My boss at work is opening a new store with her partners and she asked my ideas about the store, which includes the brand concept and the interior design. They have some ideas about the “Internet Celebrity Store Service”. Which brought me the thinking of this kind of “ Internet Celebrity Architectures”.
The term “Internet Celebrity Architectures” refers to the influence of a building on social media. For example, The Vessel in New York City, The Broad Museum in LA, Aga Khan Museum, and AGO can also be classified as this kind of architecture. Whether or not the designers of these buildings consciously and voluntarily build them social media-friendly. The traffic brought by social media can create an Internet celebrity effect.
The main channel through which the influencers’ buildings have been widely spread is through “tag” photos posted by tourists on the internet. There are more stores and installations created mainly for taking photos. I still remember BIG’s “Unzipped Wall” for its project on Queen Street.
Li Xiangning, a professor at the School of Architecture and Urban Planning at Tongji University, summed up two essential elements of a Internet celebrity building: First, the building should have a wide site suitable for taking photos; Second, a “hole” is often designed near the site, through which light can be played to create a light and shadow effect or to provide a special Angle for the photographer. According to Li Xiangning, such spaces allow visitors to withdraw from their daily lives and immerse themselves in the experience of architecture.
“Taking pictures is also an important way to use architecture today, and I even feel that a building’s contemporary vitality — its impact on the public space, on the people who experience the space — is less powerful than its spread online.” “If architecture is understood as both a physical existence and a replacement for regeneration on the network, then in a sense, its symbol on the network may have exceeded its physical value,”SAID LI XIANGNING.
As some architects and critics have noted, today’s engagement in public space has shifted from “going to space” to “seeing on the internet”, a trend that is spreading across the globe. Li also found that even if people are willing to experience physical space, they don’t care about the building itself.
“In many places today, if you see someone who, in addition to taking pictures, touches the material on the surface of a building, that person is an architect. For the average person, it doesn’t matter whether the building feels rough or smooth. They care more about how the pictures they take look, and they use the building through the images.”
This is also why many people are surprised to find that the experience of the site is completely different from that of the photos when they first see the photos of the building on the Internet and then go to the site. In an era of fast consumerism, people’s cognition of space, experience, and materials is gradually replaced by the planar virtual world, and even “double” may become “real body”.
Back to the beginning, when my boss mentioned “ Internet Celebrity Store Service”, I think what for a restaurant or store traditionally is a good service and the connection making with the customers. This wind of “ Internet Celebrity Architectures” may influence the way we see buildings and stores, and may bring some new visitors/customers. But we should not forget the thing we need to keep doing, making connections. A great space for taking photos should mainly be an addition.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in Life Outside of Design Studio and has been updated for accuracy and completeness.