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Tiffany & Co., Tokyo, Japan

Issue 49 Jun / Jul 2009 : Retail : Store


Uchihara Creative Lighting Design has created a shimmering façade for Kengo Kuma’s Tiffany & Co. flagship store in Ginza using LED technology.

The new Tokyo Tiffany flagship store in Ginza, the largest Tiffany store in Japan, finally opened in October 2008 to a fanfare of approval. The company purchased the land and building housing the store in 2003 in order to secure Tiffany’s long-term presence at the prime location, and has always had the intention to renovate and sell-leaseback the property. The design is the creation of noted Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, and his design firm Kengo Kuma Associates, who said that his design inspiration is “a jewelry-like architecture that echoes Tiffany’s visual identity”.

The building’s exterior features 292 double-pane glass panels canted like facets on a diamond, with an aluminum honeycomb secured between the panes. The façade is designed to reflect the dynamic Ginza streetscape by day and generate a brilliant lightshow at night.

Among the notable features of this project is the dual-purpose architectural design theme, which intends to achieve synergy in presenting the Tiffany brand. The entire building displays a single, elegant design theme, and is adorned with unique architectural elements that create an impression of sparkling diamonds as illuminative symbols of the Tiffany brand.

The lighting design faced several challenges, particularly in creating fine particles of grounded light that were small enough to meet the architectural design goals, yet appropriate for the illumination and reflection. Panels of hexagonal “honeycombs” were eventually developed from aluminum aircraft technology, and layered carefully at specific angles to emit light in various directions.

Ideas were also experimented with for embedding the lighting in the façade, and two kinds of lighting sources, incandescent lamp and LED with an electric lamp colour temperature, were considered for the radiance sought in the design concept. The smaller LED from Panasonic was finally selected as the source lighting for its energy efficiency and lifespan, and a warmer colour was chosen to exhibit Tiffany’s refinement and hospitality.

As night falls on the edifice, a dramatic array of images leading from the sky above to the human activity from within reflects softly and beautifully on the façade. An evening program changes the lighting in slow sequences, giving the appearance of a living entity, breathing through the illumination.

This overall lighting design - softer and gentler than conventional forms of light-emitting advertising schemes - proposes to characterise a novel structural impression as a brand, and as a fresh presence within the urban landscape.


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