Ginza Maison Hermès’ Show Windows
Top: For its hundredth show window display, Ginza Maison Hermès called on product designer Shigeki Fujishiro. The result, entitled Game, was displayed through March 13, 2018, bringing a playful spirit to the two large windows making up the “Hermès Theater” on Harumi Avenue. Hermès’ theme for 2018, “Let’s Play!,” was conveyed with analog games in which balls tumbled and twirled around and around through a display of belts, sneakers, gloves, scarves, and other Hermès products. Below: The sixteen small windows facing Sony Street featured motifs inspired by traditional Japanese games and toys, like tops and Daruma-otoshi towers. © Satoshi Asakawa / Courtesy of Hermès Japon
“Like no other.” Ginza Maison Hermès, located at the bustling Sukiyabashi crossing in Ginza, Tokyo, is unique even among the other Hermès boutiques in Japan and around the world. Its contemporary “glass block” design by Italian architect Renzo Piano sets it apart, as does “Le Studio,” the mini-theater on the top floor; “Le Forum,” the gallery hosting exhibitions by a huge variety of artists; and, of course, its famous show windows.
Since Ginza Maison Hermès opened for business in 2001, a new design has graced its show windows every two months. Up-and-coming creators both inside and outside Japan have been called on to create a street presence which is constantly changing but never fails to catch the eye of those passing by outside.
Ginza Maison Hermès’ front entrance on Harumi Avenue is flanked on both sides by two enormous windows totaling seven square meters in size. The sides of the building feature 16 smaller windows, each as large as one of the blocks of glass in the facade. In preparing designs for these windows, all creators are given just two rules: Hermès products must be the star, and their design must represent Hermès’ theme for that year.
So far, one hundred bespoke displays have presented the “Now” of Hermès and Ginza, Tokyo to the world. Jasper Morrison, Studio Formafantasma, Massimo Bartolini, and Patricia Ulquiorra... the list of those who have designed premium show window displays Ginza Maison Hermès reads like a Who’s Who of international creators.
Top: “Souffle,” a display by Tokujin Yoshioka (November 19, 2009–January 19, 2009). Scarves flutter in the titular “sigh,” expressing Hermès’ theme for 2009, “The Beautiful Getaway,” with extreme simplicity. Below: Flower artist Makoto Azuma’s display, “Jardin du Temps (Garden of Time)” (November 14, 2012–January 22, 2013). A tiny greenhouse home to dozens of species of plants embodying “The Gift of Time” (Hermès’ theme for 2012). © Satoshi Asakawa / Courtesy of Hermès Japon
Countless creators from countless media and genres have been represented in the Ginza Maison Hermès show windows: artists, product designers, photographers, flower designers, and more. Design critic Alice Lawson called Ginza Maison Hermès’ windows both a “retrospective of early twenty-first century design” and an “ongoing survey of contemporary Japanese design.” Indeed, the first hundred windows included creations from such renowned figures of the Japanese design world as Tokujin Yoshioka, Naoto Fukasawa, Kenya Hara, and nendo.
In 2004, Hermès’ theme was “Colors and Fantasy,” and Yoshioka’s creation “Souffle” was a highlight. Combining videos of woman exhaling with iconic Hermès scarves fluttering in the “breeze,” the work received high praise and attention for its “fantastical” imagery. When Hermès’ theme was “The Beautiful Getaway” in 2009, Yoshioka produced another work on the theme, inviting passers-by to escape into another world.
Top: Mai Miyake’s “Come Rain or Shine” (May 17–July 17, 2007). The carp streamer on the scroll hanging in the left show window becomes a dragon over the rooftops on the right. Hermès’ theme for this year was “Shall We Dance?” Below: Haruka Kojin’s “Within the Eye’s Lens” (September 16–November 17, 2010) expresses that year’s theme, “Tales to Be Told” with an array of lenses in different sizes, distorting the view of the Hermès products behind them to thought-provoking effect. © Satoshi Asakawa / Courtesy of Hermès Japon
Spotlighting Japan’s young designers is another area where the Ginza Maison Hermès show windows lead. Product designer Shigeki Fujishiro, who created the commemorative 100th window; Groovisions, whose window display led to later work on Hermès products; Haruka Kojin, whose window display for Hermès blossomed into the concept underlying her best-known work... the “Hermès Theater” on Ginza is doing an excellent job of helping Japan’s sharpest new creators reach a global audience.
Ginza Maison Hermès’ homepage features not only the current window display but also an archive of previous creations. There’s even a special page about the hundred-window milestone, complete with video presentation and essay by Alice Rawsthorn.
Having a “time machine” like this that can let you view the work of past creators from anywhere in the world is convenient, but there’s nothing like standing before of the glass-block facade on Sukiyabashi crossing in Ginza and witnessing the display in real life. The theme for 2018 is “Let’s Play!”—why not drop by this year to see what new and playful ideas Hermès and today’s most innovative creators have come up with?
Curation/Writing by: Toshie Fujino
Editor/Journalist After serving on the editorial boards of W (Japan), Ryuko Tsushin, and La Seine, became chief editor of Priv. (Publisher: Nikkei BP) in spring 2000. Has been involved in the editing of quality magazines, including serving as chief editor of Nikkei Business Style Magazine Dignio and performing editorial oversight of the owned media Genuin. Her current mission is introducing new lifestyles and role models for the realization of quality life in the centenarian age, and promoting bespoke living ordered and organized for individual needs. Her hobbies and interests include garden tourism, wine tourism, opera tourism, cheese, gardening, old roses, gerontology, rescue dogs and cats, and more.