All in the family
Architecture “is in the family,” says Dominic Leong of Leong Leong, the bi-coastal design office behind the American Pavilion of the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale. He and his brother Christopher grew up in Napa Valley, with an architect father—an experience that led them each to architecture careers: Christopher at SHoP Architects and Dominic at Bernard Tschumi and later his own Para-Project. It wasn’t long before they joined forces in 2009, embarking on their first project together as Leong Leong: the 3.1 Phillip Lim flagship in Seoul.
“The way that Phillip approaches clothes has a lot to do with texture and material,” says Chris, a sentiment the firm captured by dividing the retail space into intimate spaces that frame the clothing in tactile materials, creating a narrative of atmospheres for unexpected and curious encounters: custom wallpaper by artist Wook Kim inspired by ancient Korean ceramics; different ambiences of light and mirrored surfaces; leather herringbone tiles; brass stars; and an oak floor that gradually transitions through a gradient of grey tones.
“I think primarily retail is about experience,” says Chris, noting the new competition old-fashioned brick-and-mortar stores have with online shopping. The boutique’s exterior of pillow-like white concrete tiles, a unique tactile experience for clients before they even step inside, does away with the antiquated notion of brick-and-mortar altogether.