What do you get when you ask the insanely prolific Japanese design firm Nendo to redesign a department store? The new Siam Discovery, a five-story retail complex in Bangkok that Nendo has turned into a multiverse of inventive themed spaces, each more design porn-y than the last.
The breadth of invention in the new Siam Discovery is astounding. There’s a women’s footwear department that looks like a set from the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey, in which countless circular marble plinths are arrayed in a white-and-gray showroom (on which the occasional high heel is displayed, of course). Men’s footwear is displayed in a similar room that uses angular boxes of maple and oak as stands. But these seem to defy gravity, as if they’re floating up to the ceiling, because the ceiling is also embedded with these boxes. There’s a showroom made up of white wireframes, and another which looks like a laboratory, filled with beakers, flasks, and test tubes.
If it sounds all over the place, it’s because it is. Still, there was method to Nendo’s madness. The original Siam Discovery space was deep, dark, and unwelcoming, with a narrow façade that resulted in a poor customer flow. Nendo’s new design opened up Siam Discovery by turning the first floor of the building into a long, open canyon of circular atriums, which draw customers deeper into the store, and up the escalator to other floors. Meanwhile, a gallery of 220 frame-shaped boxes containing both video monitors and store merchandise serves as a store directory on this first floor, giving visitors an often real-time view of what awaits on other floors.
It’s hard to summarize a project like this, but we’ll try: if you could walk around in the brain of Oki Sato himself, we think it would probably be a lot like this. If you’re ever in Thailand, you can visit Siam Discovery here.
All Photos: via Nendo