Centerfold, Genius in a Bottle, June 2012
by Jim Shi
Pop-up shop as art installation. A simple enough idea on paper. The realization process, however, was a bit more complicated. Transforming a long, narrow 200-square-foot storefront into an immersive experience of Odin New York fragrances and candles required Snarkitecture principals Daniel Arsham and Alex Mustonen to blur the line between sculpture and commerce. They initially considered imitating the black-on-black of Odin’s packaging. “We thought it would inform the design directly, resulting in a dark and glossy space,” Mustonen says. Instead, after coming to the conclusion that the black could be constricting and uninviting, what they actually produced was the polar opposite, a whiteout.
Featuring 1,500 identical replicas of the Odin bottle, cast in matte white gypsum-cement, plus a few real black glass Odin bottles sprinkled throughout as points of reference, the sculpture at the center of the pop-up ran from back to front, along the floor, then curved upward near the entrance and ultimately flowed onto the ceiling. For the floor portion of the sculpture, the replica bottles perched directly on the tops of individual rods, while groups of rods supported black boxes containing LEDs to up-light the real bottles, their bases surrounded by pillowlike forms also cast in gypsum cement. For the rest of the sculpture, replica bottles were suspended from the ceiling on aircraft cable, upside down.
This folded “surface defined by points,” as Arsham describes it, took a familiar object and used it to temporarily create a sense of disorientation. “Our vision for a space tends to focus on a singular defining gesture,” he adds. “Here, that gesture allowed Odin’s product to jump out.” And so it did during the six weeks that the pop-up operated in New York, before embarking on a trip to London, Paris, and Tokyo.