House of Dior Seoul
A brand new Dior Boutique in Seoul. Nestled in the heart of the city’s elegant Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu district, the innovative and unique building has been designed by the French architect Christian de Portzamparc, winner of architecture’s prestigious Pritzker Prize. The interiors have been designed by the internationally renowned architect Peter Marino.
- In a decor made of wood, lacquers, leathers, amazing weaves and innovative melanges to excite the senses, Peter Marino has chosen to welcome visitors with a suspended sculpture by Korean artist Lee Bul. The staircase is conceived as an unfurling ribbon that guides shoppers to the women’s ready-to-wear collections, leather goods, shoes, jewelry, watches and perfumes. But also to the Dior Homme space, and to an art gallery with a private salon where photographs by Robert Polidori, among others, are on show. The top floor is home to the Café Dior by Pierre Hermé. The animation Movie Toile by Oyoram is placed around the staircase. These video works, conceived as portholes, reveal fabrics in movement, timepieces and Paris cityscapes. This new, full-sized location perfectly evokes the history of the House in the most contemporary of visions.
Portzamparc’s ambitious new creation is a sculptural and fluid structure that redefines the landscape it sits in. Famous all over the world for his buildings including the LVMH Tower in New York that challenge the status quo of urban architecture whilst still remaining in keeping with the grandeur of their locations, the outstanding House of Dior Boutique in Seoul is no exception. The voluminous folds of its bright white façade were inspired by the fabrics, shapes and movement of the toiles created in Dior’s Haute Couture Atelier at 30 Avenue Montaigne. Taking the form of twelve soaring resin and fiberglass sails that stand proud above the building’s base, itself decorated with Dior’s cannage motif, the four year process of design and construction required significant technical innovation.
The six-story Boutique will house the exclusive world of Dior including accessories, fine jewellery, watches, womenswear, shoes and menswear as well as a VIP Lounge, Gallery and Cafe Dior operated by Pierre Hermé. The Peter Marino designed interiors blend inspiration taken from Dior’s iconic Avenue Montaigne flagship in the shape of a feminine and glamorous aesthetic with the modern, delivering a timeless take on elegance that showcases the brand’s exquisite attention to detail. Alongside luxurious interior design, a carefully curated group of artworks by some of the world’s leading contemporary artists has been chosen to display throughout the store.
On entering the building between the folds of its towering white sails, two intricate benches of woven branches and leaves created by the French sculptress Claude Lalanne take pride of place. Above them hangs an installation made of crystal, glass and aluminum by the Korean artist Lee Bul, one of Asia’s leading female artists. Downstairs, with sleek architectural symmetry, luxe materials, and rich, tactile finishes, marks the new multi-dimensional retail space for Dior Homme. On the second and third levels, the carefully considered art collection continues with furniture designed by the French artists Hubert le Gall and Hélène de Saint Lager, table lamps by Véronique Rivemale, a piece by the American artist Rachel Hovnanian in the shoe salon and a ceiling covered in the beautiful liquescent mirrored glass decoration of the artist Rob Wynne.
An exclusive VIP Lounge and Gallery to be used for private appointments sit on the fourth floor, with a reception featuring six framed drawings by the Austrian artist Lucas Zallmann and a sculpture by Carmelo Tedeschi. Step through into the adjoining gallery to find a pair of Innerblow benches by Nendo, lamps by Curtis Jere and a console by Juan and Paloma Garrido, all of which lend themselves perfectly to this unique space. Upstairs, the rooftop Cafe Dior by French pastry chef Pierre Hermé, provides an elegant space to relax after shopping and the perfect place to discover the unique world of tastes, sensations and pleasures of the Maison Pierre Hermé Paris. The inspired menu will include a carefully selected range of macarons, chocolates, ice cream and cakes as well as a special selection of Pierre Hermé Paris drinks and will evolve and grow according to the seasons and the desires of Pierre Hermé.
From concept to design, experience to product, technical prowess to its extraordinary attention to detail, this unique and world leading new Boutique reflects the whole exclusive world of Dior from its heritage of timeless elegance to its modern essences of luxury and innovation.
Christian de Portzamparc:
I wanted the building to represent Dior and to reflect Christian Dior’s work. So I wanted the surfaces to flow, like the couturier’s soft, woven white cotton fabric. These surfaces, which soar into the sky and undulate as if in motion, crossed by a few lines, are made from long moulded fiber glass shells, fitted together with aircraft precision.
