Top studios create Uniqlo London flagships

Two of Japan’s leading design studios have come together to create Japanese retailer Uniqlo’s second global flagship, which opens on London’s Oxford Street next week.

Award-winning graphic designer and founder of design studio Samurai, Kashiwa Sato, has joined forces with interior designer and founder of Wonderwall, Masamichi Katayama, to create the London store, having worked on its first flagship site in New York, which opened in November last year. Sato refreshed the Uniqlo marque at the same time.

The stores are the first in a series of ‘next generation’ global flagships, which Uniqlo sees as key to realising its vision of becoming a world leader in casualwear retailing.

The 2300m2 London store, designed to be a ‘stunning architectural landmark’ offering an ‘unparalleled modern Japanese shopping experience’, will help it steal a march on its UK high street rivals, according to a Uniqlo spokesman. A second, 1500m2 store will be launched concurrently at the other end of Oxford Street. This will bring the number of Uniqlo shops on Oxford Street to three.

The creative team was briefed to bring a modern Japanese retail experience to the London market, as well as to open up the inside of the store to the street.

‘Modern simplicity’ and ‘functional beauty’ reflect the thinking behind the store design, says the spokesman.

Key design features will include a series of glass tubes spanning the first and ground floors. Located at the store entrance, these will encase rotating mannequins wearing items from the latest ranges.

Floor tiling around the doorway will mirror the pavement outside, providing a seamless entrance to the store. Elements of the retailer’s T shirt store in Harajuku, Tokyo – also designed by Sato – will be used within the London store. Items packaged in clear canisters, and stored on open, refrigerator-style shelves, aim to create a ‘self-service’ shopping experience.

• Uniqlo, owned by Fast Retailing, launched in the UK in 2001
• Uniqlo is understood to be Japan’s top clothing retailer, by sales
• Kashiwa Sato founded Samurai in 2000. He is known for his art direction work for Honda and for creating the logo for the National Arts Centre in Tokyo
• Masamichi Katayama established Wonderwall in 2000, and has created concepts for Sony, Marc Jacobs and clothing brand Bape

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