© 2012, by Louis Vuitton

In today’s competitive world, many individuals and companies seek to stand out from their peers. One of the ways to become outstanding amongst strong competitors include commissions of high profile architects to build offices, residence etc. This new age of high profile architecture is using architecture as a branding tool.The first part of a three-part series on Architecture as Branding views the topic in terms of retail architecture.

Aside from superior craftsmanship, various collaborations with prominent artists and designers such as Yayoi Kusama and Takashi Murakami to name a few, Louis Vuitton, one of the leading international fashion houses has a reputation as one of the most influential trendsetter in retail architecture.

Besides the brand’s growing e-commerce business, 460 and more stores globally, the fashion house had also launched 16 Maisons (the latest in Shanghai, China). It is not called a “store” but a “maison” (translated to “house” in french) simply because it is more than just a store, the Maisons are “Reflecting Louis Vuitton’s art-de-vivre and savoir-faire, conceived as the home of a collector… opportunities to discover new and exciting experiences.”

Opened in 2011 in Singapore, the first Louis Vuitton Maison in South East Asia is located at Marina Bay Sands. According to representatives from Louis Vuitton, it is inspired by travellers with a nautical spirit. Designed by prolific architects Peter Marino and Moshe Safdie, the former with an extensive portfolio in retail architecture, the architecture of this Maison sits on an island. With a striking façade, it is built using glass and steel structure. Using architecture to establish the presence of the brand in Singapore and South East Asia, the architecture of this Maison extends to the interior, to include a grand 11 metres ceiling height in the Women’s Universe area.

For an aerial view of the Louis Vuitton Island Maison, have a look at the video:


© 2012, by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei

The twelfth commission for the annual summer Pavilion at Serpentine Gallery in London (June 1st – October 14th, 2012) is designed by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei. For the first time, the entire interior is made of cork and can hold up to 200 people. Above the Pavilion’s round steel roof lays a thin layer of water (25mm) that reflects the surroundings and the changes in the skyline.

The design is a response to the previous pavilions like from Frank Gehry and SANAA. This year, the architects and artist gave a new life to the past memories of former pavilions, by constructing on site and utilizing ghosts of each pavilion to form what is there today. Each pavilion from year 2000 to 2012 is given a column within the space of the pavilion, with each post extruding out of the foundation and the twelfth column as a part of this commission.