08 Apr 2019 • Lauren Grace Morris
What would happen if we had a 13th month? Gentle Monster’s Shanghai store foretells
At our Frame Awards ceremony in February, the South Korean eyewear brand Gentle Monster took not one but two accolades home for the Single-Brand Store of the Year: their mind-bending – extra-terrestrial, even – London shop was elected by the jury and public as winner. Though, for the company, that location gave just a taste of the otherworldly, installation-heavy interiors they were prepared to share with Earthlings.
It doesn’t come as a shock – considering the brand’s knack for creating compellingly sci-fi-esque spaces – that the renewed interiors of one of their two Shanghai posts exist on the edge of one’s imagination. They reflect a single chapter in Gentle Monster’s annual campaign: this year, the theme is ’13.’ It embodies a tale that was launched at the start of the year in the Seoul Sinsa shop, where customers were first introduced to the dystopian world of ‘Undecember.’ If the additional month isn’t already on your calendar, we’ll step in to clarify: according to the brand, the 13th month was born from the moon shifting out of axis with the Earth, creating an imbalanced, anxious society where people and animals are driven to survival mode.
In an industry that often begs consumers to be mindless shoppers online and in-store, it’s valuable to see retail brands choosing to take a sharp left
As with the genesis of any imaginary dystopia, Gentle Monster turned to modern-day issues for inspiration in creating the space, thinking about the ‘peculiar times the Earth must endure.’ Understatement of the year. The Shanghai store zooms in on the concept of what they call Mobitecture, as installations inside were designed to represent the world nomadic humans of the future might come to inhabit and living organisms' dependency on machines. To see and try on the eyewear, shoppers must journey their way through the designed environment – an experience the company hopes will help people reflect on their relationships with our current world. In an industry that often begs consumers to be mindless shoppers online and in-store, it’s valuable to see retail brands choosing to take a sharp left.
Gentle Monster brings on the poignant: in one jungle-like area of the space live devices meant to help our supposed ancestors ‘protect green areas and fresh air.’ A lone kayaker looks solemnly down at her watercraft in a yellow hallway. Cocoon-like cots hang from tepee structures neighbouring what looks to be a post-apocalyptic remnant of someone’s Airstream travel trailer. There’s a mannequin in a Dr. Evil-like getup wired onto a mechanical horse and surveillance spiders with intercoms on their heads. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of what’s going on in the shop; all in all, the set-up depicts a pretty bleak – yet decidedly Insta-friendly – Tomorrowland.
Seeing the Shanghai store, it’s safe to say that the creatives at Gentle Monster would have a promising career ahead of them if they transferred their efforts to Hollywood. Speaking of futures, though, it seems – judging off Gentle Monster’s vision of how it could all turn out – we should just try to keep that darn moon in axis.