Case study 5: Life Salon – Insurance bank concepts, Tokyo, Japan

To create retail prototypes for a new type of ‘insurance bank’ in Japan, where insurance transactions have traditionally been handled by sales staff. Insurance is ‘deposited’ rather than sold and consumers expect a ‘clinic’ they can consult whenever they

Life Salon – Insurance bank concepts, Tokyo, Japan


Client: Link Trust
Shop design: Kimizuka Architects
Retail standardisation co-ordinator: Works-one Co
Contractor (Retail A): Tsuka Koubou+4Ls Co
Contractor (Retail B): Nomura

The brief: To create retail prototypes for a new type of ‘insurance bank’ in Japan, where insurance transactions have traditionally been handled by sales staff. Insurance is ‘deposited’ rather than sold and consumers expect a ‘clinic’ they can consult whenever they want and wherever they are. The client, a Japanese venture company, wanted to introduce a different system for a national insurance bank chain.



Kentaro Kimizuka says: ‘The proposal is simple, but unconventional, involving a circular programme of prompts to visualise the insurance bank service flow and to explain it to customers. These prompts – “gallery” to review, “lab” to produce, and “member’s salon” to deposit insurance – are allocated around a kiosk.


Traditionally, this kind of shop is dominated by spaces for staff desks, with only reception counters and waiting spaces for customers. However, most desk work can be done on a laptop nowadays. As a result, the insurance bank was transformed into a kind of “salon” to relay insurance information. This led to the creation of the name Life Salon. There was now no barrier between staff and customer, apart from the kiosk.


The other important task was how the retail concept could be recognised by customers. The outlets are being located between railway stations and residential areas, to gain commuter recognition. However, location alone is not enough, as most Japanese are not familiar with this type of service.


I believe that the design, rather than ads, would not only inspire people to pop in, but also create an identity for the salons. The “living atmosphere” was thus proposed to create a sense of familiarity. Screed, timber flooring and stair carpets are typical of Japanese design. The prototypes are being standardised, and a new insurance bank style – the Life Salon adventure – has just begun.’



Specifier’s checklist and principal finishes:

Retail A (square prototype):


• Furniture – Ready-made: N-Style, Azumaya, Thomason, Inoac Living, Rod
• Furniture – Bespoke: Kimizuka Architects (design); Tsuka Koubou+4Ls Co (supplier)
• Floor: Solid cherry flooring, tile carpet, rubber flooring with screed pattern
• Wall (general): Plasterboard, skim and paint finish, vinyl cloth
• Wall (utility booth): Japanese cedar bevel siding with oil stain finish
• Ceiling: Vinyl cloth



Retail B (rectangular prototype):


• Furniture – Ready-made and bespoke:
Clay, Sancosmo, Kicker, Macaron, Libero
• Furniture – Bespoke: Designed by Kimizuka Architects
• Floor: Engineered hard maple flooring, tile carpet, screed
• Wall (general): Plasterboard, skim and paint finish
• Wall (utility booth): Special paint (jolypate )
• Ceiling: Plasterboard, skim and paint finish



Project completed: March 2007 (Retail A), May 2007 (Retail B)

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