Prima Facie Film & Installation for Gentle Monster USA

In addition to developing Proto-, I also served as a supervising manager and creative c consultant on Gentle Monster USA's fall campaign, Prima Facie. Gentle Monster is a unique South Korean eyewear brand that, alongside their uniquely fitted nose pads that allow Asian women to wear Western designs without fear of the glasses falling off of their faces, came to prominence to their Instagram-ready store designs. In particular, their flagship store in South Korea features a new "Quantum" installation every 25 days. Following suit, the U.S. store had already staged two installations since its opening in February, with a third one planned to open around September 6. The project was overseen and executed primarily by creative manager Min-yeong Kim and design interns Won Hyung Choi and DaSom Kim along with Mingming Zhang--though all of them did far more work than any intern I've ever seen. In my role as content manager, along with visual manager Tom Kinsman, we were almost like consultants on the project, helping the design team to conceptualize their starting idea of the Fall Equinox into a far more immersive narrative experience that I titled Prima Facie. I also worked with the extraordinary Mr. Kinsman to write and storyboard a short film that he produced and directed as well. 

Photography by Leandro Viana

 

Prima Facie Installation

From the start of the summer, we knew Tom would be responsible for creating a film to be shown in the installation itself, but as the concept of the film was directly linked to the installation itself, it wasn't until August that we were clear on exactly what elements we had to play with to create an engaging and distinct fashion film (alas, the fashion film format tends to follow a pretty reliable formula of taking an abstract concept and making it increasingly opaque while having beautiful people walk around in fabulous clothing.) As we helped the design team to move away from an over-wrought time concept that would have a craftsman-like feel towards the more broad subject of time's passage, we were able to ground some of their ambitious ideas--including moving clock gears in the front window and a towering sculpture in the back room--by tying the theme back to Gentle Monster's own history, thus giving the installation a bit more of a marketing focus than past efforts.

From the store's front, the left side features a moving clock sculpture designed by Won and juxtaposed by the LED screen used in Solar Hibernation, which Tom programmed to display a sequence of five different videos, each interspersed with a separate piece of footage, that were culled from YouTube and other sources and included such rhythmic visuals as a spider weaving its web and hammers knocking wood, each intended to evoke a sense of curiosity and familiarity in the passer-bys as the footage was abstracted to a degree so that it was no longer recognizable by its content, but by its tempo.

Once visitors made their way past the store's long opening corridor into the store's main shopping area, a deconstructed clock painted two colors and laid out vertically on a planar display followed visitors as they made their way to the back room, glowing in the warm yet sterile light. In the back room stands a sculpture made of chairs of gradating height, each looking outward to the walls draped in countless frames, each holding a symbolic piece of Gentle Monster's past.

 

Prima Facie Film

Once we knew what we had to work with, Tom came to the table with what would essentially become our beginning and end: he wanted a shot of a person swinging a pendulum back and forth while walking, almost like a human clock, and for the film to end with this person taking a seat at the base of the Babel-esque tower in the back of the store. Over the course of a balmy New York August afternoon, we conceived of a rather menacing yet metaphysical tale in which we had an older man, the Warden of Time, who would walk through a white corridor swinging his pendulum and enwrapped in chains, tending to the innumerable chronological devices sitting in the wall shelves. Watching over his every move to ensure that his work remains on schedule, we devised three Sentinels of Time, representing past, present, and future, who too are fast at work. As we watch the Sentinels, who remain forever young, endlessly move back and forth from the back room, carrying picture frames to the room while coming back with nothing. Finally we reach the end of the Warden's shift, but rest is a far cry from how we leave him, sitting still while staring outwards at the work waiting him every waking minute, the sentinels now all together in the back room, adjusting their never-ending tower in this endless purgatory.