An animatronic version of Yayoi Kusama is currently taking social media by storm, daubing the windows of Louis Vuitton’s New York store in colourful polka dots. Over in Milan, the Japanese artist’s signature dots are also at work, activating a long-dormant Rationalist landmark as an immersive retail space for the brand.
Architect Giuseppe De Min designed the Garage Traversi on piazza San Babila as the first multi-storey car park complex in Milan, completed in 1939. Rationalist in style, the car park was the cornerstone of an urban renewal project initiated by Mussolini’s fascist government, featuring an internal car lift system instead of the more common ramps and a rounded facade inset with steel-framed ribbon windows.
Garage Traversi has been vacant for the last 20 years but is undergoing adaptive reuse and restoration as a food and retail complex.
And while its flagship store on Via Montenapoleone undergoes renovation for the next 18 months, Louis Vuitton has moved into three floors of the garage. The move aligns with the worldwide launch of Louis Vuitton’s Yayoi Kusama collab, and the brand has conceived the store as an immersive Kusama-inspired world.
On the ground floor, all vertical and horizontal surfaces are covered in striking black polka dots and hung with the artist’s shimmering ‘Narcissus’ balls reflecting to infinity. The upper levels house menswear (denoted by the use of vibrant Klein blue) and host a series of events and artist installations over the coming months. Kusama will celebrate her 94th birthday on 22 March 2023.
Louis Vuitton at Garage Traversi, piazza San Babila, Milan.