In line with its streamlined marketing, Uniqlo has recruited Mona Kim to warm up its three New York stores with colorful heat waves.
Meant to highlight the chill-fighting technical features of Uniqlo’s apparel, there will be swaths of orange and other sunburst shades in the retailer’s three New York stores. In from Paris, Kim, a visual artist and multidisciplinary design consultant, has been holed up in a Williamsburg, Brooklyn, design studio for the past month fine-tuning the installation.
She said Monday, “I just thought it would be interesting to do something extremely simple. What if we were immersed in this transcendental color to cut through all the visual clutter that we’re surrounded by in the holiday season?”
The grading shades of colors are being placed in windows, on floors and staircases, underneath beams, display cases and up shelves. The company’s Fifth Avenue flagship should be ready Wednesday, the SoHo store will be set on Friday and the West 34th Street store should be complete on Saturday. Lumisty, a glass film that creates an optical illusion, is used in select locations. Kim first experienced the visual sensations when passing by Issey Miyake’s Pleats Please store in SoHo in the Nineties. Lumisty can appear partially fogged and then completely transparent, depending on where the person is standing. In total, 2,000 square feet of Lumisty was used, as well as 7,000 square feet of vinyl and 2,000 square feet of dichroic film.
The Lumisty film was a Japanese invention that was originally used for computer screen privacy, which appealed to Kim on both levels. Kim noted that former Wieden + Kennedy global creative director John Jay has been busy trying to bring more innovation to Uniqlo since joining Fast Retailing two years ago as president of global creative. With his approval, Shu Hung, who was hired this year as global creative director of brand experiences and special projects, recruited Kim to come on board for the holiday project. Kim also worked on Uniqlo’s New York holiday window displays in 2013 using stop-animation photography.
As an artist, Kim said her role always comes down to how to interpret an idea in a given space with all its different conditions to make something visually impactful. “I have always kind of been adverse to very literal holiday symbols whether it’s Santa Claus, snowflakes or other things. With Uniqlo, it’s a great opportunity because they give me that creative space to make something more interactive and not have to resort to those types of things,” Kim said. “This is the opposite of the Macy’s windows approach, which are beautiful in their own way. That’s just not the right approach for Uniqlo, which is so much about functionality.”
To try to help preserve dying artistic practices in far-off locales, Kim continues to run Moowon, an online magazine and e-commerce site that she started last year. “It’s not even for the money. It’s really about connecting with other people in the world who I never would have had the chance to and accessing worlds outside of the commercial design world.” she said. “Somehow it feeds into the work I do with my brand clients.”