The Peak Of Outdoor Innovation

Founded by Japanese mountaineer Yukio Yamai in 1958, Snow Peak has become one of the world’s premier outdoor lifestyle brands. In October 2019 it opened a new store in London - its first in Europe - where a high end sound installation is helping the company’s mission to inspire a new type of outdoor adventure.

Yukio was inspired to start Snow Peak by his experiences of climbing Mount Tanigawa, a 2000m peak in central Japan, which has claimed the lives of over 800 climbers in the past 70 years. Seeking to develop pioneering new equipment for a safer mountaineering experience, he engaged skilled metalworkers in his home town of Tsubame Sanjo to create lightweight-but-durable crampons and other equipment. His pioneering work was noticed by friends, who soon wanted to buy the equipment, and a business was born.

It was in the 1980s that Snow Peak evolved into its current form, as a boom in car-based camping expeditions swept Japan. Yukio’s son Tohru joined the firm and the company shifted its focus, as Tohru says, “from the mountaineering equipment of our past to the camping equipment of our future.” Tohru’s daughter - Yukio’s granddaughter - Lisa Yamai joined the company in 2012 and is now the president of Snow Peak.

Since then Snow Peak has gone from strength to strength, developing inventive, fashionable camping equipment that focuses on very high quality. Using top grade, ultra-lightweight materials like titanium and the latest performance fabrics, Snow Peak equipment and clothing is designed to encourage people who wouldn’t otherwise go camping to enjoy the great outdoors with a degree of luxury.

The London store, Snow Peak St James’s, is the first store in Europe to feature the company’s full range of products. Designed by architect Takamasa Kikuchi, the store highlights the company’s ultra-high quality approach to its products and the inclusive motto ‘we are also users’.

“We’re not just a reseller, we consider ourselves part of a community. We hold camping events around the world to inspire people to enjoy the outdoors and anyone is welcome to drop in here for a chat with the staff or a snack in our cafe without feeling obliged to buy anything,” says General Manager Gunnar Björling.

“We take pride in innovation and it’s these interactions which drive our determination to constantly look for better materials, to look at every detail and devise new products for a new type of camping.”

Gunnar Björling

The atmosphere at Snow Peak St James’s is enhanced by a high end audio installation by sound artist Manabu Shimada. This perfectly complements the high quality look and feel of the company’s products with an equally refined aural sensation - a gentle, relaxing and constantly evolving natural soundscape which fills the staircase linking the store’s three floors. Elsewhere, Yamaha speakers play a soothing musical soundtrack.

Left: Takamasa Kikuchi / Right: Manabu Shimada

Snow Peak’s ‘we are also users’ motto and its company policy of building to a performance level, not a price, could be equally applicable to Yamaha. So it is unsurprising that the company chose a Yamaha audio system for the store, with Manabu Shimada carefully selecting the speakers to deliver his painstakingly-designed soundtrack.

The four zone system uses Yamaha’s discreet VXS1ML speakers and VXS3S subwoofers to deliver the music-on each floor, with five vertically-arrayed VXS5s delivering the sound installation in the full-height stairwell. The system is powered by a pair of XMV8280 multi-channel amplifiers and managed by an MTX3 matrix processor. System control is by wall-mounted DCP panels and Yamaha’s Wireless DCP app on iPhone.

The four VXS1MLB compact surface mount speakers on the walls

The VXS1MLB compact speaker and VXS3S compact subwoofer on the ceiling

The VXS5W speakers at the stairs

Another example of Snow Peak’s innovation is that every product is designed to be used for a lifetime. “We want the life cycle of our products to be as long as possible,” says Gunnar. “If it breaks we will repair it and, if it’s unrepairable, we will take it apart and recycle it into something new.

“Nowadays technology has meant that we sacrifice so much precious human-to-human interaction. Through the architecture, the soundtrack, our products and our team of outdoor enthusiasts at Snow Peak St James’s, we want to inspire a new type of outdoor adventure and help people to reconnect with the natural world and the rest of mankind. Because to us there’s no greater luxury than spending time in nature.”

Please check out the interview with Mr. Gunnar Björling.

London, United Kingdom

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