Made up of over 150 monitors, the video installation at Hollister’s New York City flagship store transmits a live feed from Huntington Beach Pier in California to the middle of Soho.
The video feed (along with pumped-in scents, topless male store greeters and surfer wear) is a standard component of Hollister’s hyper-branded retail spaces, but the combination of old cast-iron building stylings with giant screen displays create a unique experience for visitors. Meyers + Associates Architecture, working in close collaboration with the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, set the screens in the historic window frames of the otherwise windowless store, essentially making the primary light source of this archetypical New York building, sunny California. The hollowed out central volume of the building is occupied by a staircase that ascends with the screens, giving you the sensation of being underwater and literally submerged in the shopping experience. The repetitive and hypnotic sound of waves induces a contemplative state in shoppers that contrasts with (or perhaps elevates) the consumerist activity of the space. Ironically, the mediated experience of a California beach in an urban environment reminded at least this New Yorker of our own proximity to rising waters.