This is probably one of the most slick retail bank branches imaginable, it could easily pass as a designer boutique. Or a spaceship command bridge. Surely Captain James T. Kirk would have been pleased.
However it`s a SMBC (Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation) branch located in Shukugawa, Nishinomiya-city in Hyogo prefecture between Osaka and Kobe in Japan. The branch office was designed by Tetsutaro Nishida and Mitsuhiko Imai – two of the 60 inhouse designers – from Nikken Sekkei Space which is responsible for the interior design. Nikken Sekkei Space became independent from it`s parent company Nikken Sekkei in 1994.
This bank is designed with a sleek atmosphere but also to ensure that it blends into the local residential area.The ground floor is filled with rich natural light and the gentle curved interiors, welcomes the customers.
The first floor is designed to reflect a modern residential setting, and the interior represents a rich and sleek atmosphere and gives a unique experience for customers.
After the completion of the SMBC office in December 2012 it was shortlisted quite a few times and picked up numerous design prices, such as these:
- 2013 JCD Design Awards (BEST100)
- 2013 Leaf Interior Design Award shortlist
- 2013 INSIDE World Festival of Interiors shortlist
- 2013 Asia Pacific Interior Design Award Excellence
- 2014 JID Award Biennial Honorable Mention.
In a competition entry we could find a little more background information what inspired the designers to come up with this slick space-age interior design:
A space wrapped with bright light and soft curves:
The ground floor, which targets general customers, is an area open to the local community. This space is designed to be similar to a park where everybody would like to drop by. The curves that make up the walls and ceilings bring dynamism indoors. Sunlight pours through the light curtain ceiling and looks like sunbeams streaming through leaves. It wraps itself along the cornerless walls and provides the space with organic outlines while drawing a gentle gradient.
All fixtures are designed with the motif of parallelograms or trapezoids so as to act in concert with the gentle sunlight. The layout has been arranged in an orderly and rhythmic manner according to the flow line. The floor is designed so that the fixtures will respond flexibly to a possible layout change in the future.
Installations, such as air-conditioning louvers and return slits that may have an adverse influence on the interior design and figurative furniture, are hidden in wall groves and blind spots. The interior is generally constituted with bright tones. The beige sofas express the earth and the yellow and red cushions express flowers blooming there. Sound-absorbing panels are also displayed as artwork on the walls, embossed with a pattern of leaf veins.
A well-paced and high quality wooden spars:
The first floor, consisting of compartment-type consulting booths and reception rooms, is a place to provide services of a higher grade. The space is designed in the image of a high-class residence in the hope of creating a family-like, intimate relationship with customers. We treated the ground floor like an outdoor public gathering space and the first floor like a more personal at-home space to solve the sense of design discontinuity resulting from the difference in purpose between the ground floor and first floor. The continuous wood louvers on the first floor eliminate the feeling of unnaturalness in the sequential area that ranges from the banking hall, with its white-based neutral color scheme on the ground floor, to the compartments on the first floor via a staircase that is laced with a glass mosaic. The change from the white-based design with curves to the wood-based design with straight lines emphasizes that the first floor is a more personal space. We are sure that customers will feel the change in space to a smaller and more intimate place when they are guided to separate compartment-type booths through the louvers. The interior incorporates high-quality materials simply in order to provide a clean and calm atmosphere. We carefully selected vintage walnut furniture for the first floor as a tool to reduce customers’ sense of distance from the bank.