Siki Im Gets Building Again

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Published November 5, 2010

 

SIKI IM’S POP-UP INSTALLATION SPACE. PHOTO COURTESY OF SHAWN BRACKBILL.

“I think one of the reasons they chose me,” explains designer Siki Im, “is because I used to be an architect.” Mr. Im is referring to the three-part collaboration between himself, art and design non-profit BOFFO in collaboration with Spilios Gianakopoulos, and an architect of his choosing. The result is a pop-up installation, part store and part exhibit, displayed underneath the Highline industrial space HL23. For their series “Building Fashion,” New York-based BOFFO has brought in Richard Chai (with architect Snarkitecture) and House of Waris (with an installation by architect Christian Wassmann); now, Siki Im sets to close out the series with his architect partner, firm Leong Leong. Using the site Architizer, which is a sort of message and job board for cutting-edge interior specialists and architects, BOFFO put out a call for applications. The job: to create a temporary, inexpensive place for a designer to display their wares. The temporary location would be up for one week, during which BOFFO would host an opening event and showcase both designer and architect. The designers, which also included Chai, Waris, Heather Huey and Simon Spurr, got to hand-pick their favorite applicants. “I loved working with Leong Leong. Like me, they are a new company, and we came up with a scheme that will help to support and express the language of my brand.”

For Im, that language is certainly the reason why BOFFO selected the multi-national Oxford grad. Certainly, his familiarity with the world of construction was a boon, but Im’s fashion credentials are even more impressive. Having worked as senior designer for both Karl Lagerfeld and Helmut Lang, Im’s recent collections have been lauded by the blog community as uniquely visionary. Focusing on structure and an abundance of well-tailored layers, Im’s collection of stark, dramatic materials and cuts are reminiscent of Rick Owens (if Owens ever ventured into office-wear). Also, with an assortment of sizes and additions of ties, leather harnesses and expertly adjustable sweaters and blazers (single-sleeve shrugs make several appearances), Siki Im’s entire collection is, for all intents and purposes, unisex. “I like to propose a different view of certain things we take for granted,” he says of his genderless collection.

This sentiment is echoed in his structure, which is, as he jokingly describes, “a ramp or a skate half-pipe.” The clothing is displayed at both ends of the pipe, and in order to explore, Im asks that viewers take off their shoes to get to know each other. “Some people will like it and some people will think it’s awkward. I want to challenge the retail space; it doesn’t need to be a rackful of clothes and cashier.” By making people feel more intimate whilst shopping, he hopes to destroy what he calls “the linear space” of the traditional store. Im’s specialty, then, is the blurring of boundaries: public and private, fashion and architecture, male and female.

Of course, conceptual ideas and genre-bending isn’t just what Im is all about. The designer is quick to explain that for his opening, food trucks and drinks will be present, and he’s teamed up to make totes with Lower East Side retailer Project No. 8. He has events and plans in store, but after the intensive job of creating the High Line exhibit, the ex-architect admits that a stand-alone retail location isn’t in his near future. Especially if he’s the one to build it.

VISIT BUILDING FASHION AT HL23 PRESENTS SIKI IM FROM NOVEMBER 5–15, NOON TO SIX P.M. TO LEARN MORE, VISIT BUILDING FASHION’S WEBSITE.