Issey Miyake

We are deeply saddened to learn about the death of revolutionary Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake.

Miyake was an innovator, experimenting with different materials – from fabric to plastic and from metal to paper – and with both traditional and modern techniques. But, moreover, he was a tireless supporter of young designers, encouraging creativity both within his atelier and through his commissions and collaborations.

Between 1985 and 2000, we had the pleasure and privilege of working with Issey on a series of his stores in London, to create bespoke spaces that complemented his creative vision and collections. With each shop we were concerned about making the activity of shopping a sensuous experience, playing with natural daylight, materials, contrasting textures and manipulating the internal volumes to heighten the drama and the experience for people as they moved through the sequence of spaces. All of which drew on our previous exhibition design experience.

In 1985, following a recommendation by Richard Rogers, we received the first architecture commission for a men’s shop on Brompton Road, London. That same year we met Miyake in Paris, during a fashion show. Through the lunch that followed, there was little opportunity to discuss the brief and, when we finally pressed him, on his way out of the restaurant, Miyake picked up a jacket that lay by his side and said: “Do you feel this? If you understand the quality of this, that’s what I want. That’s the brief for the shop.” And so, we understood that it was about feeling, tactile quality and sensuality, about the experience of wearing his clothes.

The men’s shop on Brompton Road was followed in 1988 by one opposite, for Miyake’s women’s ranges. The third Miyake commission comprised a shop in Smith Street, Chelsea, for the “Plantation” range, with offices and pied-a-terre above, which opened in 1990. The store was located in a residential street and operated very much ‘by invitation only’, giving a sense of the showroom being, in fact, a domestic room. The room was treated simply, with the clothes concealed behind full-height wooden screens. The design, as with other Miyake commissions, included several pieces of bespoke furniture and broke all the rules dominating mainstream retail at the time.

1995 brought us a major commission for his store in Conduit Street. The following year, we were commissioned to design a further store, this time for his “Pleats Please” range in Brook Street, Mayfair. A second shop for “Pleats Please” followed in 2000.

For Miyake, design was about the space between body and the materials which surround it. It was about slowing down, about making things that are timeless, that transcend passing fashion by appealing to the fundamentals of our culture. Issey Miyake has always been an inspiration to us, and these are values that we strive to embody in our architecture and which we believe are at the core of Miyake’s lasting legacy.