Haute couture meets haute architecture in Tokyo's Ginza shopping district. “Ginza is a hotbed of architectural styles,” says Jonathan Speirs, principal of Speirs and Major Associates (SAM), the firm behind the lighting at Armani Ginza. “The architectural statement is as important as the fashion statement.”

The principal design motif of the project—bamboo stalks and leaves—is the result of Giorgio Armani's direct involvement. The bamboo element, represented as a “forest in silhouette,” is incorporated over the entire length and width of the 12-story façade. Because fixtures could not be attached to the exterior of the façade above the fourth floor, SAM devised a system—a sectional arrangement of glass curtain wall, lighting element, and blackout shades. The stalks are composed of fluorescent and cold cathode tubes, while the elliptical-shaped bamboo leaf utilizes 150 light-emitting diodes.

The bamboo motif continues in the interior spaces as the ceiling element for the first three floors, which are devoted to the Giorgio Armani line, and as the pattern on the gold mesh glass panels that line the stairs from the ninth-floor restaurant up to the 11th-floor private bar called Privé. The Emporio Armani line is housed in two below-grade floors and caters to a younger clientele. The distinguishing feature of the Emporio Armani space is a wrapper of black steel panels with staggered laser-cuts each 8mm thick. Color temperature changes from cool on the lower retail floors to warm on the upper floors, where golden tones become more prominent.

Like a Japanese paper lantern whose beauty lies in its simplicity, the success of Armani Ginza is the lighting's integration with the architecture to convey a series of distinct experiences that culminate in a unified whole.

Jury Comments
Kathy Abernathy: I fully believe that a great lighting design tells a story and this is a great one! The thought and collaboration put into this project tell it all.

Randy Burkett: A unique and sophisticated revelation of the building's exterior façade. The design continuity between exterior and interior lighting heightens the visual experience.

David Ziolkowski: Dark, specular room finishes allow the light patterns and merchandise to become the stars of the space.

Location: Tokyo
Client: Giorgio Armani SpA, Milan
Architect and Interior Designer: Studio Fuksas, Rome
Lighting Designer: Speirs and Major Associates, Edinburgh, Scotland, and London
Photographer: Nakasa & Partners, Tokyo
Project Size: 86,000 square feet
Manufacturers: Color Kinetics, Endo Lighting, Lucent Lighting, Lutron, Osram, Philips