Aluminium forest

The widespread demand for new materials and innovative products in the interior design industry has triggered the need to find more creative solutions to meet this demand.
4 December, 2020
Aluminium is both durable and long-lasting, with almost limitless design possibilities, thus, the use of the metal is ideal when creating interior decorations and furniture. Aluminium's lightweight characteristics and strength allow a designer free reign in the creative process. The metal is also very malleable meaning artists can form designs in the most unusual of shapes, even as delicate and intricate as tree leaves.
One of the oldest Tokyo department stores - Nihombashi Mitsukoshi, established in 1904 by a retail brand able to trace its history back to 1673, in coalition with a kimono fabric seller named Echigoya, have set themselves the challenge of attracting customers back from purely online retail to the physical environment of a department store. The refurbished interior of the historic Nihombashi Mitsukoshi store has been revealed in these new photographs, as the project in Tokyo is now finished.
Japanese architect Kengo Kuma was assigned to the project along with Lighting Planners Associates to redesign the space while respecting the history of building. Kuma's design philosophy flows in continuity with Japanese traditions, implementing structural solutions, applying technology and focusing on the importance of light and transparency. Kuma reinterprets history and traditional culture bringing it into the 21st century using modern technology and materials, including aluminium.
The concept for the renovation was building "a shining, white forest" that arches over shoppers, channeling them through the store as they browse the goods on sale. The forest is made from columns covered in dazzling white, leaf-shaped aluminium panels with a distinctive art deco influence, paying homage to the building's original architecture. Every column and each leaf was carefully installed to ensure a perfectly graduated effect across the whole installation.

Ensuring every minute detail of the trees was realistic was important in order to create a unique physical experience that would attract shoppers to the store who might otherwise be tempted to shop online.
"We have entered the age of online shopping and department stores have an uphill battle", said Lighting Planners Associates. "The real experience is being lost to the virtual shopping realm. Customers come here to experience something they can only access in this particular shopping environment."

At each store entrance, a specially designed ceiling greets customers as they enter. The tree canopy expands across the entire sales floor creating a beautiful graduation of light, filling the space with a sense of inviting brightness. The white aluminium panels covering the columns that make up the canopy, are cleverly backlit to maximise the design's effect, with each aluminium leaf lit by an individual light.
Banner image:Dezeen