Gentle Monster: Revolutionizing the Retail Space

In the age of anxiety for brick and mortar stores, Cult Korean eyewear brand Gentle Monster are turning crisis into a cause for creativity and innovation.

Flagship: ‘laundry’, Daegu, South Korea

It’s an age of anxiety for brick-and-mortar stores, as more and more shoppers direct their attention online in favour of expedience over experience. The question of how to increase attraction and traffic toward flagships is an open one. However, Cult Korean eyewear brand Gentle Monster have recognised this phenomenon as an opportunity for creativity and innovation, rather than cause for despair. Their progressive, hyper-modern eyewear designs are mirrored and amplified in their approach to the retail space. With the opening of each new flagship store, Gentle Monster create in-store installations which transcend all preconceived expectations of the brick-and-mortar experience. Visitors can immerse themselves the brand aesthetic in dramatic totality. Gentle Monster creates worlds of texture, encapsulating alternative realities which affect sensibilities beyond the visual.

Flagship: ‘the play:play-acting’, Busan, South Korea.

The only thing consistent amongst Gentle Monster’s flagship installations is a commitment to bridging the gap between the conceptual and commercial, thus shifting the politics of the retail space. It seems no topic is too big or small for Gentle Monster’s installations to explore, employing space, material, sound and movement to illuminate each of their chosen themes. Their Singapore flagship, for example, is an interpretation of Nietzsche’s “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”, confronting men’s “desire to break free from the inescapable wheel of life”. Another flagship in Hongdae, Seoul, is a rumination on the wonders of the sense of smell via artworks reminiscent of Juan Miró’s mobiles. It features a series of works, rooms and objects which are studies of various scents, “in search for the perfect natural aroma”. The Chengdu, China, flagship tackles the creation of a post-apocalyptic world, while the flagship in Sinsa, Seoul illustrates the laws of entropy. Despite a loftiness of intention and impeccable curation, there’s a playfulness to Gentle Monster’s installations which makes the artworks digestible. The Daegu, South Korea flagship, disguised as a laundromat, is only half of what they call their [secret neighbors] campaign, promoted only through vague pieces of video art which contain clues about the flagship location. The variety of installation themes and concepts allows Gentle Monster to acknowledge a diverse range of artistic inspiration. It pays homage to the greats who paved the way for contemporary installation— notably Vladimir Tatlin, James Turrel, Donald Judd, and Yves Klein— by reinterpreting their immense contributions through a distinctly Korean lens.

Flagship: ‘the scent’, Hongdae, Seoul, South Korea

Gentle Monster’s recently opened Los Angeles flagship, ‘harvest‘, is the brand’s second US venture. The 5000 sq ft store feels like a mirage amidst the pandemonium of downtown LA. The installation series, which includes 2600 twig-like rods, mother-of-peal paddies, and shimmying, anthropomorphic haystacks, “lead[s] visitors through the stages of harvest”. Eastern design principles and philosophy combine to create a haven of natural balance in a city of endless highways and concrete.

Flagship: ‘harvest’, Los Angeles, California

Gentle Monster continue to push the boundaries of the brick-and-mortal retail space, providing shoppers with thought-provoking, sensory experiences. As of September this year, LVMH invested a rumored 53 million in the company, which is fortunate news for those of us eager to enjoy Gentle Monster’s unbridled creativity in the coming years.

Flagship: ‘harvest’, Los Angeles, California

Gentle Monster continue to push the boundaries of the brick-and-mortal retail space, providing shoppers with thought-provoking, sensory experiences. As of September this year, LVMH invested a rumored 53 million in the company, which is fortunate news for those of us eager to enjoy Gentle Monster’s unbridled creativity in the coming years.

 

NEXT ARTICLE
Meet 4 Female South Korean DJs Championing Inclusivity in Seoul’s Techno Scene