【LOUIS VUITTON GINZA NAMIKI】Design: AS, Peter Marino Architect

Rippling waves sparkle in the middle of Ginza [Part 2]


AS, Peter Marino Architect


Louis Vuitton Namiki facade

Jun Aoki has designed a number of Louis Vuitton stores in Japan and overseas.  

The one I am going to introduce this time is his 12th Louis Vuitton store and the 4th one in Ginza.

For each project, he has created an architecture that matches its location.

Let’s look at the newest Louis Vuitton store he has created in Ginza this time.

About me

Yasuo Nakamaru

Yasuo Nakamaru

Registered Architect and National Government Licensed Guide Interpreter.
Worked at an architectural firm for 38years and designed domestic works and overseas works in Japan, US, UK, China, etc.

Favorite Buildings: National Gallary of East Wing by I.M.Pei in the US, Kimbell Art Museum by L.Kahn in the US, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art by SANAA in Japan

Favorite Things: Playing bass guitar, Jazz Music

Inspired by Impressionism painting

We will take a look at the new Louis Vuitton store, which was reconstructed from the previous Ginza Namiki store.

The former building was designed in an image of a brick building that was a symbol of the Ginza area during the Meiji era (1868-1912).

But as for the new building, it was inspired by the Edo period (1603-1867), when Ginza was a waterfront area.

The exterior of the building has a striking image that you won’t forget once you see it. It is a representation of a water pillar.

The inspiration came from a famous Impressionism painting “La Grenouillere.” Painted by Monet in 1869.
The scenery in the painting is a bathing place on the banks of the Seine located in the suburbs of Paris.
This is known as an epoch-making painting that marked the beginning of Impressionism.

The shimmering surface of the water in the painting is portrayed by placing various shades of paint on the canvas. This technique stimulated Aoki’s inspiration.
Colors appear to be mixed on canvas by placing different colors in place rather than mixing them.

It is a major characteristic of Impressionism painting called “divided brushstroke.”

This technique makes it possible to create more bright and luminous paintings.
For Impressionism painters, how to paint was a major concern, rather than what to paint.

How the Water Pillar was created

How Aoki embodied the inspiration he found from Monet’s painting?
In his other works, he uses direct images of his inspirations such as a stack of suitcases or a sailing boat.

Louis Vuitton Omotesando @haruka.soga

Louis Vuitton Maison Osaka Midosuji

This time, however, the key was how to represent the surface of the water by using colors and curves of exterior walls.

“Dichroic coating” (multi-layer metal film coating) was selected to create its color. The film-type materials are usually used for interior decoration or as display materials, not as building materials.

What were the challenges and difficulties to use them for large-scale dichroic coating for the first time?


To represent the shimmering water surface, the glass panels on the outside were installed without metal frames, so that they create a continuous wall surface.

Glass panels are installed on the interior side as well. The glass is covered with gradation film, which creates the appearance of narrow oval windows that you can see on its exterior.

Although the color and appearance of the glass is controlled by coatings and films, the glass itself has no color.

The water surface was completed with curvy glass walls, with 50 mm of both convexity and concavity and 100mm in total.

These products were manufactured in China. In addition to the difficulties in communicating, instructing, and inspecting the manufacturing process, the on-site installation was conducted in the narrow space in Ginza, where buildings are lining along the street.

There must have been many difficulties working in the very narrow space between the scaffoldings and the building. 

When I visited there the other day, the display of the show window across the street looked like some kind of collaborative work with the exterior wall of the Louis Vuitton store.

There is another La Grenouillere

There is another painting named La Grenoillere by another famous painter.

This is “La Grenouillere” by Renoir (1869).

It is well known that Monet and Renoir were close friends. When they were both unknown painters in their 20s, they painted the scenery side by side on the banks of the Seine.


Comparing those two paintings, they are painted in different ways and give different impressions, although the angles are almost the same.

From my perspective, Monet’s version looks as if the surface of the water is swaying and glowing, while Renoir portrayed the sparkling water surface by placing more colors on its canvas.


Knowing that Aoki’s inspiration for this Louis Vuitton store came from Monet’s La Grenouillere, it seems to me that the seascape Hiroshi Naito portrayed on the exterior of the Mikimoto Main Store in Ginza might be Renoir’s La Grenouillere.


As I mentioned earlier, the Impressionists use the pointillism technique without mixing paints to express the brightness of colors.
Naito tried to portray the shimmering surface of the water using small glass pieces, just like putting paints on its façade.

Looking at buildings appeared in video

Other than still images, it may be interesting to look at buildings that appeared in video clips.

As you walk around this Louis Vuitton store, you will see the reflected light on its curved glass exterior, which makes the exterior wall look as if the water surface sways slowly.

And for Naito’s Mikimoto building, you can clearly see that the small glass pieces portray the water surface sparkling and shining moment by moment.

The best time zone to appreciate Mikimoto’s sparkling facade is midmorning when the sun is shining.

Exterior cleaning work-in-progress with hanging ropes.
It’s a bit surreal and interesting to see workers go down on the shimmering picturesque façade using ropes.

For your information, the café with the unique interior on the top floor is a very nice place to stop by.

I enjoyed a cup of coffee and their luxurious atmosphere.

Thank you for reading to the end.
I will continue to look for some more attractive buildings.

Louis Vuitton Ginza Namiki Dori

7-6-1 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0061

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