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Naoto Fukasawa Amalgamates Past and Present for Issey Miyake Kyoto

Naoto Fukasawa outfits a traditional michiya into Issey Miyake’s first standalone store in Kyoto, offering a tranquil backdrop for the brand’s graphic and colourful clothing.

Naoto Fukasawa Amalgamates Past and Present for Issey Miyake Kyoto

Fashion design house Issey Miyake is known for its avant-garde, technology driven garments, particularly for its clothing range made from the processes of pleating and heating that allow metamorphosis of form, flexibility of motion, and ease of care. However, its new standalone store in Kyoto, housed in a 132-year-old traditional Japanese michiya (townhouse) with gently waving grey roof tiles and timber-latticed facade, speaks more of tradition than progressiveness.

But such juxtaposition makes the encounter all the more unique. After all, history forms the basis of new invention. Designed by Naoto Fukasawa, the interior is awash in a mix of charcoal grey plaster, created by mixing black sumi pigment into the plaster, in order to create an ambience of sophisticated calm. Much trial and error was conducted with Kyoto artisans to create the ideal grey-scale colour balance.  

The front of the two-storey main building contains the retail space, where the interior’s inky floor and walls form a neutral foil to the brand’s colourful clothing and bags. Much of the existing timber structure was retained, with some new components added for reinforcement and the slant of the originally steep staircase adjusted for customers’ comfort.

At the back of the store through large picture-frame windows, customers are beckoned to a smaller building, accessed by treading over ashen tiles in a sea of pebbles. Here, customers are invited to an extended experience in a gallery, where changing exhibitions showcase Japanese traditional craftsmanship, culture and Issey Miyake’s clothing research.

This standalone structure used to be the kura (storehouse) of the michiya. Formerly two storeys, the floors of the second storey were removed to create a lofty interior, which is well suited as an exhibition space. When the shop opened in March this year, Issey Miyake’s third series of its Ikko Tanaka Issey Miyake collection was being showcased. Its bright, saturated colours hung on mannequins and on the wall as prints contrasted with the white walls and cement flooring, framed by traditional two-panel doors.

While a louder intervention would have reflected the brand more outwardly, this more subtle approach fittingly reflects its locale. Fukasawa’s intention was to create a tranquil space where customers can feel the spirit and layers of time that the building has lived through, rather than distract from this encounter with a more adventurous design.


Photography: Masaya Yoshimura © Issey Miyake Inc.

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