Gentle Monster Flagship, London
28-29 Argyll Street, London W1F 7EB
After a brief popup in Selfridges, Eyewear brand Gentle Monster has launched its first European flagship in London’s Soho.
Themed ‘Kung Fu’, the new store delivers an extra-terrestrial interpretation of martial arts over two floors, artfully presenting a mix of kinetic sculptures, eye-catching robotics and quirky aliens mixed in with the brand’s more terrestrial eyewear.
More streamlined than its stores in Asia and the US, which require visitors to journey through complex spaces, the store nevertheless enchants.
With this alien kung fu outing, Gentle Monster has once again tapped into the experience-hungry retail environment.
On the ground floor is the ‘training room’, a kinetic installation where alien martial arts apprentices crafted from elaborate textiles and metals mimic training movements to the sound of a sacred gong.
A waterfall video backdrop by Ryoici Kurakawa lends a meditative note, while a custom incense-inspired fragrance permeates the air. Glasses and sunglasses lurk unobtrusively on minimalist open shelves on walls textured to resemble the surface of Mars.
Downstairs is the ‘battle ground’, where robotic aliens with hydraulic arms do battle in a bamboo forest. A raised amphitheatre doubling as a product display features small alien spectators, while a challenger looks on. Nearby, a hall of fame honours past champions.
Multisensory and beguilingly bewildering, with an emphasis on the tactile, it’s a setting in keeping with the brand’s experimental but wearable pieces.