Riccardo Tisci’s renovation places an installation by Hudson at the heart of the Regent Street store
Riccardo Tisci unveiled a new Burberry logo and monogram last month, following his unexpected appointment as the label’s new chief creative officer earlier in the year. But Tisci’s remodelling of the brand hasn’t stopped there. This weekend, Burberry’s flagship store on Regent Street reopens with a new look curated entirely by the former Givenchy designer.
The refurb draws focus to the heritage of both the brand and the building. Drapes, which fringe each room, are a throwback to 121 Regent Street’s history as a theatre, while nineteen (yes, nineteen) shades of beige across the monochromatic furnishings evoke Burberry’s signature pieces. The pieces themselves are compartmentalised throughout the store: individual spaces are dedicated to the Heritage Trench coat, Burberry’s vintage check, archival print scarves, rows of pistachio-coloured footwear, and so on. Each dedicated space is laid out for gallery-type viewing and will remain in store until October 3. Everything, down to specific ornaments, is hand-curated by Tisci.
What’s most striking about the remodelled store, though, is the commissioned installation by Graham Hudson, a British artist who specialises in large scale constructions with interactive elements. (As first artist-in-residence at the Chelsea College of Art’s Millbank site, he built a two-storey ‘sculpture’ that he lived in for the duration of the residency.) Hudson’s Burberry store installation is called Sisyphus Reclined, and you literally can’t miss it: a scaffold that takes centre stage in the atrium, towering three storeys high.
The repurposed metal scaffolding provides a stark contrast to the soft furnishings and sleek velvet, wooden, and glass plinths that decorate the rest of the store. “It really turns up the volume on the textures of the installation,” says Hudson. “You know, it's dirt; it's always had a previous life; the scuffs, the breaks, those are much more apparent here than if we were looking at this on the concrete floor surrounded by the standard white walls.”
What’s more, Sisyphus Reclined is functional, housing a complex “photogrammetry rig” on its top floor. Here, 80 cameras can capture a person or object, which can then be processed on the second floor of the scaffold – which customers can freely visit – and “milled” into a 3D object by a robot at ground level. All very high tech, but Hudson intends to throw some figurative spanners in the works. “We’re going to put the wrong materials in with the robot sometimes,” he says. “This company that have made this photogrammetry rig work, the one thing they’ve said to me is it has to be on a concrete floor. To get good results you can’t have any movement. This was about as high up and wobbly a place as we could put it, so that the building and this project, the scaffolding, becomes folded into the data in a way as it wobbles.”
“At the beginning, Burberry said, ‘We just want you to do what you want,’ and they’ve stuck to that all the way” – Graham Hudson
As for how the project came about, Hudson doesn’t have any previous links to Burberry but reckons Tisci might have picked him out for his DIY, construct-it-as-you-go-along artistic process, which was the only way such a large sculpture could realistically be made to fit inside the store. “It'd be difficult to get a big Anish Kapoor in here, with the door size,” as the artist points out, and removing the door of the listed building was out of the question.
Despite no previous connection between the artist and the brand, though, Tisci must have had a fair amount of faith in Hudson, who says the chief creative officer carved him “a physical and conceptual space for freedom”.
“At the beginning, Burberry said, ‘We just want you to do what you want,’ and they’ve stuck to that all the way,” Hudson explains. “No one’s ever asked me to check in about how I am talking about bodies or ideas about the near future. Which is better than your average museum curator.”
Hudson also lauded Tisci’s artistic approach to the store, saying that his curation and layout of the product-specific areas made working together feel “almost like a two-person show with a fashion designer”.
Even with all his freedom, though, Hudson had to remind himself not to be too influenced by the precision and intricacy of the luxury garments that surround his artwork, saying: “The thing to keep reminding myself was to not neaten it up. The curatorial decision has been about the difference. And already I keep getting worried about things dropping off the installation, and on the lovely carpet. But in a way I shouldn't, because that's not my fault. So that's always been a bit of a discipline: I've tried to remind myself to keep messy.”
Sisyphus Reclined will remain at Burberry’s flagship store until October 26. Limited edition pieces from Riccardo Tisci’s first runway collection will also be available in the store following his debut for the label at 5.30pm, September 17.