Gentle Monster, Beijing
11 Sanlitun Rd, Chaoyang Qu, Beijing Shi, China, 100027
Korean optical brand Gentle Monster is a clicks to bricks business that has moved into retail with wonderful, idiosyncratic, experiential stores that immerse customers into intricately created worlds. There’s a train platform setting in Hong Kong, an aquarium in New York, and a rapidly cycling quantum installation in Seoul.
Recently opened in Beijing is ‘Secret Apartment’, an extension of the ‘Secret Laundry’ concept debuted in Daegu, South Korea. Secret Apartment continues the mysterious story of a missing artist, inviting customers into an immense and quirky living space full of mysterious rooms and hidden passages.
Gentle Monster combines art, eyewear and storytelling to unique effect.
Visitors enter what appears to be an apartment lobby adorned with rows upon rows of door buzzers – and are then welcomed into a space that combines modernist art gallery with a detective story and a dash of retail. They emerge from a wardrobe into a space filled with greenery and ornate furnishings, stumble into an artist’s studio brimming with Vermeer forgeries, or open a refrigerator to find a massive walk-in meat locker. Curiosities abound: turnstiles spin on a kitchen bench, ghostly outfits lay abandoned and glamorous chandeliers gather on the ground. Each room has a backstory, and it’s the task of the customer to discover it.
The product is there in each space, but incidentally, being displayed as though as part of an exhibit rather than the focus of the experience. The aim is retail as discovery – with each design experience shaping the brand and its resonance with consumers.
Retail storytelling is definitely something for which Gentle Monster has a singular vision.