It's rare that a project from an architect as highly regarded as Rem Koolhaas gets described as "two brands having unprotected sex," but that's how the global brand director of Dutch denim purveyor G-Star Raw characterizes the company's new headquarters, designed by Koolhaas' firm OMA and unveiled last week. For his part, Koolhaas seems to agree. "We've never been this vulgar" is how he phrased it to the Guardian, referring to the alignment of OMA's industrial aesthetic with G-Star's self-consciously crude and unprocessed ethos, embodied most clearly in the design's embrace of 'highway architecture,' the 'building-as-billboard' sentiment that sees one of the office's cantilevered glass boxes covered in a huge ad for jeans.
This kind of thing isn't exactly new territory for OMA, which rarely displays any qualms about acting like an ad agency, either through its think-tank offshoot, AMO, or more directly, in over a decade of work designing experimental flagship stores, installations, and imagery for Prada. Still, the quotes are something else. "It is a form of method acting," explains the project lead. "You engage with a brand so intimately that the brand takes over you." This kind of approach was apparently what won the firm the bid in the first place, with a presentation that involved overlaying pieces of steel and concrete OMA designs onto G-Star models.
Aside from the structurally incorporated ad space, this unabashedly cynical approach plays out in the actual design by putting OMA at its most industrial, situating the military-inspired clothing line in a bunker-like shell of dark concrete, with sliding glass doors sourced from an old aircraft hangar. Steel trusses with exposed bolts cut through large, warehouse-like spaces floored in aluminum and white resin that continue throughout the structure, made "as long as possible" to "maximize your exposure to the brand." According to OMA's project statement, all of this amounts to a "creative nucleus," reflecting the "inner dynamism of G-Star RAW."
· OMA completes industrial headquarters for G-Star RAW in Amsterdam [Dezeen]
· Rem Koolhaas's G-Star Raw HQ is like 'two brands having unprotected sex' [The Guardian]
· All Rem Koolhaas coverage [Curbed National]
· All Amsterdam coverage [Curbed National]