Yayoi Kusama, one of Japan’s most famous artists, came to the U.S. in 1957 and participated in New York’s 1960’s avant-garde art scene. During her time here, Ms. Kusama created her most provocative paintings, sculptures and happenings until she returned to Japan in 1973. She is best known for her repeating pattern artwork—primarily polka dots, which have been painted on everything from gigantic pumpkin sculptures to fabric and even a horse. The Whitney is hosting a retrospective of her work with the support of Louis Vuitton.
Just down the street, Louis Vuitton is showcasing their latest collaboration with Ms. Kusama with window displays full of polka dotted tentacles, giant flowers and an eerie life-size double of Ms. Kusama to advertise the beautifully crafted purses, shoes, scarves and clothing that she co-created with Marc Jacobs. The Louis Vuitton website also gives its customers the opportunity to learn more about Ms. Kusama by providing an extensive bio, an interview with Mr. Jacobs on how the collaboration came about, a peek into the exhibits (London and New York) and a gallery of digital art created by Kusama/Louis Vuitton fans (more on that in a moment).
In addition, the Whitney, Gagosian, and the Hudson River Park Trust have sponsored an installation of Ms. Kusama’s sculpture “Guidepost to the New Space” on the lawn at Pier 45. Large red abstract shapes with white polka dots span the lawn inviting visitors to get close and personal with her work.
Should you not actually go and see any of the art or products, you can have a digital experience with the world of Ms. Kusama by downloading an iTunes app that gives you Kusama-vision. You can transform photos taken on your phone into dots or abstract waves and upload your creations to the app library as well as the Louis Vuitton website. Instantly, you are part of both brands!
Often, a brand experience takes place in one or two dimensions. We often think of it live (in-store) or online. The Yayoi Kusama and Louis Vuitton brands have done a thorough (and amazing) job of creating so many points of interaction (museum, retail, online, private space, public space, paid, free, wireless, smartphone, subway posters) that the brand experience becomes everything at once—luxury and public, informed and casual, personalizable and disembodied. It’s a brand experience of art and retail that signals the future of how to delight everybody at every level.