Client: Fast Retailing Co., LTD (UNIQLO)
Type: Retail
Location: Osaka, Japan
Size: 34,000 SF
Design: 2004
Project Architect: Keisuke Nibe
Consultants: Local Architect: MILLS Architects studio (Keita Kagitani + Sawako Inoue)
Structure/MEP Engineering and Construction: SHIMIZU Corporation
Photography: Courtesy of LOT-EK

The new flagship store for the Japanese casual clothing company occupies a 5 stories building on the main shopping street in Shinsaibashi, Osaka. The design is based on the company’s logo and slogan: Unique Clothing Warehouse.
The building is treated like a sectioned warehouse. The long, mute side of the building is lined with metal mesh, backlit by neon tubes, and inscribed with a blow up of the company’s logo. The front of the building is cut back 7 feet to create a piazza effect along the overcrowded pedestrian street. The resulting section-like elevation is simply glazed to open up the warehouse enhancing public gaze and access.
As a symbol of the continuous merchandise replenishment, a container inscribed with the company’s logo floats over the glass façade and serves as entrance canopy and as a 3D eye-catcher. The container becomes an icon for UNIQLO and for its future stores – as a result, shipping containers, also designed by LOT-EK, have been used by UNIQLO in 2006 as pop-up shops to promote the launch of the brand in the US and the new flagship store in New York.
The interior of the store functions as a self-service clothing warehouse. The store has no stock room since the stockroom is the store itself. On all 5 floors stacks of clothing surround the customers in incessant repetitions. The parallel pattern of the vertical and horizontal stacks of colorful clothes, that lines the walls and the aisles of the stores, inspired the geometry of the two single elements that describe the interior. Cream-stained concrete floors are scored by parallel stripes of the company’s red and parallel ceiling fins mirror the same pattern above head.
The floor and ceiling color and pattern create a light rhythmic background to the merchandise overload. The parallel repetition of the ceiling fins hides and displays all technical systems hanging from the ceiling and distributes bright fluorescent and halogen light uniformly throughout the space.