June 17, 2009
Originally published in Act Locally

At the opposite end of the spectrum from North American big-box stores are the conceptually driven and exquisitely realized retail designs of Masamichi Katayama.

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  Every store—–even for the same brand—–requires a unique approach. The Los Angeles Bape store has been designed to be spotted from the car.
    Every store—–even for the same brand—–requires a unique approach. The Los Angeles Bape store has been designed to be spotted from the car.
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  For the A.P.C. store in Tokyo, Wonderwall retained the original garage space and framed a new courtyard garden with a steel frame.
    For the A.P.C. store in Tokyo, Wonderwall retained the original garage space and framed a new courtyard garden with a steel frame.
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  At the 100% Chocolate Café the traditional shape of chocolate bars suspended from above creates the witty reverse relief of a classically coffered ceiling.
    At the 100% Chocolate Café the traditional shape of chocolate bars suspended from above creates the witty reverse relief of a classically coffered ceiling.
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  Recently Katayama redesigned Colette in Paris.
    Recently Katayama redesigned Colette in Paris.
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Every store—–even for the same brand—–requires a unique approach. The Los Angeles Bape store has been designed to be spotted from the car.
Every store—–even for the same brand—–requires a unique approach. The Los Angeles Bape store has been designed to be spotted from the car.

Masamichi Katayama and his Tokyo-based firm, Wonderwall Inc., create stores with a focus on entertainment and experience—–not just dollars per square foot. Katayama is best known for the 45 (and counting) stores that he’s designed for the famed hip-hop clothing line A Bathing Ape (Bape), but Wonderwall’s client list also includes Dean & DeLuca, Uniqlo, and Meiji Seika, the Hershey’s chocolate of Japan. Even among the jewel-box boutiques and starchitect-designed flagships of Tokyo’s retail-crazed Aoyama and Daikanyama districts, Katayama’s interiors stand out. Their details are woven seamlessly into larger spatial narratives, and they’re seasoned with the designer’s trademark playfulness and penchant for experiential surprise.

Dwell visited Katayama in his Ebisu studio, where we discussed the delicate balance of comfort and challenge, context and concept, that defines Wonderwall’s popular style.

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