Proto- Website for Gentle Monster USA, Summer 2016

Following my departure from NYFA in May of 2016, things turned around quickly when I was contacted by an old friend, Min-yeong Kim who, at the time, was serving as Creative Manager for the company. Though primarily tasked with developing a high-end portfolio and content channel site, eventually called Proto- (though I still prefer my earlier title of Every Creature, what can you do), I also helped with the SoHo store's fall campaign, which I titled Prima Facie and developed both the storewide installation and a film with a spectacular team, which you can see and learn more about here.

Since unfortunately it doesn't seem like these materials are going to be seeing the light of day anytime soon, I am going to share some of the work Tom and I did this summer; including the Proto- website (with the blog content currently repurposed on this site's own blog, natch). While I believe that this work is of the quality that it appears like it could have taken three months to do, we ended up having about six weeks total to conceptualize the name and general content strategy, develop the site's visual identity, formulate an editorial voice and content purview, and well, a whole lot more. But this got interrupted when I found myself writing a short corporate book that Tom laid out and designed, and creating a name and website, much like we were already doing for the fall campaign, for the CEO's holding company, Every Global (which was not the name we developed). Besides that not-so-little detour, this project was immensely gratifying to work on and I'm grateful to both Min and Tom for allowing me to have some of the most fun I've ever had at work.

 

Proto- Website

The home page for Proto-, designed by Tom Kinsman.

The home page for Proto-, designed by Tom Kinsman.

Project Overview

Proto-, a portfolio site and culture channel for Gentle Monster USA, comprised of Sites, the company's space design work, Types, the company's collaborations, and Forms, the aforementioned channel of art, music, design, ceramics, and much more. The Forms content has been largely repurposed to help me get a jumpstart on my blog and so here I'll share of some of the more impressive layouts Tom and I did, as well as get a sense of the creative input we provided on Prima Facie. Min was the one who opted for the brown background, a call that has actually grown on me, strangely enough. The goal of the site was to attract leads for the already expressed interest in Gentle Monster's space design work while also aiming for a certain cultural cache, especially as a Korean brand seeking to stand out and expand in the U.S. market.

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Sewing Twins

One of the many bizarre pleasures that came with this job was that it indulged a lot of creative skills that I had felt stagnated in my last year at NYFA and thus my all-too brief period working with Tom Kinsman was exactly what I needed in my professional life. I don't feel I'm overstating anything when I say it was one of those perfect relationships in which every strength of yours is a weakness, comparatively, in the other person and vice versa, making for a partnership where a couple weeks purely brainstorming the aesthetic guidelines we were given--the minimal luxury of Celine, the balance of text and image on ACNE's site--so that once my copy was written with image ideas included, Tom knew exactly what we both wanted in terms of the layout and we definitely had some fun in playing around with some more inventive, magazine-styled layouts.

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The Rain

So the main goal with the five Sites layouts was for me to essentially create a narrative that we could retroactively affix onto the existing content provided by Gentle Monster HQ. While the installations involved a considerable amount of resources and work, the written materials for each one were generally paltry to say the least, with a rushed paragraph that more often than not simply described the contents of the installation and nothing more. So this made for a rather fun project for someone like myself and The Rain was perhaps where I went the most for broke; weaving a heady theory that the seemingly random objects in The Rain were actually a statement on the artistic process of influence and inspiration, to which we can feel tied to at times (re: motorcycle carrying a plaster block with classical forms strewn about). I didn't say it would be subtle!

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Grand Blue

The second installation done at the U.S. flagship store in SoHo, Grand Blue explored the volatile nature of water and its power to at once serve as a home to millions while destroying thousands of home every year. And I'll say, if these write-ups taught me anything it's that I can make a retail display sound like it should be in the Guggenheim. I should note that Tom and I made heavy use of cinemagraphs so many of the seemingly static images above are actually visual loops; the image on the right above contains 2-3 of them to create a layout that almost perfectly captured the sensation of being in the installation.

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Solar Hibernation

Solar Hibernation was a real feat to get 400-600 meaningful words out of as its concept was at once pretty straightforward and actually quite deep, if you wanted to spend 400 of those words explaining to people how solar flares go through cycles of inactivity, the titular "solar hibernation," a period we are fast approaching. So we kept it simple and presented the installation as fusing design with ecological themes to create a comfortable and safe space to confront as intimidating subject matter. In terms of getting as much milage as we could out of the limited photos taken of the installation, we recreated the ice crystals in the back room to create a cinemagraph starring my arm moving back and forth and another of the rather large circular LED screen that played 'the sun' in this installation (It was later repurposed for the front window of the Prima Facie installation, seen right below. 

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Prima Facie Installation and Movie

As previously mentioned, this was our other big project of the summer and the first change the Gentle Monster USA branch had to really attempt a noteworthy installation on par with the extravagant and meticulous work they do in Korea. As I worked with the designers to develop a thematic through line, we chose to use the nebulous notion of the passage of time, something that always looks different upon second glance (a reference to the installation's title, which is Latin for "on first impression." In keeping the brand at the forefront and in dealing with the subject of time's passage and the histories we make and tell, the back room served as a gallery where symbols of the company's over 30 past Quantum projects hung on the wall. See more here.

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CHRISHABANA Artist Interview

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This was maybe one of the most fun and challenging projects of the summer for me. I've never quite written an extensive magazine-style profile of an artist before, though I've definitely had practice on the way there, so it was a bit new for me doing an interview with mic's and video and for only speaking about two hours total, we got a massive amount of material. Figuring out what the actual story is in a profile piece is the hardest part; of course you are going to talk about how so-and-so got to such-and-such position in such-a-such way, but it's what happened in between those career-defining moments where the real story tends to be. Most importantly, I think Chris had fun and that's really what matters because if the person you're interviewing isn't enjoying being interviewed, then it kind of defeats the point. Either way, this project was a real treat as I would likely have never come across Chris's work or have realized that I actually like it quite a bit.