We talk with the exceptionally chic Alex Eagle on The Store’s new London collaboration.
The Store; a carefully curated blend of retail, dining, broadcasting and creative space is making its way to London from its first space at Soho House Berlin – and to no lesser building than 180 The Strand, the forboding brutalist structure which stands in close proximity to Somerset House and The West End. To coincide with its opening, the space will play host to a new exhibition titled ‘The Infinite Mix’ in collaboration with The Hayward Gallery and music and arts enterprise The Vinyl Factory, showcasing audiovisual work from the likes of Martin Creed and Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster. ‘The Infinite Mix’ will explore the relationship between art and sound, combining thought-provoking documentary, entertaining theatrics and immersive composition.
Ahead of the opening on September 9, we talked to Alex Eagle, creative director of The Store about the upcoming installation and what we can expect.
The Store currently occupies the ground floor of Soho House in Berlin: what motivated you to start The Store and why did you choose that space in Berlin?
The ground floor and basement space in the Soho House Berlin building had incredible ceiling height and light and it wasn’t being used. We took the opportunity to bring something that reflected the creativity and vibrancy of the city to this space – the whole world comes through the Berlin Soho House at some point and therefore it was the perfect place for us to launch The Store. For us, Berlin was the ideal city to begin to incubate our concept because it’s so fluid – driven by creativity with no boundaries between how you live and work.
Now you’re coming to 180 Strand for The Infinite Mix. What attracted you to the project and how did your approach differ for this project?
We are very excited to be hosting a collaboration between The Hayward and The Vinyl Factory for the launch of The Store at our incredible new space in central London. We’ve long been inspired by Ralph Rugoff’s incredible curatorial skills and ideas and of course The Vinyl Factory is known for premiering immersive audio visual experiences by artists such as Ragnar Kjartansson, Carsten Nicolai and Richard Mosse in large scale off-site spaces such as Brewer Street Car Park, so the pair were perfect partners to create this unique experience within The Store. The artworks in The Infinite Mix in every way showcase the fusion of art, music, style and creativity that is the very DNA of The Store.
What can we expect from The Store at 180 The Strand?
The Store at 180 The Strand is the launch of our network of studio spaces in the building called The Store Studios. The Store Studios will also have its hangout and work spaces, books, magazines records to enjoy and The Store Kitchen. All of these elements have their own unique contribution and at this stage this combination of creativity, the kitchen, a social space and places to find inspiration are what drives The Store at 180. Alongside this social space, we’ll offer a handful of curated items inspired by the exhibition – including books, records, t-shirts and some special collaborations to come – working with some great designers and presenting their work in a new way, as an installation and experience.
Pick a few of your favourite pieces from the upcoming ‘The Infinite Mix’ pop-up and tell us why?
We have some unique collaborations underway, all of which reflect the concept behind ‘The Infinite Mix’ – including these top 3 pieces:
A hardback book co-published with The Hayward
T-shirts created in collaboration with Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Stan Douglas, Cameron Jamie, Jeremy Deller
Vinyl editions by The Vinyl Factory with Cameron Jamie (music by Sonic Youth), Stan Douglas (music by Jason Moran) and Jeremy Deller
Whose work are you most excited about hearing/seeing at ‘The Infinite Mix’?
The exhibition as a whole is going to be a pretty incredible experience, with such a variety of artworks on display, but some of the pieces I’m most looking forward to include:
The premiere of Jeremy Deller and Cecilia Bengolea’s first collaboration – they’ve been working with a Japanese dancehall artist in Kingston, Jamaica over the summer and the piece sounds really exciting!
I’m looking forward to seeing Rachel Rose’s film ‘Everything and More’ which samples vocals from Arethra Franklin with hypnotic imagery shot in a NASA astronaut test centre among other spots!
French artist Dominique Gonzales-Foerster’s holographic work is really haunting – she’s presenting a ghostly hologram of opera legend Maria Callas which floats in mid-air.
Cyprien Gaillard’ s piece ‘N ightlife’ will be projected in 3D into the underground car park of 180 The Strand – it’s a perfect example of a work that combines mesmerising imagery, soulful music and a politically charged concept – I can’t wait to see it all in the space itself!
‘The Infinite Mix’ is interesting as it combines not only art and music but also retail and dining in a way that’s very sophisticated and seamless. Do you see this as the future of temporary installations and art events?
I do see this as the future for the use of space, whether it is for work, retail, leisure, dining or inspiration it all merges in to one experience or event. The fact the experience might change in a space for whatever its use is definitely the future.
The Store is not a conventional retail or pop up space. The new future of retail in our opinion is about broadcast and community. You communicate whatever you want to talk about whether it’s fashion or music or culture by inviting people in to experience and hang out or by directly broadcasting to them via all the channels now available. The main aim of The Store is to hang out in it and come and see what’s going on or to provide a platform for people to broadcast from. The first phase of Berlin was to create a place to come and hang out and see what’s going on and the second phase will be the creation of studios to broadcast, communicate and work from.
I love your previous work in both Berlin and the Alex Eagle stores with some really classic British brands usually renowned for their menswear. What drew you to old-world makers like New & Lingwood and Swaine, Adeney and Brigg?
We’ve been lucky enough to collaborate with some fantastic brands over the years – all stemming from the fact that we value craft in contemporary design, and try to bring a new perspective on traditional brands. We’re passionate about the longevity and tradition of these brands, which only exists because of the skill, quality and craft behind them. The items are beautiful, not throwaway. I believe in well made products made to last – from the food to the artwork, furniture – whether they’re past classics of future classics – we have a really exciting future working with artists such as ceramicist Luke Edward Hall, or Romy Northover. New & Lingwood – classic tailors who are known for creating the Eton uniform have collaborated with us on some great unisex luxury items that have a timeless quality. Swaine Adeney and Brigg have been inspiring to work with – creating some beautifully made luggage which can be an everyday item, a design object for the house and something to keep for a lifetime.
The aesthetic of The Store is unique and precise. Talk to us about your main influences for that and how you decided on that distinctive look?
Conventional retail and gallery spaces sometimes seem to be too narrow in what they offer compared to how we live our lives these days. By limiting the offer in a space, you can run the risk of limiting opportunities for communal experiences and an exchange of ideas between creatives, designers, artists and chefs. This is something we wanted to change – to create a unique experience for visitors.
180 The Strand is a unique and special place in London overlooking the Thames, just moments from Somerset House. I’m inspired to create this space in one of London’s most exciting new cultural hubs. The raw industrial look of the space has been a really exciting challenge to bring something new and fresh to – we’re looking forward to it developing in the future with more collaborations.