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Design Concept for a Japanese Retail Environment

Much of what distinguishes Japanese style is present in the proportions of Japanese architecture and the serenity and simplicity of the Japanese garden. These, together with other traditional Japanese design elements, became the guiding principles in the development of this design concept.

For the purposes of demonstration the concept is applied to a floor area of approximately 800 square feet (72 square metres) laid out in a 28' x 28' square (8.5m x 8.5m). Designed with a view to maximum flexibility, the concept can be altered to fit infinite retail space variations.

The store is divided into two sections with a traditional moon window preserving the open plan organic feel of the space. The front half of the retail space displays the smaller stereo products, the back half presents the home cinema systems and affords a space for customer closure.

The concept is presented over two main drawings and a floorplan. The first main drawing shows the whole floor area and clearly illustrates the front half of the store. The second drawing details the rear section of the store.

Clients enter through a central door in the south-east external glass wall. Their first experience is to encounter a natural garden feature standing within an enclosure. Their gaze is drawn beyond the garden through the moon window to the space beyond and they are drawn into the store.

Main Drawing #1 - Whole floor area

japanese design drawings

Both the proportions of the garden enclosure and the open topped dividing wall suggest a Japanese location. The living bamboo in the garden and the bamboo-latticed moon window confirm the feeling. The walkways are constructed from reclaimed antique timbers that lend an element of sabi (the venerable quality of the patina of age) to Nakamichi’s wabi (the beauty inherent in the fresh and the new).

design drawings

Two distinct demonstration and display areas co-exist with the garden, their areas defined by black tatami mats. Inspired by the Edo period these unusual mats provide sound damping for optimum demonstration of audio while quietly underscoring the traditional Japanese influence of the design. Simple benches line the garden enclosure where clients sit to listen to the product under the tranquil influence of the garden.

Walls throughout are covered with an off-white natural canvas to augment sound damping and to create texture and contrast between the elements of the black wooden architectural framework. Movement around the store is encouraged by the orientation of the wide floorboards and whichever path the client chooses they are led to the second half of the store.

In the rear section of the store the space is dedicated largely to the home cinema systems.

The back half of the store is divided into three sections; two demonstration and display areas and the customer closure area.

Main Drawing #2 - Rear area of the store

japanese design drawings

Both demonstration and display areas are defined by black tatami mats, unifying the theme and providing sound damping.

Casual seating ensures client relaxation during the demonstration process. The processor unit and the subwoofer system rest on a strip of slate that extends along the base of the back wall. This ensures optimum acoustic performance from these crucial units.

Each of the four speaker columns is shadowed by a decorative fabric display rack. This echoes the style of ancient Japanese dress and provides again the balance of sabi with wabi.

loudspeaker             loudspeaker

In the smaller stores the back wall of this area will be decorated with contemporary Japanese artwork, in the larger stores it will house a sliding door that gives access to the enclosed sound room.

The right-hand demonstration and display area is separated from the customer closure area by a continuous dwarf wall and flanked on a further two sides by the structural walls of the store. This creates a more enclosed stage for the flagship products. Sharing the practical slate strip and the decorative fabric display racks with its sister, this area differs from her by offering more opulent client seating.


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