In Seoul, where the quadrangular buildings align with the avenue, and which are all occupied by leading international fashion labels, the building stands out like a large sculptural tribute to Dior, inviting everyone to step inside.
The entrance, where two shells come together, is a sort of modern lancet arch, in which two metal mesh surfaces cross in line with the clothing metaphor. Once inside, the customer makes a succession of discoveries – a feature typical of the interiors designed by Peter Marino.
The year is 2011. In his Paris studio, Christian de Portzamparc is undertaking his first research on the future form of the building. From sketches to modeling, the building’s draping gradually transforms to eventually end up with its final shape: eleven sails, frozen in soft and fluid movement. Transforming this sketch into an actual building will prove a real challenge. In the workshop, it’s time to experiment. For the scrollwork of the facade, a compound of resin, plaster and canvas is used, like the hull of a boat, reproducing a weaving pattern. Each sail requires the creation of a special and unique – and huge – mold.
The story of the boutique then continues in Seoul, where all the building components are manufactured and assembled in a close collaboration between the Korean teams working on site, those of Dior and those of the architect. When all the parts have been made, they need to be transported to the workshops where they are made up specifically for the future store. The resin shells that figure the draping measure up to twenty meters high, and necessitate unprecedented logistical efforts. Each, carefully loaded onto and fixed to a gigantic trailer, is transported in a special convoy and escorted by police cars. The highways and Seoul streets on which this titanic procession passes are even blocked for the occasion. And the operation is repeated for each of the facade’s eleven components. Upon arrival at the site, two cranes are required to lift them, raise them vertically and adjust them. It’s work that’s as colossal as it is careful and meticulous: the space between them must be precise and positioned to the letter, to give them the opportunity to move slightly. But also to reveal the subtle gap appearing in the seams of the building, which is ready to welcome its first visitors.
Today, in Seoul’s Chungdam Dong district, the new House of Dior boutique is opening its doors. We turn the spotlight on this striking building, designed by architect Christian de Portzamparc, and inspired by the House’s haute couture.
As architecture goes it’s unique of its genre, looking akin for all the world to a monumental dress. Its immaculate facade, all curves and counter-curves, resembles immense lengths of fabric, finely stitched together, erupting from a metal cane framework, like a Dior gift begging to be opened. The material used to make this unique form goes as far as replicating a woven aspect. It’s a veritable work of haute couture, with all that same exigency, and drawing its inspiration from the works of the House’s petites mains.
In conceiving this store, which opens its doors today in the center of Seoul, Christian de Portzamparc immersed himself in the world of Dior’s Parisian couture ateliers at 30 Avenue Montaigne. There, the busy petites mains manipulate the fabrics, solving technical quandaries, sewing and working on the toile that will give dresses and suits their signature volumes. “I thought about the movement of the fabrics, the weaving effects, and I created a facade that would explore these elements,” the architect explains. “This white softness is like the couturier’s toile when he’s at work. It has a sense of movement that plays with light. This sculptural suppleness was my starting point.” The House archives also inspired the building’s final form: the movement of those immense architectural sails is strongly reminiscent of the dresses Cyclone and Cocotte, designed by Christian Dior in 1948. With the House of Dior building , his two great passions, for haute couture and architecture, come together in a unique creation.
Project name: House of Dior
Location: 464 Apgujeong-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, Korea
Coordinates: 37.524857, 127.046786
Type: Shop / Store / Showroom
Program: Flagship Store, Gallery and Café
- Glass Fibre Reinforced Plastic (GFRP) façade – composed of self-standing 11 panels of 6m x 20m
- Anodized aluminum panel claddings
Building Area: 4,408.57 sqm
Construction Period: June 2013 – June 2015
Completion Year: June 2015
Client / Owner / Developer: Christian Dior SE
Architects: Christian de Portzamparc – – 1 Rue de l’Aude 75014 Paris, France
Local Architect / Project Manager: DPJ & Partners, Architecture
GFRP Façade Development: DPJ & Partners, Architecture Design Base
Structural Engineer: CS Structural Engineering
GFRP Façade Quality Control: Bureau Veritas
Lighting Designer: L’Observatoire International
Main Contractor: Kolon Global Corporation
GFRP Façade Sub-contractor: Design Base
Metal Façade & Curtain Wall Sub-contractor: Iljin Unisco
Text Description: © Courtesy of Christian de Portzamparc, Dior
Images: © Christian de Portzamparc, Dior, Kyungsub Shin, Nicolas Borel