MCM in Technicolor

MCM teamed up with Tobias Rehberger to make a splash at Art Basel Hong Kong

While there is fashion week in Seoul, MCM skipped town to go to Hong Kong and mingle with the art crowd. Art Basel Hong Kong was the perfect occasion for the Korean leather goods brand to unveil its collaboration with the Frankfurt based artist Tobias Rehberger.

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Old school hard luggage suitcases are back. And yes, when Golden Age travel meets new school art it gets interesting

MCM celebrates its 40th anniversary this year and owner Sungjoo Kim believes in flirting with the art world to come up with new ideas for her brand. In comes Tobias Rehberger, the German art world’s enfant terrible who also co-directs the prominent Frankfurt based art school Staedel. Considering that Martin Kippenberger was one of his first teachers, it comes as no surprise that one of Rehberger’s trademarks is irreverence und unpredictability. For example a highlight in his career was the interior and decor of the cafeteria at the Venice Biennale in 2009 for which he won a Golden Lion as best artist. In short, this sculptor is anti-establishment and more or less a risk for a traditional luxury brand.

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Rehberger certainly took his MCM assigment seriously, all the way to posing with hotel heiress and style icon Nicky Hilton

But since Sungjoo Kim collects groundbreaking artwork from video art pioneer Nam June Paik anyway and is deftly advised on her art investments by Jiyoon Lee, the managing director of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Korea, it comes as no surprise that she happily took the risk to work with Rehberger.

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One of MCM’s bestsellers, the backpack sporting the new logo form

And yes, it paid off. Not only did Rehberger do the favor of reinventing the MCM logo by concentrating or better minimizing the visetos, the signature of most MCM luggage.  First created as a hand drawing, Rehberger blew up the three letters to create a new geometric logo. There is a designated range of accessories with this design like a shopping bag or a pouch.

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Rehberger’s MCM alphabet

But even better, MCM turned over its impressive sub level Hong Kong flagship to Rehberger and his team so he entirely decorated the inside of the store for the occasion. More or less the same what he has done for the cafeterias in Venice. In a day and age, where more and more stores turn to entertainment and video screens to engage the shopper, MCM cleverly turns to a real artist to make the shopping experience special. His tribal camouflage based patterns and wallpapers have a slightly psychedelic effect and are enhanced by the store’s position in a basement so that the escalator ride downstairs becomes a little trip before the shopping begins.

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Escalator, escalator up and down