Sirius Smart SoundsSirius Smart Sounds, 1997
Maurice Mentjens designed four Smart shops for Sirius. The object was to design shop interiors with a unique character, that would appeal to the target group. Mentjens based each of the new interiors on the ‘Genius Loci’ and on the specific features of the products. In addition, he translated the most important elements of the House culture into these interiors.
The shop in the Rechtstraat in Maastricht, with its copper walls and ceilings, is styled as an alchemic laboratory or machine. This as a reference to the Genius Loci of Maastricht as an old industrial town and to the base materials for the Smart products that are extracted from herbs and plants using laboratory techniques. The counter and the shelves with bell-glasses, which cover the products on display, are pervaded with the ambience of an old chemist’s shop.
In the cathedral city Roermond, abundant with churches an chapels, the interior looks like a Smart chapel. After all, mind-expanding drugs have a spiritual function for many young people as they did for the hippies in the 60s. In addition, various scientific studies show accounts of mystical experiences to have the exact same characteristics as experiences under the influence of hallucinatory drugs.
Ultamarine blue walls form the sacral setting for a composition with a metal altar on a black pigmented floor, above which two, large, floating aureoles provide light.
Eindhoven is a completely new city that developed around Philips’ light bulb factory and was the technological centre of the Netherlands for some time. The interior of Smart Planet is austere and modernistic. The walls and the ceiling are covered with a special, holographic foil that refracts the reflected light into the entire colour spectrum, so that countless coloured areas are created. The walls change colour as one walks through the room (as the way in which one perceives the light’s angle of incidence constantly changes), as in virtual space or hallucination. The lighting is a humorous reference to the origin of the city: the Philips light bulb fitted on a carbon pipe. The counter is styled as a monolith of black granite and the shelves are constructed as towers of steel and glass.
The bass drum in house music formed the starting point for Sirius Smart Sounds. In the shop, which mainly sells vinyl for DJ’s, the bass tones come from pipes in the floor, similair to a primeval rhytm or primeval drone, the heartbeat of the earth, always connected to one another. This had disappeared from western music for a long time, but is now once again returning with the house music. It is actually a modern version of the Basso Continuo in classical, but particularly Medieval, music. For centuries, it had a supporting, obsessive meaning as the ‘murmur of an era’. Much of the house music, particularly from the initial period, has the same gothic medieval atmosphere with a dark, imploring, deeply echoing bass and magical sounds. The public goes into a trance because of these bass rhythms as it dances during nighttime parties. These are almost-modern, ritual dances that, in combination with ecstasy, create a type of ‘telepathic community’. Mentjens has translated these elements into the interior. Partly due to the location of the shop in the old centre of the city, close to the Sint Servaas basilica, the interior is made up of large blocks, like a castle or cathedral, with a type of catacombs in the rear, only made of metal as a true Techno temple.
The metal blocks that appear to whiz past your ears on the walls and ceiling are also a graphic illusion of the rhythm of the bass. The ‘dancing’ yellow blocks of the counter appear to be displaced by a bass with the intensity of an earthquake. And above these, two aluminium buttresses or rafters that house the lighting (coloured fluorescent lighting and regular light bulbs). At night, after the shop is closed, one can have the interior change colour like a chameleon, as the aluminium perfectly adapts its colouring to that of the light. To conclude, the newest releases (records and CD’s) are hung on connectors that have been mounted on the wall behind the counter.