Sulwhasoo Flagship Store
Lanterns lighting the way towards Asian wisdom and holistic beauty embody the philosophy and value of Sulwhasoo. The building was designed by Korean architect IROJE and built in 2003. Celebrating the roots of the brand, Neri&Hu wanted to develop a concept with strong connections to Asian culture and traditions, ultimately allowing customers to discover the wealth of Asian wisdom that underpins the Sulwhasoz ethos.
The Sulwhasoo Flagship Store is a signature space that gathers the essence of Asian beauty. Like a lantern lighting the way through the dark, Sulwhasoo’s Flagship Store radiates with the beauty of Asian wisdom. Experience the ideal of truly holistic care, the perfect balance of inner and outer beauty.
“We wanted to create a flagship store that could embody the Asian culture and transmit its three core concepts: identity, journey and memory. The first element to inspire us was the lantern, from which we built a space to attract passers-by, inviting them to enter and savour an alternative experience of consumption. The brass walls are articulated in a series of meshes to form a street that leads to a journey towards the store’s products.” – Neri&Hu
The intricate gold brass gracefully covers both the exterior and interior of the building, casting a network of light. It was the flagship store’s design concept—the lantern, that created such effect. As lanterns light the way in darkness, the flagship store shows the way towards Asian wisdom and holistic beauty.
The store was designed by internationally renowned Asian architects, Neri & Hu. They are well recognized not just in architecture but also for furniture design. The practice was selected by I.D. Magazine as one of the 40 designers globally who deserve more attention and as the 2011 INSIDE Festival Overall Winner. They were also named by Maison & Objet as Asia’s Designer of the Year 2015.
Through the collaboration with Neri & Hu, who communicate with the world in a balanced, harmonious way, Sulwhasoo delivers its brand philosophy and value, as well as the holistic beauty of harmony and wisdom.
The literal and mythological meaning of the lantern is highly significant throughout Asian history—it leads you through the dark, showing you the way and indicating the beginning and end of a journey. Neri&Hu’s radical transformation of an existing five storey building in Seoul, South Korea, into a grand flagship store for leading Asian skincare brand Sulwhasoo is inspired by these notions of the lantern.
The concept originates from three key points that were defined at the very start of the project – Identity, Journey and Memory. Neri&Hu aspired to create a space that appeals to all the senses, that captures the customer immediately as they approach the building, creates an experience that continues to unfold during the journey through the store, and leaves a strong impression with visitors long after they have left.
This is what led to the lantern concept, where a continuous brass structure is the element ties the whole store together, guiding customers while they explore the full extent of the space.
In creating a series of voids and openings in the building, visitors fully experience the structure as it moves through the space and envelops the different programs. Mirror volumes are inserted into a wooden landscape to reflect and amplify the seemingly endless structure.
The delicate structure rests upon a solid ground of wide timber floor boards that occasionally rises up to form wooden counters with inserted solid stone blocks, on top of which Sulwhasoo’s products are displayed as precious objects. While it is primarily a guiding mechanism, the lantern structure is also a source of light—hanging within it are custom light fixtures that turn the structure into the main attribute to frame and highlight the products on display.
Navigating through the five storeys, customers experience changes in atmosphere. The basement spa with its dark brick walls, earthy grey stone treatment rooms and warm crafted wood floors has a sense of intimacy and shelter for visitors. Moving up the building, the material palette becomes lighter and more open, inviting visitors to interact with the space, culminating finally in a roof terrace with its free-flowing brass structure canopy that frames vast views of the surrounding city.
The journey is a constant contradiction between two counterparts: enclosed to open, dark to light, delicate to massive.The holistic approach to the lantern concept—from space-making to lighting to display to signage—gives visitors a sense of endless intrigue and urges them to explore the spaces and products with passion and delight.
Project name: Sulwhasoo Flagship Store
Location: 18 Dosan-daero 45-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Coordinates: 37.523673, 127.035459
Type: Store / Shop / Showroom / Retail, SPA Interior
Project Area: 1,949 sqm
Completion Date/Year: 2016
Visit Sulwhasoo’s website: here
Client / Owner / Developer: AMORE Pacific Group
Interior Designer: Neri&Hu – 88 yuqing road shanghai china 200030
Principal: Lyndon Neri & Rossana Hu
Associate: Anne-Charlotte Wiklander
- Arne Jacobsen, Carl Hansen, Classicon, Dela Espada, E15, Flos, Fritz Hansen, Gandia Blasco, Kvadrat, Labo, Mattiazzi, Parachilna, Roll&Hill, Serge Mouille, Stellar works, VITRA, Viabizzuno, Vola
Design Team: Sela Lim, Yinan Li, Kailun Sun
Senior Associate – Product Design: Brian Lo
Associate – Product Design: Nicolas Fardet
Senior Associate – Graphic Design: Christine Neri
Graphic Designers: Haiou Xin, Litien Poeng
Text Description: © Courtesy of Neri&Hu, Sulwhasoo
Images: © Neri&Hu, Pedro Pegenaute