The retailer partnered with six artists across a variety of styles, including visual and performance artist Nick Cave, contemporary artist Rob Pruitt, artist collective Studio Job, Jamaican-born artist Ebony G. Patterson and Trey Parker and Matt Stone of Comedy Central’s “South Park.”
Patterson, whose installations at the Museum of Art and Design and the Studio Museum of Harlem deal with the invisibility of marginalized people, said that “to love someone, you have to be able to see them.” That sentiment was a jumping-off point for her window, which took Patterson to Jamaica where she filmed 15 native Jamaican adults and children.
“There’s a celebration of the joy and colors of her culture and the serious issue of invisibility,” said Dennis Freedman, creative director of Barneys.
Studio Job, an Antwerp and Amsterdam-based artist collective led by designers Job Smeets and Nynke Tynagel, is known for its fantastical creations that balance art and design.
The window by Studio Job will feature an astounding and wildly rigged Love Boat, with lobster claws steering the ship, a cloud of hearts escaping from a pipe’s bowl, a counterclockwise love clock and a rabbit wearing a red, white and blue top hat. The bow of the ship is shaped like a shark with teeth flashing, an upside-down sex cake floats at the bottom of the boat and two women are seen in silhouette kissing behind a porthole.
“They were really ambitious with the amount of things they mechanized,” Freedman said. “We chose one of the great old TV shows, ‘The Love Boat.’ Many people who see this window won’t have that reference, but they’ll discover it and want to look it up. America was a very different place then. ‘The Love Boat’ is part of our cultural history and it’s important to recognize that.”
Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman and Kenny McCormick will be in the “South Park” window doing what they do best — acting obnoxious, cursing, but also finding grown-up solutions to problems. “’South Park’ was a dream of ours,” Freedman said. “Our first discussion with Trey and Matt was a pipe dream. We honestly didn’t think it was going to happen.”
“South Park” characters will be three-dimensional for the first time. “They have never attempted it,” Freedman said. “They wrote an original script for the window.” He admitted to being concerned about the language coming out of the characters’ mouths and envisioned a mother and child hearing the trademark scatological humor.
“When we talked to ‘South Park,’ we had a very serious discussion about content,” Freedman said. “As much as we are huge fans, we made it clear that they would have to adapt. In the end, Trey said, ‘I want to do a window that I can bring my kids to.’” So this “South Park” is subversive because it’s suitable for children.
Rob Pruitt is no stranger to Barneys, having collaborated with the retailer on a custom bespoke degrade denim event with J Brand jeans and site-specific murals for Freds restaurant in New York and Beverly Hills.
“It’s going to be witty, with great humor, but definitely is serious at the same time because his themes are coming out of American culture,” Freedman said. “He’s turning things around. His window is a fantastic ride with sound and an environmental piece. It’s extremely entertaining. He’s dealing with love in a very particular way.”
Cave, who recently opened the massive and fully immersive installation “Until” at Mass MoCA, is known for his mixed-media projects that include myriad materials and found objects to create visually and audibly dynamic experiences. Cave’s full-body soundsuits are made of layers of metal, plastic, fabric, hair and found objects. When he made his first suit out of twigs, he was surprised to hear the noise it was making as he moved his body. The idea of the soundsuit was born. In Cave’s Barneys window, his soundsuits will be mechanized and will move through mechanical means, and will travel, come apart and come back together.
In the sixth window, Invisible Light Network created a custom video representing Love Peace Joy. Think bright kaleidoscopic colors, animation and abstracted video footage with an original soundtrack by Honnda.
Barneys’ holiday program has a charitable component. The retailer in the spring established the Barneys New York Foundation. Mark Lee, chief executive officer of Barneys New York, said the #LovePeaceJoyProject will promote the spirit of charitable giving for the holiday season by harnessing the power of the social media community.
The retailer today encourages audiences to share a photo of themselves forming a heart with their thumbs and forefingers or making a peace sign or jumping for joy. With each post, the Barneys foundation will provide a $5 donation for charities championed by Amy Schumer and Russell Westbrook. Schumer and stylist Leesa Evans’ StyleFund is aimed at the cultivation of personal well-being by guiding women on how to find their individual style silhouette to create true confidence. The Russell Westbrook Why Not? Foundation empowers children to ask “why not?” and aims to teach them to never give up.
“We always try to take a project like this and give it as many arms as possible,” said Lee. “The big social component is a crowdsourcing activity and by posting you can be part of it.”
While there are some holiday products associated with the windows, Lee said this year, “It’s less about selling products and more about giving back.”
Barneys’ flagships will feature The Love Machine, a digital vending machine activated by a $20 donation split between Stylefund and Why Not? The Love Machine dispenses a holiday surprise such as a mystery gift card or Love Peace Joy-themed playing cards, pins and patches. The #LovePeaceJoyProject will continue throughout the holiday season until Jan. 3.
“We never like to repeat ourselves,” Lee said. “We always try to bring a fresh approach. Already a year ago, we could sense there was going to be so much tumult chaos in the world. We really need this now.”