It was a classic downtown New York “astrology girl with a lot of consumer technology” pop-up shop. I’d just walked in with some friends. Tons of jewelry was displayed on tall puffy white cubes, all the mirrors had curved edges and the only decorations were big orange bird-of-paradise flowers. All cool stores look like this now. They know that all you have to do to get people to take photos for Instagram is cut the corners off all the surfaces inside the store. Literally. No 90 degree angles allowed. Only round tables and gently sloping walls. The people love it.
The jewelry was minimalist too. Tiny solid gold hoops and silver chains almost as thin as a strand of a hair. You know, dainty stuff that hangs delicately over the ledge of a prominent collarbone. I liked it all but it made me feel depressed. Not because I couldn’t afford it (which I couldn’t) but because I was standing in yet another womb-like room feeling the gravitational pull of products with a familiar aura, an aura of warmed up, feminized utilitarianism.
I always sweat when I go inside those stores. The worst and best one is Glossier. The best part about shopping in like, Sephora, is the relative peace and privacy of skulking through the maze-like cosmetic displays swatching shit on your face. You can’t do that in the wild open savanna of Glossier. You expect me to smear “cloud paint” on my face with a bunch of 14 year old girls with their ribs sticking out of their Brandy Melville crop tops breathing on me? I mean I’ll do it but you can’t convince me I like it just because we’re in a room that feels like a cavernous, well-lit womb.
Womb-like as an attempt to combat potential sterileness by injecting feminized warmth into mid-century mod-minimalism. I’m suspicious of it, which has something to do with how this design isn’t limited to luxury-adjacent boutiques for women, but has also become a go-to for a whole genre of restaurants (Dimes, Gertie) and offices (The Wing). It’s as if Steve Jobs hit Noguchi over the head and took over his body and then went to work remodeling the whole world to look exactly like an iPhone, and got away with it by throwing in some pink marbled accents.