Intersect by Lexus immerses visitors in a brand experience that is subtler than most. Rather than filling a showroom with the latest models, the Japanese brand has opted to create a place where people can just hang out – in the café, the Garage exhibit space, and Crafted for Lexus, a shop selling a curated selection of personal and interior accessories.
Developed by Masamichi Katayama of Wonderwall, the space is well-crafted and inviting, thanks to such warm elements as marble-topped wood tables and bamboo screens that wrap around both of the floors (each level measures 165 square metres); and edgier moves, like walls assembled from metal panels – and even auto parts. The interiors firm, which has envisioned vibrant environments for Uniqlo, as well as the imaginative 100% Chocolate Café in Tokyo, brought these complementary styles together with mastery.
Katayama explains that the bamboo helps to soften the modernist feel of the building. “Without the bamboo wall, this building is almost a pure glass box. That is of course beautiful. However, when it comes to having coffee in the cafe or a meal in the lounge, it was too exposed to the outside, so that I wanted to make a comfortable boundary between inside and outside.”
It also provided an opportunity to incorporate the brand in a sophisticated way. “We designed the pattern from the shape of the Lexus spindle-grill and made a collage out of it.” Lexus offers bamboo laminate as an interior option for its cars.
Crafting the all-white auto parts wall along the stair involved intense collaboration with Lexus, with the Wonderwall team visiting the factory several times. “Approximately 250 actual car parts from Lexus’s LFA, LS, GS, IS, RX models were selected. All those parts consist of very different materials, so that it was difficult to paint them all the same white. Without the help of the Lexus team, we could not overcome that difficulty.”
The combination of high-tech automotive motifs and more relaxed, organic details speaks to the brand, which Katayama explains is both high-tech and sharp, and mature and relaxing. The main challenge in designing the first of these spaces – two others are planned, in New York and Dubai – was “facing the fact this space is not for showroom purpose,” he says. “We call this space a ’boutique gallery.’ It was our fundamental challenge to produce a space introducing not only the quality of Lexus but also the conceptual mood of the brand combined with the cafe and exhibition area.”