Marc Kushner: Architecture as Branding

A well-designed building, believes Architzer co-founder and HWKN partner Marc Kushner, is an incredibly effective communications tool, uniquely equipped to bring value to a brand.

“It’s a big billboard in the marketplace,” the 2004 graduate of the Harvard Design School says.  “It speaks to users – for those who pass it, it enters into their visual life.”

He cites HWKN’s Uniqlo Cubes as a prime example.  Developed for a major Japanese retailer, they are pop-up stores that can be moved around an urban area, whose shelves become part of their walls. 

Once the cube is plopped onto its location, a section of its form slides open like a vault, inviting customers to come in, try on clothes and make their purchases.  At night, the cubes glow in the dark to make their presence known.  Their branding power is derived not just from form and glowing geometrical shape, but from the attention to detail in their material and construction.

“They’re made of aluminum,” he says.  “And how they came together is important – they weren’t screwed or bolted, but locked together like a jigsaw puzzle.” 

Kushner believes in research-based solutions to architecture and branding.  He’s not necessarily interested in a stylistic approach to design, but in diagnosis and psychoanalysis to dig into what a client’s agenda might be. 

If that sounds more like an ad agency than an architecture firm, so be it.

“We’ve learned a lot from agencies,” he says.  “We’ve worked with Deutsch, Kirshenbaum and KKLD – they hired us to work for their clients with temporary event spaces for campaigns.”

Between Architizer and his firm’s very smart designs (they’ll debut their winning entry for MoMA’s P.S. 1 in July), Kushner demonstrates a self-evident savvy of latter-day brand management.

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