It’s like walking through a tight web of golden threads which spread the light, provide shade and – at the same time – create a cocoon-like environment. The entire design of this five-storey building, located in the South Korean capital of Seoul, is built around the metaphor of a lantern showing the path to follow, creating light in the dark, leading to a destination and attracting passers-by into the store.
Originally designed by Korean architect IROJE in 2003, the building was later completely transformed by designers Neri&Hu who – with delicateness and sensitivity in equal measure – created a profoundly Asian environment packed with contrast between closed-off and open spaces, between light and dark, between fragility and solidity.
The designers began by focusing on three fundamental concepts: identity, travel and memory. The identity of the store stems from walls made from sleek brass bars which lead customers on a journey that engages all the senses as they discover Sulwhasoo products. The experience helps to provoke thoughts and memories that will remain in the minds of the customers even after they leave the store. The idea of the infinite, the foundations for which are laid by the repetitive nature of the bars, is further accentuated by reflective walls and doors and round mirrors which transform the space into an endless passage.
Contrasting with the lightness are the solid counters made from wood and stone displaying the products, which resemble precious jewels illuminated by bespoke lighting. The vibe changes on each floor: the basement spa features dark brick walls, while the grey stone of the treatment areas contrasts with the warm wooden floor. The higher you go, the more acute the feeling of lightness becomes, with the rooftop terrace providing a place for visitors to relax on white armchairs and admire the city from on high – or the heavens from below.
Interior Architect & Interior Designer: Neri&Hu Design and Research Office
Architectural Fixtures & Fittings: Vola, Viabizzuno
Lighting: Flos, Parachilna, Roll&Hill, Serge Mouille, Vitra; on design: Viabizzuno
Interiors Furniture: Custom by Furniture Labo, Carl Hansen, Arne Jacobsen, Mattiazzi, Dela Espada, Classicon, E15, Fritz Hansen, Stellar works
Interiors Fabrics: Kvadrat
Accessories: Custom by Kesson, Custom by Viabizzuno
Exterior Furniture: Custom by Furniture Labo, Gandia Blasco, Stellar Works
Photo: © Pedro Pegenaute