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Acne Studios opens its first flagship store in Korea, designed by acclaimed architect Sophie Hicks Seoul has a highly distinctive character. The narrow, winding side streets of Gangnam and Cheongdam house some of the most exclusive shops in the South Korean capital. It is in this setting that Acne Studios unveils its new flagship store on 19 September 2015.

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“With our architect Sophie Hicks in London, our partner Shinsegae in Seoul and our HQ in Stockholm, it certainly has not been an easy process to build this house together from scratch. That said, I think we are all very proud and excited about the result.” Mikael Schiller, Chairman Acne Studios. The standalone building plays with the contrast between modest discretion and forceful attitude. Viewed from the outside it is a restrained and elegant lightbox. Once inside, the visitor finds that the box conceals a heavy, concrete structure consisting of four pairs of columns holding up the roof and upper floor. A floating concrete staircase winds around one of the columns.

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There is no decoration. The concrete bears the imprint of rough timber such as that used to make boardwalks to the beach in the Stockholm archipelago; and Acne Studios’ clothing is shown against softly reflective metal walls, freestanding in the open space; but there is not a single decorative finish of a traditional kind.

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The concrete will bear the imprint of rough timber, and the collections will be shown against softly reflective metal walls, freestanding in the open space. Juxtaposing the concrete and steel, the building sits on vegetation typically found in the Swedish archipelago: including, of course, wild strawberries. The Acne Studios Cheongdam store occupies 230 sqm and will carry men’s and women’s ready-to-wear and denim as well as accessories and footwear. In addition, a specially designed limited edition unisex sweater will be sold exclusively in store to celebrate the opening.

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This is the structure of the building. It is a rectangular building on two floors, both of rough concrete, with four pairs of concrete columns holding up the roof and the upper floor. Around one of these columns winds a floating concrete staircase. Once upstairs, you realise that there is something else about this building that is a little bit strange. As you look down and about, you notice that the rough, lumpen, concrete structure is entirely separate from the translucent walls that enclose it; that it sits inside its elegant box as if in a display case.

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A102C Concrete Staircase

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Ground floor plan

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First floor plan

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Roof plan

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Photography is by Annabel Elston.

Swedish culture prizes modesty and discretion. By contrast, Acne Studios’ designs are forceful and exude attitude. Our building reflects this contrast. Viewed from the outside, it is a restrained, rather elegant lightbox: translucent and ghostly but, in essence, plain and simple. Appearances, though, can be deceptive; and so they are, in this case. As soon as you enter, you realise that while it may only be a box, it is a box concealing a heavy, brooding, concrete monster.

Sophie Hicks










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