Germaine Kruip X Raf Simons for Jil Sander

” LESS IS MORE: The new Jil Sander store in Manhattan takes a novel approach to merchandising — no merchandise displays

“Visitors to the new Jil Sander store, which opened last week on the corner of Howard and Crosby Streets in SoHo, might be surprised to walk in and find the place totally empty. 

Not a bag, shoe, or double-faced cashmere coat in sight.

The design of the store, which will, in theory, serve as the template for other Jil Sander stores, was a collaboration between Raf Simons, who has been the creative director of the minimalist luxury brand since 2005, and Germaine Kruip, a 38-year-old Dutch artist who creates quiet, meditative works using little more than space and light. “Germaine’s work is very subtle,”
Simons says. “Very often people don’t even notice it’s there.”

The vast ground floor, which is entered from Howard Street, is anchored at each end with a system of louvers that rotate at regular intervals to enclose the entire space in whiteness or open it up to reflected glimpses of the outside. Kruip refers to this architectural intervention as the creation of a “mind space.” And in fact, the space functions as a sort of portal — a conceptual air lock that allows you to smoothly acclimate from the borderland of Canal Street to the promise of a world where clean lines are next to godliness. Whether customers are indeed inspired to pause long enough to take it all in, or pass right through to the grand marble staircase and up to the second floor where the various Jil Sander collections are actually displayed, or simply turn around and walk out the door confused — remains to be seen.

Simons says he likes to think of this ground-floor space as a “laboratorium” — a vital project room as opposed to a sterile gallery — that can be programmed and configured every six weeks. Eventually it may contain mannequins dressed in the new collection from Milan, or the multimedia accouterments of a new fragrance campaign, or even actual merchandise.

“There has been a lot of talk about the evolution of retail environments,” Simons says.

“But to me, it feels right to do something with space and light that breathes. I think it’s a form of luxury not to open the door and get hit over the head with a bag.” Raf Simons

” – by Alix Browne
“The turning mirrors create a space that is in a constantly in flux, the visitor entering the space is confronted with their reflection appearing and disappearing. The reflection of the light caused by the movement of the mirrors changes the experience of time and space, your entrance, your passage, your personal walk through the shop.” – Germaine Kruip 

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