I’m standing in Umeda Tsutaya, a book store in Osaka station, Japan, at the launch of the Japanese translation of my book Champagne and Wax Crayons.
I feel proud as it’s been given a full wall display, but also dismayed that many of our major retail stores are so far behind the Japanese ones. I’m here to create custom, hand-drawn signs to reach out in more personal fashion to a brand new audience. It is a refreshing change from how a book launch might work in the UK.
The design of the retail space is just as refreshing. Masterfully designed by British architects, Klein Lytham, it’s clear that this company knows its audience on many intrinsic levels, channelling this insight throughout their entire setup.
The layout of this branch is one swooping-crescent, which feels infinite as you explore not just a mind-boggling array of books but also a barber, a shoeshine store, an Apple Store and a full-blown restaurant and café area. Somehow, it all works. The outer walls are adorned with the work of up-and-coming local artists while the clean and polished feel attracts hoards of business professionals. Yet, parents and children can come here, relax, read, eat and drink, coexisting with hip students and designers. I could go on.
By the time I arrive...