as a continuous structure of fine brass filaments which used as the main structure that enhance the shop. In some area, gold could be too overwhelming but in this case, the structure itself bring an airy and nice ambience to the space. Therefore, the materials create soft golden light yet royal atmosphere which captivate the building, from the facade to the interior space the experience is always there.
Following through the existing five storeys inside the building, each level has its own spesific functions and ambience. As visitors proceed up the building, the palette of the material has become lighter an more exposed and it would attract them to interact with the space.
Starting from the basement spa, the interior wall is covered with dark brick, and earthy grey stone for the treatment room. They also use the warm crafted wood floor to bring the sense of intimacy and safety since this basement spa area is more to a private traditional Korean spa program
On the first level, they divided the area into two halls which are boutique and heritage area. The first hall is fully dedicated to the history of the brand where visitors are exploring the unique heritage of Sulwhasoo. This hall is showcases old packaging samples and ingredients. Everythings is neatly presented on golden scales, in stone bowls, and porcelain cups. This area also situated for displaying tools and ingrediets that Sulwhasoo’s used in the process of making their products.
The wall and ceiling design in this room was made from combined cubes frame structure. Inside each frame, there are various types of herbs that Sulwhasoo’s used for their products where they tied on a small bunch and hang it to give a flying effects. Meanwhile, in the middle of each wall all of the products displayed luxuriously with wooden display table and backdrops.
The other hall on the same floor has different Sulwhasoo’s products and tester and also play a role as the main entrance hall of the building.
Once arriving into the second floor, they have boutique and gift service area. In this area, visitors are going to experience the prestige of Sulwhasoo’s entire collections and recceive premium gift wrapping service. This is the main store where tons of exclusive products for sell being displayed. In this area, the products displayed accordingly starting from the oldest products to the very recent one based on their types and spesifications using the wooden table display with white marble table top. The products are displayed on top of wooden plate or gold metal plate as the support.
Culture lounge, is on the third floor where people can attend cultural and beauty classes or any event held by the store and where visitors can also savor traditional Korean tea and refreshment in their VIP lounge. Besides, there is also a media art zone where the customers can experience to also being part of Sulwhasoo’s advertisement in a full-screen room with sakura flowers on the background. In this lounge, there is one room where visitors can also experienced the Korean culture by trying on Hanbok which is Korean traditional clothes.
Moving on to the next floor, there are balance spa area. This treatment room included a spa area, shower room for the customers to use, and also powder room where after finishing their treatment customers can try out all the products they have provided. In contrast with the basement spa, this spa area offering a more casual spa experience with the room facing the Dosan Park.
It finally comes to a crescendo where a roof terrace with the brass structure sunshade that smoothly composed, capturing boundless views of the city surrounds the building. This beatiful terrace with magnificent views can be access by all of the visitors.
Like what shown in the floor plan drawing, they separate the space accordingly and fill up the unused space wtih the brass structure. To highlight the endless lattice brass structure that saturate the area, round mirrors and round light fixtures are blended in the space between the strut. This features will help enhance the merchandise and products displayed.
Inspired by floral walls that surrounds the residences of royal women in Korean palaces and blossom-patterned doors in traditional temples, Sulwhasoo’s iconic plum blossom patterns showcase subtle but captivating beauty. The balanced beauty of curves and straight lines, and the harmony of non-existent six-petal flowers, symbolize the ideal beauty that Sulwhasoo’s pursues. This pattern has also become another main pattern for the brass structure that are used in many area inside the building.