In Shibuya, a cow-spotted ice cream pop-up reveals the mutual fun in spatial advertisements

Tokyo – In the Japanese capital, saturated with stimulation, many advertisements barely break through to public consciousness. A space completely decked in bold cow print – especially one with the promise of sweets inside – isn’t so easy to ignore, though. The tactic in reference was employed by architect Ryusuke Nanki with a Shibuya pop-up space commissioned by agricultural cooperative Hokuren for Milkland, a very aptly-named ice creamery.

‘We thought of this place as an advertising medium where people could walk in to sample the products, and designed the shop space [as a continuation of that] ad,’ explained Nanki. Luckily, being effective in doing so was helped by the sweet offerings themselves. Each of Milkland’s dairy desserts is made with milk and cheese from the island of Hokkaido, famed for breeding happy, productive cows. The fruits of their labour are something of a rarity in Tokyo (and, on top of that, dairy is proving a novelty to Asian markets), so Nanzi sensibly took advantage of the obvious black-and-white trope.

After being lured in via the perfectly out-of-place façade, visitors faced an ice cream counter. Then, they were prompted to venture upstairs to the toppings bar, from which containers randomly popped up like a game of Whac-A-Mole (it can’t go without mention that the feature made for perfect IG Boomerang material). All the while, a life-sized cow sculpture stood chaperone, patiently waiting to be noticed in its perfect camouflage and well-positioned for a photo-op.

The cleverest thing about Nanki’s spatial advertising? The commercialism was well disguised and the shop’s design spoke for itself, with no need for ad distribution. Milkland has every sweet-toothed visitor with a smartphone and social media account to thank for that.

Milkland was submitted to the spatial design competition of the year – St-W Awards 2020. Like the project? Keep your eye out on its progress. Think you can compete? Submit your best work .

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