Tsutaya's Daikanyama Project
Like many my age I worked in HMV during my formative years. Literally just off the boat (Ryanair flight) from Ireland, I wandered to the only part of London I knew - Covent Garden and dive bombed the various retail outlets with my CV. The lovely Paul took me on, just 2 days after I arrived. At that stage I hadn't worked in retail for almost two years and already had a years work experience as a graphic designer under my belt - however I’d decided to return to Uni and complete an MA at Central Saint Martins. I needed a reasonably well paid and interesting Saturday job fast. Before I knew it three of my fellow Irish MA students were working there too. We complained about the endless bouts if Rihanna we were force fed over the official HMV radio, groaned when forced to do replenishments (ever looked beneath the shelves at HMV to see the rows of extra stock? I was the one who got down on my knees and replaced EVERY missing CD), but all in all it was a good place to work. My fellow employees were in bands, were studying to be the next Spielberg or scribbling away to be writers. Having a well paid job somewhere relatively interesting was important to us. And we really did care that people listened to good music. Many risked a rather soft telling off from management by changing the weeks assigned cds (usually Rihanna) for something a bit more 'choice'. Animal Collective, Grizzly Bear, Radiohead - they're not the most left field artists ever but represent the best type of commercial music and we tried to put them on as often as we could.
Lots of people have been critical of HMV In the past few weeks. I dont want to contribute to that conversation. However I will look East to the likes of Japan where bookstores and 'downloadable media' stores are thriving. The T-site Daikanyama is just one example of how retailer Tsutsaya is successfully adapting to the new world order.
Klein Dytham won the commission to develop a new type of retail and leisure space in the Daikanyama district of Tokyo. The development is in the shape of a T representing the brands logo and is devided into distinct zones. The book store is compartmentalised- the literature section for example is tightly packed mirroring the famous second hand bookstores of Tokyo. Although the bookstore is beautiful it's the level of service that stands out. Each section of the bookstore has its resident expert known as a concierge and like the target customer they are over 50 - drawing on the life experience and knowledge learnt over time. Not just shop assistants they are experts in their field.
It's the people that make the retail experience and perhaps it was the people that kept HMV afloat for as long as it did.