Ora-Ito in driving seat for Toyota’s Parisian showcase

Toyota unveiled the design for its European flagship showroom on the Champs-Elysées in Paris last week, conceived by French designer Ora-Ito.

Toyota unveiled the design for its European flagship showroom on the Champs-Elysées in Paris last week, conceived by French designer Ora-Ito.

Opening in September, the new space will replace the existing Rendez-Vous Toyota showroom, which opened in 1998. With no cars on sale, its intention is to present a futuristic image in line with the car manufacturer’s new Europe-wide slogan ‘Today, Tomorrow, Toyota’, which was introduced in March.

Eva Ziegler, Toyota brand experience manager, says the company wants ‘to increase awareness of the Toyota brand in an interactive way’. Ora-Ito was chosen from an invited shortlist of four designers – two Japanese, two French – and given a brief to ‘promote the key values of innovation and quality’.

‘We liked the way he knew how to transform the marque with his own style [and] the mastered line, which suggests the idea of calligraphy and proportion [that is] so important to Japan,’ says Carole Favart, an R&D consultant at Toyota. ‘Rendez-Vous Toyota will have the quality of sobriety, not ostentation. We also wanted to show off the Japanese philosophy of perfection in the smallest detail.’

Ora-Ito’s concept echoes the Toyota identity, using ‘shades of white’ animated by a red LED line. ‘I wanted the Rendez-Vous Toyota to correspond to my idea of the future: air, fluidity, lightness,’ he says.

The 1000m2 space is divided into five zones: Tomorrow, for concept cars; Today, presenting the latest models; Innovation, explaining new technology, such as the Hybrid Synergy Drive; a Relax & Shop concept store; and a mezzanine pod dedicated to Toyota’s Formula 1 work.

The showroom represents the largest use so far in Europe of surface material Corian. Its translucence when backlit allows LED lighting to create varied ambiences according to the season and time of day.

Toyota declined to reveal the design budget for the relaunch of the showroom.

Toyota background

• Operates design and R&D centres across Japan, Europe and the US. Four of these specialise in design, including the Toyota Europe Design Development centre in Nice, France.

• These facilities develop car designs to cater specifically for consumers in each global territory.

• Toyota launched the Aygo compact car at the Geneva Motor Show in March, featuring ten promotional cars decorated by young graphic designers.

Ora-Ito studio clients

• Pink TV (2004) – broadcasting studio for gay cable TV channel

• Davidoff cigars Avid (2004) collector’s edition case for cigars, lighter and ashtray

• Sagem myX-8 (2004) multimedia mobile phone

• B&B Italia Fly (2005) chaise-longue in Corian and fabric, launched at Milan Furniture Fair

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