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A ‘Maison-jardin’ in Seoul for Van Cleef & Arpels

A ‘Maison-jardin’ in Seoul for Van Cleef & Arpels


After Paris, New York, Hong Kong and Tokyo, the Jouin Manku studio has completed Van Cleef & Arpels’ Maison in Seoul. For this new project, Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku were entrusted with the entire architectural conception of the building, the interior architecture and the design of every final detail. A complete project and a new opportunity to share a fascination for the world, as the studio celebrates its sixteenth year of collaboration with the exceptional French maison de haute joaillerie.

Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku, of the Jouin Manku studio, design the Maison Van Cleef & Arpels in Seoul, adding a prestigious new location to the jewelry brand’s portfolio. They explored European and Western architecture, adopting Korean ideas and incorporating the country’s rich culture into the project. An approach that reflects a desire to open up to the world and find a natural place in a new ecosystem. Gardens are a key factor in Korean design, and their presence is felt throughout Seoul, in palaces, private residences and temples. Recognizing the deep bond between Koreans and nature, the designers blur all boundaries: the garden blends into the building, culture mingles with commerce, indoor and outdoor spaces complement each other… Nature gracefully permeates the structure, becoming a living landscape on each of the five floors, from facade to roof. Visitors can thus stroll through the building as if on a quiet path, while contemplating the hanging jewels. This seamless connection is the work of Seo-Ahn Total Landscape, founded by landscape architect YoungSun Jung, known for her expertise in Korean landscapes and endemic species, which enabled her to recreate the essence of typical Korean mountain nature in the heart of Seoul. The architectural firm collaborated with experts in celadon, a traditional local ceramic, pushing its limits through the application of high heat. This collaboration involved a workshop specializing in ceramic tableware. The integration of cast aluminum, an ancient material in which the Koreans excel, creates a delicate, open structure that complements rather than overshadows the jewelry pieces. For the interior walls, the designers used hanji, one of Korea’s ancient crafts. While the manufacturing process has similarities with other Asian papers, such as Japanese washi or Chinese xuanzhi, hanji is characterized by the sieving process, which determines the formation of the paper sheet. During this stage, the unique gestures of Korean craftsmen, allowing the plant fibers making up the hanji to circulate in all directions, produce a solid yet somewhat irregular-looking paper, which ensures one of its charms. In keeping with Jouin Manku’s philosophy, the new Van Cleef & Arpels premises combine tradition and modernity.

Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku of the Jouin Manku studio.

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