LOUIS VUITTON – YAYOI KUSAMA’s pop up store for Selfridges London is explicitly derived from Kuama’s series of Pumpkin installations and endless Polka dot paintings. A series of pumpkin-like elements, self-similar in scale and geometry, intersect and overlap creating a fully immersive environment. Five large inhabitable “domes” integrate into a single, compound shell structure. Inside, hanging oversized “chandeliers” focus drama on the collection bellow, systematically displayed onto squashed pumpkin like podiums. Kusama’s famous signature dots are applied as high resolution perforated gradient pattern in order to increase visual depth to an extreme while creating a hypnotic and infinite universe
Responding to the extremely constrictive nature of the retail environment, the entire structure is developed as a periodic modular system. The pre-assembled macro-parts are scaled to minimize on-site assembly-time while dimensioned to fit through the department store doors.
In order to minimize assembly by being as stiff and light as possible, the entire envelope, including lights and tables, are conceived as a fully carbon fiber composite self-supported structure, measuring four meters high while only two millimeters thick. The geometric strategy utilizes compound curvature made from developable stripes of different types allowing for better control of costs inherent with such performance related material-systems (ie: high surface finish, intensive labor, complex molds typical to aeronautics and racing boats).
The result is an extremely lightweight pleated shell structure composed of three types of “V” units: a standard profile radially distributed, an elongated profile placed pseudo-randomly to blur a repetitive logic and a special flat profile to smooth the pleats across the large main entrance arches. Every unit is made out of two ruled surfaces that can be unrolled, nested then water-jet cut into custom pre-finished carbon-fiber sheets produced through vacuum-infusion on large, flat, marble-like formwork. The slices and units are bonded together into macro-parts using ready-made carbon-fiber-straps and temporary foam scaffolding. Kusama’s emblematic pattern was also water-jet cut in order to maximize lightness and increase manageability of the macro-parts during assembly and transport.
Beyond design, the pop up store is the world’s first fully carbon-fiber self-supported shell applied to architecture and therefore an important milestone toward larger, economically-sustainable carbon-fiber architectural structures.