On a recent weekend trip to Los Angeles, we decided to stroll through the quickly transforming downtown and seek out unique retail design. We were blown away by the second US location of Gentle Monster, a Korean eyewear company. The Gentle Monster brand designs unique salesfronts that focus on high-end experimentation. They are known for the integration of product, space, styling, culture redesign, and technology. Their Los Angeles concept store is located on Broadway Street, in the historic theater district. The street is lined with derelict old movie theatres and performance halls from the 1920s, but the area is undergoing a design resurgence. The Gentle Monster shop's facade successfully blends historic exterior elements with a modern window package, all painted a monochromatic black/green.
Once inside, you find yourself in a room that feels like a contemporary art gallery. It takes some time to wander around the columns of abalone, mirrors and abruptly rotating straw bales before reaching the opening into the sales area. The space is punctuated by kinetic sculptures and unique finishes, all in a harvest theme.
A plush carpet with memory foam underlay makes one feel like they are walking on a freshly plowed field. Metal rods topped with chain evoke a rice field ready for harvest. In the center is a large kinetic sculpture inspired by traditional threshing methods. All the while, a bell intermittently chimes, signaling the end of harvest. And of course, there are shelves and pedestals scattered along the perimeter with glasses of every style.
Each employee at Gentle Monster plays a dual role: one part retail–sales consultant, one part art gallery docent. Needless to say, we were captivated by all of their offerings, so we went ahead and bought some sunglasses.