[VIEWPOINT]The new age of art marketingAoyama is an area of Tokyo with many famous fashion stores and trendy restaurants. A new building that instantly catches one’s eye with its cut diamond-like form has been constructed in this quiet yet cutting edge neighborhood. The building houses the new store of internationally famous brand Prada and was designed by Swiss architects Jacques Herzorg and Pierre De Meuron, who won international fame with the architectural design of the Tate Modern museum in London.
This ultimate crossover of an international fashion brand using internationally recognised architectural designers is rapidly becoming a new fad. Architect Rem Koolhaas, known to Koreans for his design of the newly opened Leeum Museum in Seoul, designed the Prada store in Soho, New York. The master of deconstructionism Frank Gehry, who designed the Guggenheim Museum in New York, has also designed the Issey Miyake store in Chelsea, New York. Likewise, architect Renzo Piano, who is famous for designing the Pompidou Center’s graphic art gallery in Paris, designed the Hermes store in Ginza, Tokyo.
The examples in which globally famous architects have designed stores for international fashion houses are almost countless.
The fashion brands that choose to use these famous designers have numerous stores throughout the world, but by adding the fame of an international architect to important strategically chosen stores, they maximize the value and prestige of their brand. Also, on the part of the architects, they can transmit their unique sense of cutting-edge space aesthetics to ordinary people by designing a small but sensually fashionable space to greet the general public. In other words, the fashion brands and architects can create a successful synergy through art marketing.
Such fashion corporations are also actively involved in businesses that support the art world: They establish art foundations, collect artworks and reward new artists and collections through sponsorship of art prizes. Sometimes, fashion companies commission artists for product concepts and designs and reflect the ideas of artists in their actual products. A recent example is Louis Vuitton’s collaboration with the Japanese international neo-pop artist Takashi Murakami. Murakami changed the conservative and heavy image of the traditional Louis Vuitton monogram by changing the background to white, transforming the overall image into a light and colorful one which received explosively positive reactions from consumers.
However, it is not just fashion companies that are active in art marketing. Unilever, the international manufacturer of leading brands in home and personal care, has joined with the biggest modern art gallery in Europe, the Tate Modern, to start a business that supports huge installation art projects. The displays are shown in the enormous Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern, and have so far included the individual works of famous artists, such as Bruce Nauman, Louise Bourgeois and Olafur Eliasson. This project was made possible owing to the spacious interior of the Tate Modern and the financial support of Unilever.
In Korea, it is well-known that Samsung Group is involved in many projects that render support to various cultural fields, including fine art.
Although the scale of the projects may be smaller, one Korean success story in art marketing is the fashion brand Ssamzie. Ssamzie has been publishing artists’ works in its advertisements for a few years, and continues to do so. It also runs a studio program for young artists. Through marketing so deeply related to the art world, the company has been able to enhance its recognition and the value of its brand without spending a lot of money on advertising.
I am confident that the practice of businesses utilising art marketing will grow more active, as the desire and demand for culture rises over time. Art marketing is not used widely in Korea as publicity for companies yet, but in an age where the leisure of the mind and differentiated senses are important, it will spread rapidly, sooner or later.
The practice will spread because art marketing is an ideal tool that can lead to a win-win-win relationship for company, artist and customer in this age of sensitivity.
* The writer is the president of PKM Gallery. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.
by Park Kyung-mee