Miami Pop-Ups: Neon Monster

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Published December 4, 2009

PHOTO BY LEILA BRILLSON

Situated in Miami’s Design District, diagonal from the Fendi/Maison Martin Margiela shared pop-up and that of purse mistress Katherine Fleming is a colorful, hallucinogenic temporary shop with a large, dopey monster in front. Miami’s Moore Building, about a block and a half away from Design Miami, hosts Limited Edition Experiences, a collection of the best temporary shops during Design Week; but this one-eyed, polyurethane creature stands out amongst the high-end fashion and observers. Neon Monster, which flies in from San Francisco, has girded itself at Design Week this year to run with power players in Florida, hoping that its broad price points (toys and collectibles run from $10-$3,000) will lure buyers away from more established brands.

A man in a three-piece suit purchases a T-shirt with Monster’s dejected looking mascot, Mitch, on the front. A pretty girl from the Maison Martin Margiela store downstairs stops by to browse small, vinyl ice-cream-like dollops, made by graffiti-and-toy master Buff Monster. Buff Monster has traveled from California to do a live-painting of Mitch, for media outlets like CBS or Vanity Fair. The fact that something so street, so “plastic” has made its way into the Design Miami landscape seems to intrigue them. Owner Jacob Pritzker understands this, making sure that he and partners Kristy Klinck and John Crowe have created enough bespoken objects. Pritzker, of the noted Chicago family, knows his stuff: not unlike Fendi and Margiela, Neon Monster offers original, exclusive pieces, like resin snails, t-shirts and prints by emerging artist Rueben Rude.

Buff Monster spent his day painting, drawing a younger, more digital crowd who heard about the live project via blogs, while an older generation watched, bemused. Yet Monster’s “high art at a low price” mentality appears to be paying off. Klinck explains, as she wraps up some objects for a Fendi employee’s kids, “We’ve been selling really well here. I think a customer wants to bring something special, but accessible, home, regardless of price, and still know its a limited-edition artwork made by a known artist.”