Hills Avenue Store in Ginza, Tokyo, by PRAIA inc.

The Hills Avenue brand of ladies shoes is known for an exceptional blend of beauty and comfort. Following the first Hills Avenue stores established in Jiyugaoka, Tokyo, and Kobe Motomachi in Hyogo prefecture, the flagship Ginza Store was opened in Tokyo’s most prestigious shopping district on May 19, 2017. Yamaha equipment was chosen for the Ginza store’s sound system. We asked Mr. Hiroyuki Ohnishi, director of parent company PRAIA’s planning and creative division, about the store’s overall design concept, and their decision to adopt Yamaha products for in-store sound.

To begin, give us a brief introduction to the Hills Avenue Ginza store

We had already established directly managed stores for our Hills Avenue brand in Jiyugaoka and Kobe Motomachi. The Hills Avenue Ginza store is our third, designed from the outset to be our flagship retail store. We had wanted to open a flagship store in Ginza for quite a while, and our upper management had been patiently searching for an appropriate location. When an ideal spot was eventually found, we were ready to move in.

The beautiful design of the store and displays is very impressive

We asked Mr. Tokujin Yoshioka, a distinguished designer chosen by Newsweek Japan for their “100 Japanese Respected Around the World” listing, to create a design for us. Our approach to everything we do, including selecting materials for our shoes, is that every detail must be of the highest quality. That is why we asked internationally renowned Mr. Yoshioka to design our flagship store. We were very fortunate and honored that he agreed.

Tell us about the store’s design concept

When Mr. Yoshioka’s saw and handled our company’s products for the first time, his initial impression was that the shoes were lighter than they appeared. That impression was translated into a feeling of lightness and buoyancy in the store design, and in the display where the shoes appear to be floating in space.

The basic white color of the Ginza store is different from the Jiyugaoka store’s yellow key color

Although yellow is our company’s brand color, Mr. Yoshioka felt that it was more important to highlight the products, so white was chosen for the fundamental tone at the Ginza store. But at the same time, if you’re ever in Ginza at night, be sure to take a look at the store while you’re here. The interior is lit up by yellow LED illumination after closing time.* The whole store glows yellow, providing a romantic setting for the products that seem to float within. We can set to the RGB lighting system to produce any color, but our brand color is important to us and we are delighted that it has been used in such an elegantly refined way.(* See the nighttime photo at the beginning of the article.)

How are the Yamaha VXC5FW speakers, MA2030a power amplifiers, and DCP1V4S-US control panels set up in the store?

Three VXC5FW speakers are installed in the first-floor ceiling, and five more are installed in the second-floor ceiling. There is a fitting space in a corner of the second floor where customers can relax while they try on our products, and the sound system is designed to ensure that the music reaches and fills that space as well. Independent MA2030a power amplifiers are located on the first and second floors, with DCP1V4S-US control panels installed in the back yard areas on both floors for remote control.

There is a large monitor screen on the second floor showing promotional videos. Are audio for second floor video playback and first floor background music both handled by the same system?

Yes. We can select background music provided by USEN (a Japanese broadcast music delivery company) or audio for the video programs via switches on the control panels. Normally, sound for the first and second floors is linked so that USEN background music is playing on both floors. But when video material is being shown on the second floor, background music continues playing on the first floor while audio for the video is selected separately for the second floor. All we have to do is press a switch on a DCP1V4S-US controller. It is very simple, and that is ideal for us.

With so many brands to choose from, why did you go with Yamaha?

Mr. Yoshioka felt that a Yamaha system would be an ideal complement for the store’s visual design. The elegant design and color of the Yamaha speakers was a perfect match for the design of the display. They blend into the surrounding décor very nicely.

Now that the Yamaha sound system has been in use for a while, how do you feel about its sound quality, operability, and design?

The quality of the sound is very high. Frequency response is wide and natural, with bass that is much more solid and present than we expected. There is an overall depth to the sound that is very appealing. All operation is carried out via the DCP1V4S-US control panels, which we have found to be simple and convenient to use.

If gear could express emotion, we’re sure the Yamaha equipment you’re using here would be delighted to deliver sound in such a beautiful space. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to talk to us.