On 30 October 2019, Louis Vuitton opened its second flagship boutique in Seoul. The Louis Vuitton Maison Seoul marks a spectacular new collaboration with celebrated architect Frank Gehry, whose curved-glass storefront, perched on the prestigious Cheongdam-dong in the Gangnam district. The unique facade marks Frank Gehry’s first creation in South Korea—and fourth throughout Asia—and displays a clear connection with the shape of the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris. It is also a collaboration with architect Peter Marino, who beautifies and decors the interiors with Louis Vuitton Objets Nomades.
In imagining his design, Frank Gehry chose to reference not only the shape of the existing Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris but was also inspired by elements of historical Korean architecture such as the Hwaseong Fortress, dating back to the 18th Century, as well as the elegant movements and white costumes of the Dongnae Hakchum (crane dance).
Frank Gehry said, “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.” adding “I am delighted to have designed Louis Vuitton Maison Seoul, reflecting the traditional values of the Korean culture.”
Inside, the five floors are dedicated to a complete offering of the different universes and collections. Architect Peter Marino has used the vast volumes to create contrasting spaces, from an entrance hall reaching twelve metres high, to more intimate lounges, using different textures of stone to give the impression of niches hewn from within. “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”, says Peter Marino. The inner architecture gives a sense of openness, with an airy “floating” staircase connecting all floors.
The basement floor presents Louis Vuitton’s Men’s universe of ready-to-wear, leather goods, shoes, travel items and formal wear in a calm, bright space.
Meanwhile, the glass vestibule on the first floor opens directly onto a space devoted to Women’s collections, including ready-to-wear, leather goods, accessories, fragrances, Fine Jewellery collections including B Blossom and watches.
Smaller, private salons around the main atrium create an intimate shopping experience, a feeling carried through the second floor and onto the third floor which houses a private space and an enclosed terrace that can be used for intimate dinners and events as well as exclusive appointments.
The opening of Louis Vuitton Maison Seoul marks a further link in the strong connection between the House and Korean culture. The very first store was opened in Seoul in 1991, with a first global store following in Cheongdam in 2000. Exhibitions and work by Korean artists have been featured at the Espace Louis Vuitton, with the House also holding major events in Seoul. In 2017, the landmark Volez Voguez Voyagez exhibition dedicated to Louis Vuitton’s heritage and history opened at the DDP, with an additional « Korea Room ». 2019 also sees the publication of the Louis Vuitton Travel Book dedicated to Seoul, by artistic duo Icinori.