Gentle Monster

Gentle Monster; the innovative merger of art and retail

In 2021 brands find themselves in constant pursuit of finding creative ways that engage shoppers in-store, as a response to the increasing trend of purchases occurring online. Leading the way is SKP, one of China’s most luxurious department stores; presenting an avant-garde take on retail with the help of eyewear brand Gentle Monster and architects SYBARITE. The 19,000-square-metre retail space boldly disrupts the current retail typology; its experimentation and art installations transporting customers into an alternate universe - the ‘Mars zone’.

Gentle Monster

Inviting customers on a journey, unlike any other; SKP-S’s main 500 square meter entrance hosts a non-commercial space dedicated to an expansive art installation. 


Equally renowned for its trendy eyewear and their destination stores, Gentle Monster was presented with the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to “take its house style out of the house” in collaboration with SKP. Entitled ‘Digital-Analog Future’, the Martian-inspired concept foresees a world where the boundaries between the digital and human realms are blurred as a result of the advancement of technology; in turn, new forms of evolution beyond our imagination are enabled. 


Gentle Monster

Curators and retailers Gentle Monster bring their innovative in-store concepts to 41 locations; each store incorporating pop-up sculptures, alien-like displays, art pieces and of course – high-end eyewear. 




Whilst in its ‘humble’ beginnings Gentle Monster gained initial exposure by gaining the attention of KOLs (i.e. key opinion leaders), the eyewear brand masterfully ensured that the SKP-S retail spaces were as functional as they were Instagram-worthy. On the second floor, the architecture reflects life on planet Mars; including the shopping experience where luxurious brands’ offerings and current aesthetic trends are reimagined. Alongside an impressive spacecraft model and other mythical memorabilia, four zones feature various well-known apparel brands. Adding more to the experience, the concept café situated on the third floor serves edible creations shaped like an ear, mushroom and so on that further reinforce the Martian theme envisioned by the dynamic duo. 


Gentle Monster

A portal connecting Earth to the Red Planet; the transformative architecture creatively transports visitors to the future through glass tunnels, infinity escalators, domed environments. 


The goal was for the retail space to become a must-see destination for both locals and those visiting Beijing. Recognising and adapting to the shift in consumer attitudes and preferences, SKP-S’ landscape constantly innovates its ever-changing landscape; each floor representing visitors with a different perspective and evoking a multitude of feelings. By reducing functional areas, its creators challenge the preconceived notion that this would negatively affect the business; instead, they believe that the “balance of maintaining both commercial and non-commercial spaces is the key to long-term growth”. 


Gentle Monster

SKP-S moves away from the bright, white spaces we have become accustomed to; instead, digital and installations punctuate the floors and gradually immerse visitors into the ‘Mars zone’.  


Gentle Monster’s intimate yet theatrical approach to retail cleverly adds layers of richness to offerings. The art of storytelling is used strategically to knit a narrative into a design; incentivising shoppers to visit their distinct destination spaces, and potentially spend more time – and ideally money – in the process. Whilst all stores are unique in their own way, the Korean brand ensures that they provide a coherent experience by using one voice to tell the Gentle Monster story.  


Gentle Monster

A go-to destination; the concept store resembles a contemporary gallery space; the products being sold are displayed amongst the ever-changing themed sculptures and installations. 




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If you need help making customer experience central to your retail strategy, we’d like to offer you a complimentary strategy call with our Managing Director and Head of Strategy, Grant Davidson. Having nearly 30 years of industry experience working with groundbreaking brands, Grant has the experience and knowledge necessary to identify your core brand strategy and communicate it effectively.


Written by Michael Callan
Mike is Davidson's Group Design Director with extensive experience across the corporate, retail and consumer goods sectors. Over his 25 year career, Mike has been recognised as a multi-award-winning designer - including AGDA, Melbourne & New York Design Awards.
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