Prada New York EpicenterEdit profile
New York’s Prada Epicenter – an exclusive boutique, a public space, a gallery, a performance space, a laboratory – is part of OMA*AMO’s ongoing research into shopping, arguably the last remaining form of public activity, and a strategy to counteract and destabilize any received notion of what Prada is, does, or will become. As museums, libraries, airports, hospitals, and schools become increasingly indistinguishable from shopping centres, their adoption of retail for survival has unleashed an enormous wave of commercial entrapment that has transformed museum-goers, researchers, travelers, patients, and students into customers. The result is a deadening loss of variety. What were once distinct activities no longer retain the uniqueness that gave them richness. What if the equation were reversed, so that customers were no longer identified as consumers, but recognized as researchers, students, patients, museum-goers? What if the shopping experience were not one of impoverishment, but of enrichment? The New York Prada Epicenter is a conversion of a 23,000 square-foot space in SoHo formerly belonging to the Guggenheim museum. The Wave – a curving space scooped out of the ground floor and opening it up to the basement – is the main element facilitating experimentation in what a fashion store can be. On one side, the slope has steps – ostensible for displaying shoes and accessories – that can be used as a seating area, facing a stage that unfolds from the other side of the wave. The store thus becomes a venue for film screenings, performances, and lectures. The northern wall of the store runs uninterrupted between the entrances on Broadway and Mercer Street (which offer a new pedestrian link directly through the city block), and offers itself as a surface for a giant mural – the Prada wallpaper – that changes on a regular basis. The wallpaper defines a theme for an exhibition that infiltrates spaces throughout the store: videos on plasma screens hanging on railings between items of clothing, books piled next to shoes, interactive monitors. Experimental technology, intriguing materials, and innovative display methods are utilized everywhere to enrich and transcend the shopping experience: customers touch a button to make the glass doors of the changing rooms opaque, and see their new clothes from various angles on video projections; a circular glass elevator serves as a display area for accessories as well as a means of transport to the basement; unfinished gypsum board walls on one side of the store contrast with a translucent polycarbonate wall overlaying the original brick structure on the other; movable large metal cages hang from the ceiling for the display of clothes; an all-white “clinic” area contains VIP rooms and tailoring and catering facilities.