Projects | Barneys Carine’s World

Storefront kinetic installations

Projects | Barneys Carine’s World

Storefront kinetic installations

In celebration of Carine Roitfeld, the former editor of French Vogue, we created a series of kinetic displays for the windows of Barneys New York. The windows were unveiled on the evening of Fashion’s Night Out by Carine herself.

The Carine’s World windows at Barneys New York contain a series of kinetic installations, each of which manipulates video of Carine in a different way.

Water Window

The first installation is a machine that displays portions of a video called “Carine’s World”, shot by Mario Sorrenti. The video image is seen through a mirror and a thin tank of water. Periodically, a scoop dips down into the water and disturbs it, causing ripples to appear in the video image.

Barneys Carine's World mechanism

Making of the Water Window

This installation started as a crude sketch during a brainstorming session with the Barney’s creative team, headed by Dennis Freedman. We wanted to do something interesting with the video image, not just show it on a screen. I’ve always been fascinated by the relationship between physicality and technology, so I thought it would be interesting to use ripples in a pool of water to bend light coming from a TV.

The Barneys team was excited about this idea, so we built a quick prototype out of IKEA shelving and a few pieces of plexiglass. The idea worked surprisingly well, but there were still a lot of aesthetic and technical issues to resolve.

After going back and forth a bit with Dennis Freedman on the final design, we decided on something more rugged. I wanted something with a lot of contrast: visual contrast between different shades of steel, and also contrast between ruggedness and precision. I think contrasts like these are a big part of what makes so many precision instruments and tools so beautiful.

After another quick sketch and a CAD model, it was time to start fabrication. We did most of the fabrication in house. The tray and mirror were laser cut by a plastics fabricator, and the pulley and bob were CNC milled by Andrew Laska. This project had a tight timeline and we needed someone to machine the pulley out of stainless steel for us. I wanted this pulley to be a focal point of the piece, so it’s appearance was critical. Stainless steel is a challenging material to machine, but Andrew was able to turn it around in just a couple of days.

Barneys Carine's World making of

Next it was time to hook up the pulley to our motor control electronics and write some software to move it the way we wanted.At the same time, we were welding the frame, which had to be assembled carefully or else the rest of the stuff would not fit inside it. Finally we put everything together and let it run for a few days to make sure everything was working well.After further staging and testing at Barneys, it was installed, just in time for Fashion’s Night Out.

Walking Window

This installation is a series of TVs suspended from each other in air. Motors periodically move these TVs up and down in a jerky series of short motions. As the TVs move down they fold in upon each other on the floor. The TVs show a variety of footage of Carine: in an elevator, walking, driving.

Barneys Carine's World Walking window

Making of the Walking Window

The concept behind this window was a series of TVs that move up and down in three columns and fold in upon each other. Once again, it started as a basic sketch.

It was clear that this window was going to involve some serious structural engineering and lifting of heavy, fragile objects, so we got Bill Washabaugh from Hypersonic involved. Bill took care of the design of the mechanical aspects of the installation while we focused on the electronics and software to move the TVs with the jerky, awkward motion the client wanted to achieve.

Fabrication and assembly took several days. After that, it was time to put the mechanical, electronic and audiovisual parts together and make sure everything worked. After testing and some tweaks, it was time to put it in the window.

The Barneys team decided to put a microphone on the piece, so you can hear the sound of the motors moving the TVs up and down from outside the window.

Barneys Carine's World Walking window making of

Eye Window

This is a series of images of Carine’s eyes. The images change over time as the eyes blink, twitch and flutter.

Barneys Carine's World Eye window