Bhakti Sharma (b. 1980), Honey, I shrunk the retail, 2018; mixed media collage, 10 x 30 inches; Lent by the artist
Screening | WALLPAPER THE FRONTYARD
Friday, September 14, 2018, 10 am–10 pm
Experience, culture, texture, color, and patronage of the arts are the pillars on which high-end retail is standing. Flagship stores are retail environments where sales are secondary to the experiential, social, and branding functionalities. The branding functions of flagship stores are brand awareness instrumental in creating a new market, brand loyalty for nurturing existing relations, or for the purpose of brand reverence in proposing a shrine for brand followers. But are these brand tactics new or have they been used to sell and barter for centuries?
The patronage of the arts and saving the local culture by using brand monograms, bespoke architectural and interior details to create customized designer experiences is a formula that high-end retail has been experimenting for centuries. Inspired by the Prada Wallpaper project, this project titled ‘Wallpaper the Frontyard’ is homage to the fashion brands, their inspirations, their artistry, and finally their transcendence beyond fashion.
The artist took these images over a course of two to three years. While taking the image there may or may not have been a connection with her research, but while telling the story of her research on retail by abstraction, these images fit. You will see images representing the comparison of the Trajan market retail area with the Louis Vuitton store retail area. In a corresponding piece titled ‘Honey, I shrunk the retail’ (2018) exhibited at the BPAC, the portrayal of displaced retail is showcased. The wallpaper further showcases the increased size of flagship stores. While flagship stores are flagship stores are 8-10 times larger than a store by the same brand, the retail functionality in flagship stores is only between 20-30% of the space. These experiential stages called flagship stores often encompass the local culture which is portrayed in the video using imagery from Buffalo including the snow on the clerestory windows at the Burchfield. And what better way to tie these together than color and texture.
The artist is telling the story of retail brands and the elements of provocation that they apply to create an experience, to adapt to the local environment, to offer patronage to local artists and the arts, and to exhibit their brand and monograms in a subliminal manner.
Prada. (2018). Retrieved from http://www.prada.com/en/a-future-archive/projects/specials/wallpaper.html
Bhakti Sharma, Associate Professor, Interior Design, Art and Design Department