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Frank Gehry-designed new Louis Vuitton Maison in Seoul is a floating luminescent sculpture

November 28, 2019

The Louis Vuitton Maison Seoul by architects Frank Gehry and Peter Marino has recently opened in the South Korean capital. Celebrating Korean heritage and culture, the design puts in place a curved glass facade, perched atop a white cubic mass.

Situated in the Cheongdam-dong neighborhood of the Gangnam district, the building is Gehry’s first venture in South Korea. Known for his famous collaboration with the brand on the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, the brand’s art museum and cultural centre, Frank Gehry has combined his signature fluid architecture with LV’s strong connection with the South Korean capital.

The starchitect partnered with American architect Peter Marino, known for his work with luxury clothing brands, to design the interiors of the project. Gehry has referenced not only the Paris-based Louis Vuitton cultural museum but also historical Korean architecture “such as the Hwaseong Fortress, dating back to the 18th century, as well as the swooping movements and white costumes of the Dongnae Hakchum”.

“What struck me when I first visited Seoul nearly 25 years ago, was the relationship between the architecture and the natural landscape. I still remember clearly the powerful impressions I had stepping up from the garden of Jongmyo Shrine […] I am delighted to have designed Louis Vuitton Maison Seoul, reflecting the traditional values of the Korean culture.” – Frank Gehry

Sited on the existing site of the original Louis Vuitton store, the structure’s front is entirely covered by glass, creating some sort of a “high zig-zagging vestibule and window, leading up to a series of enclosed terraces and culminating in waves of louvered glass panels”. Perched atop a base of white stone, the structure reflects a sense of lightness, as if almost floating above the ground. The building is connected through a “floating staircase”. While the first floor included men’s and women’s section, the third floor “houses a private space and an enclosed terrace that can be used for private dinner events as well as exclusive appointments.

“The interior spaces were designed with a Miesian rigor to more strongly emphasize the billowing energetic sculptural quality of Gehry’s exterior. The interior stone flows in from the exterior. The dynamism of the rectangular volumes cleanly contrast with the baroque glass shields of the building.” – Peter Marino.

The glass-topped upper floor will host Espace Louis Vuitton Seoul, an exhibition space, that is showcasing eight emblematic sculptures of Giacometti for its first exposition. Curated by Peter Marino, the many artworks and furniture presented in the store, generate a unique experience where visitors can shop surrounded by art, on all five floors. Some of these commissions featured in the building, include artworks by Mark Hagan, Marcello Lo Guidice, Brendan Smith, Luigi Mainolfi, Martin Kline, Harmony Hammonds, Bernard Aubertin, and Anselm Reyle, that create bright fields of colour strategically placed along the staircase and throughout the Maison.

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