NEW YORK, Oct 17, 2009 / FW/ — Just by its name, the term visual merchandising is largely “visual”, but Sebastien Agneessens and Kyle Fischer, who are both artists and musicians, redefined it by creating MMIX, a sound installation at the Sportmax boutique in SoHo.
A numerical play on the year in which the project was created and a reference to Sportmax’s Italian heritage, MMIX redeploys the concept of the remix to highlight the value of ethno-diversity in a modern world defined by rapid globalization.
Composed of six totemic speakers made of replicated zebrawood, an endangered species native to the Congo, and then adorned with iconic brand marks, the multi-channel installation establishes a dialogue between contemporary music and archival field recordings of vanishing cultures from around the globe.
With these field recording being played inside the store instead of the canned “shopping music” that we are used to, a new kind of awareness, which could be subliminal at times add to the retail experience.
As had been mentioned here before, most stores have chosen to be formulaic when it come to visual merchandising, to the point that it had become boring. In short, like the zebrawood which the installation is trying to save, visual merchandising has also become an endangered species.
And, it is in installations like this, in a high street boutique like Sportmax that hope is renewed for visual merchandising. For a little bit of trivia, 100 years ago, in the turn of the century New York City, there was a fierce competition between the Ad Men, as in advertising men and the Visual Men, as in visual merchandisers.
Today, the Ad Men are collectively called Madison Avenue, even part of popular culture, thanks to the Emmy Award winning show, “AdMen”. But, visual merchandising is virtually gone; the Visual Men are nowhere to be found.
That a great example of a modern approach to visual merchandising will be seen at Sportmax might be surprising to many, yet to Sebastien Agneessens, SportMax was an obvious choice as a partner for the MMIX project.
“I recently discovered the Archives of the World, the first global color photography survey initiated by French philanthropist Albert Kahn at the beginning of the 20th century. His collection of autochromes testifies to the arresting richness and diversity of indigenous cultures from around the world,” related Agneessens.
“These images are a great source of inspiration in today’s fashion, and encourage people to express their individuality and celebrate the diversity of the world, which is very much in line with the Sportmax philosophy,” he concluded.
A Sound Installation by Sebastien Agneessens and Kyle Fischer
September 10 to December 10, 2009
At SPORTMAX SoHo
450 West Broadway
New York NY 10013