Tapped by Louis Vuitton, OMA’s Shohei Shigematsu Creates an Immersive Retelling of the Brand’s Venerable History

The legend of Louis Vuitton is often told in broad strokes. What is now an international luxury brand began as a trunk atelier, founded by its namesake Parisian in 1854. His son, Georges, later took the reins, followed by his son, Gaston-Louis—each generation making its own innovations. “The story has been told many times,” reflects architect Shohei Shigematsu, a New York–based partner of OMA. Epic tales, of course, bear repeating. So when the brand tapped him to conceive an exhibition, he immersed himself in the archives, challenging himself to dig into the details and revisit the narrative with fresh eyes.

The Souvenirs room.

Photo: Courtesy of Louis Vuitton

His vision comes to life at the new LV The Place Bangkok, a first-of-its-kind flagship for the brand, with a café, restaurant, and galleries. Titled “Visionary Journeys,” the exhibition immediately turns past notions on its side, deploying the monogrammed cases as bricks assembled into an arched tunnel. “We wanted to communicate the strength and lightness of the trunk,” says Shigematsu of the immersive entrance, which leads to a wunderkammer-like chamber filled with archival memorabilia and ephemera.

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Monogrammed Louis Vuitton trunks form the entrance of the brand’s new exhibition at LV The Place Bangkok.

Photo: Courtesy of Louis Vuitton

From there, visitors enter a brightly lit room where acrylic cases reminiscent of bubbles reveal Louis Vuitton icons like the Alma, Speedy, and Petite Malle handbags. The following gallery, meanwhile, spotlights the brand’s rich history of collaboration. Here, a wall of mirrored duffels, each dipped in chrome, becomes a blank reflective slate for Yayoi Kusama’s dots, Stephen Sprouse’s graffiti, and the other patterns blazing from the opposite screens. (Real examples appear in a carousel display.) “Brand exhibitions often look into the past,” observes Shigematsu, adding of his open-ended reel: “The idea of collaboration is strongest when you can project into the future.”

Best of all, no one goes home empty-handed. The final gallery is dedicated to souvenirs, with a range of mementos displayed in a multicolor grid of cases inspired by local food stalls. The vending machine pops a keepsake out at random. Says Shigematsu, “People can come back for more.” louisvuitton.com

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