Snarkitecture, a New York-based design studio specializing in retail will open Snark Park, its first permanent exhibition space at the Shops and Restaurants at Hudson Yards on March 15. The 6,000-square-foot Snark Park will be located on the second floor of the urban shopping center and located near Cartier and Lululemon. Snarkitecture, which is known for its cunning reinterpretations of the familiar — structures, objects and experiences — will create at Snark Park immersive installations housing design environments that appeal to children on one level and wink at adults on another.
“Retail isn’t going away, but the greatest form of commerce is experience, and people are spending lots of money on experience,” said Esty Ottensoser, retail specialist at Related Companies, developer of Hudson Yards, located between 30th and 34th Streets, and 10th and 12th Avenues.
“[Consumers] are seeing everything immediately and through digital waves. When they come to this experience, they’re going to spend their money here and elsewhere,” Ottensoser continued. “This customer enjoys art and culture. They want to come and see it, because it seems enticing. It feels permanent and feels like you’re at a museum or a gallery.”
Related’s goal is to extend customers’ stay at Hudson Yards. “It’s a place that feels like you can spend a half a day there,” Ottensoser said. “We’re committed to having this be a place where you not only shop.”
Ben Porto, a partner in Snarkitecture, described Snark Park and the firm’s other activations as “something between art and architecture. Our aesthetic is this very reduced palate. When you strip away colors and things, it’s familiar in one way, but it’s also changed enough so you want to touch it. We say, ‘Climb on this, touch this and dive into this.'” The design studio also employs unconventional materials in settings familiar and reimagined.
“The Beach is a good example,” Porto said of the interactive installation that reimagines the familiar natural and cultural elements of a day at the beach with more than 1 million recyclable antimicrobial plastic balls used as sand. “We didn’t know who would show up. It was all ages. Grown-ups see this elevated experience and kids say that’s a cool experience we want to run around in,” Porto said of the installation, which was commissioned in 2015 for the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.
“Part of what we do are these interactive experiences as a part of bigger events and announcements, a lot of short-term stuff,” Porto said. “What’s coming up recently has been a demand for longer experiences. The Beach is a project with a million white spheres that we pack up. Really, the idea is to make Snark Park a permanent location and make it more of an incubator for new stuff.”
Porto said Snark Park feels connected to other elements converging on Hudson Yards such as the northern end of December the High Line and Culture Shed. “It’s a museum-level experience,” he said. “It’s not really art in the sense of a gallery. It’s a totally designed interactive space. Other projects we’ve done include a gallery installation for Cos, where we filled an entire gallery with hanging fabric, then cut it in an artful way to create cavernous spaces. Snark Park is more architectural in that you’re meant to move through the area.”
Snark Park will have great views of The Vessel and the water. There will be three installations per year. In the first year, the installations will all be new and never before seen.
“Fun House,” Snarkitecture’s first comprehensive museum installation at the National Building Museum this year, was a reimagining of a house through the design studio’s off-kilter lens and a sequence of interactive rooms.
Food and beverage will be available at Snark Park. In addition, there will be a lobby experience with a retail component, Porto said. “Each installation will be accompanied by a unique retail experience, including an exclusive partnership. “We’ll have Kith Treats, ice cream and cereal. We design the Kith stores. We’ll make objects and collaborate with different furniture and product designers. We design T-shirts and hats and will do Kith Treat-related cool streetwear.”
“Snark Park will offer limited-edition one-off pieces that will be announced as ‘the drop,'” Ottensoser said. “We’re excited because that’s a big part of retail today. Some will be with Kith Treats and others with big brands. Snark Park will have a program of limited-edition drops. There’s a big retail component.”