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After designing 15 stores for Anthropologie, EOA/Elmslie Osler Architect was engaged to design the first store outside of the United States for Free People, another Urban Outfitters brand.
The store is the first flagship in Tokyo, Japan, and is located in the heart of the Harajuku shopping district. The challenge was to convert a cavernous, cold and dark concrete building into a warm and more tactile environment that reflected the brand’s bohemian spirit.
The transformation included sheathing the entire building in white washed wood and bringing the scale of the building down to the pedestrian by integrating sliding steel and glass doors and plantings at street level.
Entry is through an intimate side garden with trees illuminated in white lights or along the street and down a curving natural wood staircase. Warmth and texture were brought to the interior with natural wood beams, flooring, fixtures and patchwork fabric. An enormous double height space was activated by white wooden trusses, creating a framework for merchandising elements and filtering the light from skylights above. The second level mezzanine will hold yoga classes and private events and has a view overlooking the main floor of the store through the trusses, integrating the two levels visually and with the texture of the brand.
The Free People team filled the store with unique objects accumulated through travels and hand stenciled textures and string art, all to infuse the space with the Free People spirit. The store is a destination for Tokyo girls and has become a place to play, linger and shop.