Context: Beautiful Chaos
“In 2004, Rei Kawakubo, the genius behind the Japanese brand Comme des Garçons, introduced a new retail concept to London. Dover Street Market, named for its location in London’s tony Mayfair neighborhood, is a mash-up of market, department store and museum. Individual concessions handpicked by Kawakubo, which run the gamut from luxury labels like Lanvin and Azzedine Alaïa to the utilitarian wares of Labour & Wait and the edible goods of Rose Bakery, share space with art and design installations and the multiple labels in the Comme des Garçons fashion family. Last week, Kawakubo opened Dover Street Market in Tokyo, doubling its size and placing it squarely in the center of Ginza, the city’s shopping mecca, where venerable department stores, luxury boutiques and the supersize flagship stores of brands like Uniqlo line the streets.
Like its sister store in London, Dover Street Market Ginza (DSMG) hews to Kawakubo’s notion of “beautiful chaos.” “I see it as the mixing up and coming together of different kindred souls who all share a strong personal vision,” says the designer who not only conceived all the spaces for her Comme des Garçons brands as well as spaces for several others labels but also curated the selection of artists, architects and set designers whose work is installed throughout the building’s six floors.”
Excerpt from “Even Bigger in Japan – Tokyo Gets Its Own Dover Street Market” by Brooke Hodge, ‘T’ The New York Times Style Magazine, March 23, 2012
Cocoons: Type Variant
Adding to the mix in the new Dover Street Market Ginza are Cocoons, by Patkau Architects. Comme des Garcons originally contacted the architects after seeing a publication of their Skating Shelters in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They requested a type variant of the shelters, as change enclosure and/or display, constructed to meet fire codes in Tokyo. The transformation required both a material change and variation of the form. Within the context of a “Beautiful Chaos”, Cocoons are mostly silent figures, quietly calming a field around themselves, a moment of pause in the ecstasy of the whirlwind. They have their own internal scale separate from that of the space within which they stand. They are animate and intimate figures, a pair or couple of ‘something’, a relationship of two; irreducible to a single interpretation. Their role is equally ambiguous, change enclosure or display, occupier or occupied…open to interpretation.
A soft, muted exterior surface of stainless steel transforms sheet to mass, constructing a sense of the immutable. The figuration is clear, from some perspectives seamless. Soft mass absorbs and blurs the ‘delirium’ of immediate context. Form appears to ‘hold’ light, to make it almost ‘material’ as a volume. Interior reflections multiply formal symmetries in a dizzying kaleidoscopic array. One enters a space that is entirely ‘other’, like some sort of cryogenic chamber…and emerges ‘changed’…while the cocoons themselves calmly ‘continue’, asserting the undeniable presence of their ‘bodies’ amongst the surrounding ephemera.
The making of the cocoons is remarkably like the making of clothing. Each cocoon is assembled from three pattern-cut 18 gauge stainless steel sheets to form subtle, body-like forms. Flanges along the ridge, spine, and mid-panel seams are folded and reinforced with drilled and tapped 7 gauge stainless steel plates to accept countersunk fasteners. The panels are welded to 3 gauge base plates that fasten to a 1.5”x1.5” HSS stainless steel frame, binding the assembly into a structural unity. A 1” thick acrylic floor is lit from below. The change enclosure is fitted with a pivoting steel-framed door which is clad in shear white fabric that offers privacy while maintaining light transmitting capacity so as to emit a soft white glow from the interior.