That Paul Smith Pink Wall
And our sign spinner!
To get this conversation started we decided to put a champion sign spinner in front of one of the most championed walls in the world and let two of LA's hallmarks go at it (our jeans were $125 then!).
Film by: Clarence Fuller + Double Eleven
So what is it about this wall that's made it one of the most photographed pieces of concrete in the world. There are lots of elements in play here photographically, so let's put Instagram to one side for a moment.
It's rare to see one surface, this large, painted in such a bold, distinctive color. The particular hue of pink they have created has a dusty yet pop yet friendly play to it. And then to paint a modern, cube shaped building in it beneath the continually bright blue sky of LA, with it's unobstructed sunbeams, well you have a recipe for visual candy before you even get into composition.
Even looking at this page now, there is something satisfying, playful and resoundingly modern about the color contrast against the white background. It's primary yet not a prime color, maybe there's a new category; 'pop prime'. Anyway you get my drift, it's an instinctual attraction, to which I'm sure there are volumes of psychology books that would help us understand why, but we don't have the time today!
Usually this scale of clean surface or backdrop is reserved for the inside of a photo or film studio. So when it comes to composition, one can automatically delve into a whole host of options whether you be pro or passerby. And in a digital age where standing out and catching the eyes of the world is the MO, this space serves up a banquet of opportunity in every direction.
When Paul Smith opened his LA flagship in 2005, Instagram hadn't even been conceived of. Facebook was just getting going and the opportunity of sharing media was limited to a few platforms. 'Sharing' hadn't even become the social cornerstone in the psyche that we know it as today.
On any given day when you drive past 8221 Melrose Avenue, you will see lines of people eagerly awaiting their turn to stand in front of the famous pink wall and do their thing, whatever that thing is; jump, walk, pose, dance, you name it they're doing it. Even cocky bastards spinning a sign for another brand right in front of security are there! For in todays world of share share share, this backdrop is the Magnum Opus. It's bright pink, tons of angles, anyone looks fucking great in front of it, it lights up on LCD screens and you can basically just let the background do the work.
When Paul Smith conceived of this, he was likely thinking, 'how do I get the attention of customers who are in their cars most of the time...I have a 5 second drive by opportunity!' And with this, the idea of turning the store into a billboard was born, and a fucking amazing one at that. There was no anticipation that it would turn into what it is today. In fact, when you look at the lines of people posing outside, you quickly realize that 99.9% of them don't actually go inside and buy Paul Smith products. The onsite security guard does more in one day than the staff inside does in a year!
So regardless of the sales and conversions this installation provides, Sir Paul unwittingly turned a mundane retail corner on Melrose Avenue, into one of the most photographed spots in all of Los Angeles and in turn created the idea that with very artful color direction decorating a very basic cube, things can become more than just commerce, they can become a conversation that's talked about everyday of the year come rain or normally shine.
And that my friends is why he's a knight. #paulsmithmelrose