Pampering the Mind
Mont Blanc's cultural space may mark the next trend in
Far from the madding crowd of New York City's Madison Avenue,
where tourists goggle at the boutiques and brownstones of the
city's cultural elite, there's a haven for people who wish to
give their brain a treat. It's plusher than a coffeehouse, more
cerebral than your typical Border's, yet more accessible than
the city's nearby museums.
It's Mont Blanc's deacceleration studio, the roomy upstairs of
the luxury pen and accessories retailer's new boutique at 69th
and Madison, which opened in June. While Mont Blanc's smaller
boutique, just down the street at 57th and Madison, captures
the walk in and tourist business, the new boutique caters
more to New York City residents and culturally interested tourists
who may not stay in Midtown, the city's tourist center. To engage
these customers, Mont Blanc created a room with compelling modern
sculpture and multimedia installations, first edition books,
displays of antique pens and inkwells, headsets for listening
to music, cushy leather chairs and writing desks equipped with
handmade paper and you guessed it Mont Blanc pens.
For trendwatchers: it's the retail café of the new millennium.
"We've included everything a Mont Blanc aficionado stands
for," says Eric Werner, Mont Blanc's director of marketing.
"We needed a place to convey our philosophy. In this high tech
world, people long for something to hold onto, to think about
what really matters. The studio is the first of its kind, and
we're doing it in a great city."
A "cultural concierge" will be in the studio to answer
questions about artistic and literary goings on in the city.
Mont Blanc also will hold regular events poetry readings,
meetings of the Proust Society and chamber music performances
and frequently change art exhibits. "Not all the events
will be high brow," says Werner. "We're trying
to reach different audiences."
To find the space, customers must walk to the back of the
boutique and around a corner to locate an unassuming staircase.
Realizing many customers are too intimidated to investigate the
second floor of a retail store without prompting, the store hung
sculptures from the ceiling above the stairs and installed a
video screen at the first landing for intriguing videos. The
"acceleration staircase" is meant to arouse customers'
curiosity and invite them up the stairs. At the top, the entrance
to the studio is framed by a re creation of the original
doorway to Mont Blanc's first store in Hamburg, Germany, but
there's no actual door that might prevent visitors from wandering
Mont Blanc works with local hotels to promote the deacceleration
studio and continues to run a weekly ad in The New York Times
for its boutiques. It plans more public relations and events
than advertising for the studio, though, hoping to capture the
hearts of cultural critics by appealing to their heads.
by Stacey King
||Art exhibits and showcases of antique books,
pens and inkwells line the walls of Mont Blanc's deacceleration
studio. The bronze sculpture by Anne and Patrick Poirier at left
is "Anima Mundi."
|"Burn Baby Burn," an installation by
artist Tom Sachs, and a video screen draw visitors up the acceleration
staircase to the studio on the second floor.
Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.