it’s not right but it’s okay
Anouchka Oler, 2013
During the 80’s the then-directors of Esprit Holdings, Douglas and Susie Tompkins, commissioned Sottsass Associati (Ettore Sottsass’s agency for design and architecture created in 1980) to design numerous stores and showrooms for Esprit including the headquarter in Düsseldorf and a shop in Cologne. I happened to be in Cologne about one or two months ago. I pre-mystified my experience quite carefully and thought I would have to look at each of the three Esprit shops in the city and analyse them, decide whether or not they were it. Because my Boutique’s book stayed back home, my unreliable memory was the only thing I could depend on to guess what could be the design leftovers, if there were any. On a Wednesday, I had a few hours to spend and eventually relax. A mix of paint and old bits of nail polish covering my hands, I entered an aggressive beauty shop in the city center in where I got nail polish removers travel wipes along with a pale but bright green nail polish. My purchases in hands, I walked toward the Dome on my way to my hostel. A dense pack of tourists and some extra time pushed me inside the Hohe Strasse’s Esprit shop. That very move cancelled my searches to come.
The three floors had been entirely redesigned to suffer a global design drive. Though, the new interior design seemed to conserve a thin link with the Memphis spirit but as an extremely sweetened and softened version. I was certainly imagining this insignificant homage: discreet lavender and pink pattern on the wall, between a marble pattern and the endlessly fashionable leopard skin. Sottsass’s design had been erased in order to be replaced by a pale and not mind-minding version of what it was. Clearly I wanted to be comprehensive meanwhile being disappointed; to accuse them of destroying something I thought deserved to be conserved didn’t seem very realistic regarding the fact that it was in the path of what became a huge multinational. Being very apologetic, I considered that maybe it would have been hard for Esprit to entertain its new desires and pretend to be at its best with a design that can appear to be dated to its costumers. Though, Sottsass was already at that time reacting to these cheap and false materials overused in mass-produced furniture of the 70’s. For all these reasons the shop or what it was seemed trapped in a strange loop.
Exhibition It is forbidden to feed the sculptures, until June 30, OG2/ Kölnischer Kunstverein
Performance Living Statue/Dead Design: June 30, 4pm, Esprit Shop, Hohe Straße 160, Köln