Tomato Gets Kinky in Mila­n

Aspesi’s new Milan store is the latest product of the 15-year working relationship between the Italian fashion brand and Dirk van Dooren of Tomato

 

Far from a traditional Milanese shop aesthetic, van Dooren’s ideas saw him take influences from the Souk markets of Morocco and combine them with changeable wall graphics, nighttime digital screens and a host of graphic faces called Kinky Atoms.

“I tried to create something that wasn’t too formed or so permanent,” says van Dooren of his work for the store. “There’s a semi-permanence to it – the hand-drawn stencilling on the three walls can be rubbed off so pictures can be re-drawn over them, for example. It’s very malleable.”

Within the shop itself there are also three vast display cases that contain themed “mini-exhibitions” curated by van Dooren: one featuring toys and objects representing “the animal kingdom” that were sourced from markets and antiques fairs.

The striking Kinky Atoms faces, however, come from a desire to create a graphic theme for the whole shop: based, says van Dooren, on what he thought Alberto Aspesi’s atoms might look like. “I thought about Alberto and what made him so special,” he says. “I imagined his atoms would look like positive things: birds, monkeys – he’s a very colourful character and so we created 70 of these things.” The Atoms make up a mural on a back-lit screen and also appear on the store’s bags and in-store displays. And at night, the shop “dreams”: its “consciousness” displayed on these screens, says van Dooren. “Being in Milan it dreams of openness – there’s a slow-motion film of the sea and one of the desert too.” Now that’s a store with soul.

 

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