by Murrye Bernard Assoc. AIA LEED AP
Event: New Practices New York 2010 Winner Presentation: Leong Leong
Location: Center for Architecture, 12.15.10
Speakers: Christopher Leong, Assoc. AIA & Dominic Leong — Principals, Leong Leong
Sponsors: Lead Sponsors: Dornbracht, MG & Company; Valiant Technology; Sponsors: Espasso; Hafele; Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; Media Sponsor: The Architect’s Newspaper
Brothers Christopher Leong, Assoc. AIA, and Dominic Leong always knew they would work together, and, after stints with other firms, they formed Leong Leong in 2009. While designing interiors for retailers, they’ve explored using diagrams to organize and define space. When applied to a different site conditions, this strategy produces very different outcomes.
For the 3.1 Phillip Lim store in Los Angeles, Leong Leong transformed a former auto-body shop by articulating the interior with curving walls constructed of acoustic foam covered with spiky pyramids. The curves organize the space by creating enclaves, each with a different atmosphere as they are lined with lush wall-coverings like leather herringbone. In the fashion flagship typology, Christopher explained, “design becomes part of the brand itself.” To establish a cohesive look for Lim, the brothers adapted the figure from the L.A. store and cropped it to fit the smaller floorplate for the Seoul flagship. They installed mirrors along the perimeter walls to create a reflective field and visually extend the space. Instead of pyramids, the foam walls are textured with cones.
The Leongs also applied this evolving diagram to a tiny 6-foot-by-10-foot W/ storefront in Chinatown for the installation Turning Pink. Utilizing a stereographic technique, they created a reflective field by constructing a figure from rigid pink insulation, cutting voids into each surface, and setting them against mirror-lined walls. Another experiment in temporary architecture was the Siki Im Concept Store for the Building Fashion competition. Leong Leong designed a pop-up store within the former sales trailer for Neil M. Denari Architects’ HL23 on the High Line. With a budget of only $5,000, they chose spray foam insulation as the main material, since it has both an organic and industrial quality, according to Dominic. Foam coats a ramp within the trailer, creating an experience for visitors, rather than highlighting the clothing — an opposite approach from typical retail designs.
Currently, Leong Leong is designing a winery in California, a historic townhouse renovation in Chelsea, and collaborating with Phillip Lim on more retail interiors. They hope to continually explore the “field potential” of their organizational diagrams and take them beyond interior spaces.
Murrye Bernard, LEED AP, is a freelance architectural writer and a contributing editor to e-Oculus.