Think Damien Hirst’s Pharmacy restaurant meets Comme des Garçons’ guerrilla stores, and you’ve got a good picture of what Los Angeles’s forthcoming pop-up retail experiment is all about.
The Brand Pharmacy is the brainchild of two creatives, Ethan Imboden and Philip Wood, who are about to launch their first temporary store, Intervention, in LA’s Third Street shopping district. With the design currently under wraps, Imboden and Wood are transforming the premises of menswear boutique All Purpose into a full-on chemist’s store, to display their range of unusual wares.
For seven days only (3-9 December), All Purpose’s usual interior will be taken down and replaced with hospital curtains on tracks, a dispensing counter and a range of design objects displayed in glass vitrines. Medically themed invites are already making their rounds.
Explaining the brand concept, ‘In the States, to “intervene” is to take a drug or alcohol user away from their normal habits, so this is where the pharmacy theme came from,’ says Wood, who is also director of Citizen: Citizen, a small brand-producer of objects that fuse design with art.
‘We wanted to take shoppers away from their normal habits,’ continues Wood, in his partly West Coast-inflected British accent.
Objects from the Citizen: Citizen collection will sit alongside luxury 24-carat gold vibrators and sex toys from creative director Imboden’s brand, Jimmyjane – a big hit in both the UK and the US. Menswear by All Purpose will complete the shopping mix.
Citizen: Citizen’s range is not the ‘design-art’ of the likes of Zaha Hadid, appearing at Miami’s Art Basel next month, but rather the conceptual college-kid statements of art-meets-design. Take the Untitled notebooks launching here, a range of printers’ blanks being marketed as a clever nod at the mass-producing printing industry being used to produce one-offs. Tobias Wong’s ccPhone is a $2000 (£1000) remodelling of an Apple iPhone, finished with a matt black case and – curiously – loaded with Citizen: Citizen’s address book on v-cards. ‘We’re trying to challenge our own – and others’ – conceptions,’ says Wood.
He and Imboden hope to attract other retailers to host The Brand Pharmacy in the future. ‘We’ll bring new and innovative work into their space, and the good thing is that they don’t have to make a big commitment,’ Wood says.
The pair won’t acknowledge a debt of inspiration to other guerrilla stores (Comme des Garçons’ series is currently operating in Warsaw, Athens and Beirut) or to Damien Hirst’s Pharmacy restaurant (which opened in London’s Notting Hill in 1998). ‘Devices like trunk shows, guerrilla stores and pop-up stores seem to have more contrivance to them,’ claims Wood. ‘And the visual language of the clinic is bigger than Mr Hirst’s,’ he grins. Indeed, the perpetual rehab circus of stars like Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears and Amy Winehouse ensures that the concept is likely to raise a smile.
The Brand Pharmacy’s inaugural store, Intervention, appears from 3-9 December at 144 South Flores Street, Los Angeles, US