HRY SPACE Brings Iconic and Millennial-Favorite Art To A NYC Retail Store
Brick & mortar is on a constant decline, no doubt about it. Just take a stroll on Fifth Avenue or Spring & Mercer, you will still see the traffic of people walking & passing, but across the window display, you will most of the time see store employees looking at the pedestrians, yearning for them to go inside. With the ease of shopping online and accuracy of online clothing size reference, having a physical retail store in Manhattan paying the premium amount of rent while seeing the sale on the constant decline is not the wise thing to do.
People across the world are experimenting with new ideas to rejuvenate brick & mortar, from conglomerates such as Amazon integrating its prime shopping seamlessly with physical Whole Foods stores, to streetwear brands such as Kith adopting to the “drop” model for which release limited amount of individual clothing and sneakers at a specific retail store’s particular hours. Most ideas are focusing on blending the experience between online & physical location, making the physical store more like an experiential enjoyment.
Recently, another new retail concept comes into the posh Tribeca neighborhood, aiming to re-define retail with a fine art angle. Enter HRY SPACE, located at 45 Renwick Street, a street known for being quiet, having $1 million parking spot, and houses billionaires.
HRY SPACE, according to its website, “inherits both the intelligence of art and the experimentality of retailing.” That sounds very vague to us, but we somehow get the hint that they will be playing with a similar offline-online integration concept like other innovative retail stores. As we decided to dig more online, discovering HRY SPACE’s Instagram page yielded quite a surprise:
People are taking photos with Takashi Murakami x Virgil Abloh collaboration artworks, the kind that’s on canvas, not print; The two-meter Murakami flower cushion casually laying on the ground. From the other posts, we peeked an immaculate Josh Sperling and Sam Friedman creating a powerful duo, the other wall Cleon Peterson & Shepard Fairey’s works engaging in a quite interesting conversation. And of course Daniel Arsham’s iconic sculpture plus one larger-than-life crystal patch on the corner? This curation from what we see on the photo is honestly one of the best curations in New York City with a focus on artists that are impacting millennial culture worldwide.
There are two types of artists in this world: The kind that only selected few elites know about and invest in, have exhibitions in private art museums and generate commanding prices in auction markets, yet for people not involved in the art market, they have no idea what those artworks are, even if you put them on the street.
Then there’s another group of artists; they are like rockstars in their prime, the Warhol, Basquiat type that whatever they say or do will be published and documented by media platforms. This group of artists create not only in the fine art realm, but also develop products that sell beyond the white wall. Rugs, cushions, vases, you name it. Their influence is religion-like among young people, the gospels are widespread globally via Instagram, the platform known for visual messages which are perfect for fine art.
HRY SPACE is about that group of artists. From our discussion with the store staff, the artwork exhibited at HRY SPACE is from HRY COLLECTION, started by Mr.Roy Huang, a Director Council member of MoMA and an entrepreneur in China’s beauty and fashion field. (That’s how the name of “HRY” comes into being, in China we learned people say their last name first) Walking into HRY SPACE, I was surprised by the ceiling light and height; it’s quite something rare to see from a Tribeca gallery or retail store. On the floor and ceiling “HRY” vinyl letters are present throughout, with artworks on the white wall. This reminds me of the billboards at soccer games and NBA games: the sponsor (in this case, HRY) sponsored the art to be shown for the public for free, in turn, the sponsor’s name is known.
Whenever people take a photo of Takashi Murakami, Virgil Abloh’s work at HRY SPACE, “HRY’ the art collector’s name will be present, it’s an organic match from my perspective, because Mr.Huang could have chosen to kept the art in storage or his living room, but he decided to share it with the NYC community for free, at the same time builds up his personal brand with minimum marketing cost. (Even though the bulk of the costs are in the artworks, which are some very sounding investments and heavily insured.)
The clothing products at HRY SPACE are kept on the mannequins with heads of David and Venus, those mannequins we learned are fiberglass sculptures from a to-be-announced street artist who will come to HRY SPACE and spray paint the face of David & Venus. Then rare Supreme, Off-White, and HRY’s fashion garments will be worn by David and Venus, this is quite an ingenious way to blend the boundary between art and commerce.
HRY brand will also release products in the accessories and beauty industry, with one product each kept in the museum-quality glass display stand. As we had a discussion with the store staff, we also learned that HRY SPACE would not hold any inventory of the products, which means only one piece of each clothing will be kept on David and Venus sculptures, only one box of eyeshadow palette will be kept in the display stands. Every order at HRY SPACE needs to be placed online, with special limited items being released in store’s geolocation and the orders have to be placed via phone within 100 feet of the store. This reminds me of the HYPEFEST’s Rimowa x Virgil Abloh luggage drop via the phone, no physical lines were formed to get the product, all products are a result of a competition between you and the other’s wifi speed, and if you are lucky to get one, the product will be shipped directly to your home.
I also learned that HRY SPACE will soon host art yoga sessions before the opening hours from 7-10am every day, and creative panel talks every week. This is quite a unique idea to move beyond a retail store, with a hint of an art gallery, gym, conference room all merged, utilizing space’s artistic core to the maximum. Traffic is key for a brand or store, and HRY SPACE is sufficiently generating that without hurting artists’ rights because HRY SPACE is open for free to public other than charging a fee for the exhibition.
HRY SPACE opens seven days a week, from 11 am to 5 pm. The yoga and panel talks are announced via email to those who have booked tickets to HRY SPACE.
If you are in NYC and love art and the streetwear culture, or if you are anywhere else in the world who wants to see the iconic contemporary artworks you like all in one space, you need to come to HRY SPACE and experience it yourself, while doing your product checkouts on your phone.