Stockholm New York, The Altman Building, Chelsea, Manhattan, May 2000
After the heavy and full-scale enough preludes in Milan and Tokyo, of course we felt that the time had come for New York, this notorious ***** of a city which served as something of our personal evil empire, throughout the decade during which we worked with our magazine, and long before that, in the pre-9/11 era when the great American metropolis was still unchallenged in its position as the modern western world's equivalent of ancient Rome. In Milan and Tokyo, we had co-hosted the events with several other players, but when the time had come to take on New York, where we also produced large parts of our magazine - parts that grew in proportion for each new issue, as we escaleted on the fashion latter in terms of star quality of photographers and models, scale of productions, etcetera - we wanted to be in control ourselves, orchestrating the event in every detail without too much intervention from others and of course also take all the risque and tremendous pressure that this insane spectacle brought with it ourselves. The name of the event came naturally — the name of our magazine with the small word York added as a post-fix at the end. It was a very good name, and as usual with such, it has since been "borrowed" by others...
Well, said and done, with Claes Britton as production leader and Jens Grede, now a fashion agency leader, as his assistant, we unleashed this monster in a production period of a full year. How the hell we were able to pull it off with our minimal crew is still a mystery, but our operations at the time ran on top rev on all cylinders after having executed a great streak of events of constantly escalating format all around the world.
So we rented The Altman Building event space of some 1,600 square meter in street level and basement on 18th Street in the heart of Chelsea, Manhattan. Here we built a design exhibition curated by Thomas Sandell, and a restaurant in the street level. In the basement, on of our key sponsors, SAS, built a lounge and a bar. Another sponsor, Hasselblad, provided an 11-meter film screen in front of which we built a catwalk where we staged a fashion show with six Swedish designers shown by some fifty models, from New York and flown over from Stockholm, parading in front of six short films directed exclusively by Jonas Åkerlund and projected from behind the screen, with Swedish songs as soundtracks - quite hard rock'n'roll tunes by bands the likes of Lädernunnan, Hellacopters and Teddybears. The event lasted for a total of just fortyeight hours, after a more intimate housewarming party for some five hundred participants and friends, after construction had been underway since early morning and would go on throughout the night, executed by a team of twentyfive carpenters, electricians and technicians from the famous Kadan Productions production company, in addition to the teams of the various participants and exhibitors. From early morning to late evening, the curb outside The Altman Building was lined with U-Haul trucks unloading cargo from ships and planes from Sweden.
For PR, we were assisted by the then still recently founded Patriksson Communication PR agency in Stockholm, and by Pierre Rougier and his PR Consulting in New York, who also did the PR for the huge-scale launch of the then recently opened first H&M shop in America, the great flagship on Fifth Avenue. Together with AGoodID we also produced the campaign website stockholmnewyork.com, on which we streamed live from the event - cutting edge back in 2000, when the web was just an embroy of what it has become today.
Over these fortyeight hours, we offered our guest, among other things, a design seminar, a lunch for design media served by our friends at Sturehof (who had flown over with a team of some twenty chefs, kitchen hands and waiters), a gourmet lunch for the gastronomic media served by Sturehof in collaboration with Aquavit in New York, the above mentioned fashion show and fashion party for some nine hundred specially invited fashion guests on the first evening of the event, where the electronic dance duo KOOP performed live and then deejayed, several other seminars and events hosted by the various participants, concluded with the magificent grand finale - the great party for some fifteen hundred invitees, where the monumental Absolut bar was built and lit up like an altar at the base of the premises, with huge trays of oysters, whitefish roe and other delicassies sperad out around the great ballroom. Neither Obelix nor Pantagruel could have had anything more to ask for that night. As a climax, Titiyo performed her hit song Come Along live for the first time, followed by Stephen Simmons and deejaying by KOOP. It all ended in exctacy, with the crowd screaming for "just one more song" after the boys had finished.
Oh Lord, how we even survived this ordeal — it is indeed a mystery. We had our entire creative Stockholm family built up through our lifetimes and professional careers with us. Behind us as sponsors were all of Sweden's most powerful global brands, with few exceptions, as well as all relevant official authorities and organisations. All in all, we were approximately three-four hundred who crossed the Atlantic from Stockholm for the event. Stockholm New York was a success of a calibre which is impossible to measure. We created an event with a holistic atmosphere of such quality and magnitude that it is doubtful if we could have improved it even in the slightest. One of our concepts was that the boundries between exhibited objects and the generously flowing streams of give-aways from our sponsors were blurry. Cleptomania soared among the guests and the ambiance of the events repeatedly reached into the borderlines between euphoria and riot where we like to operate - freeflowing rock'n'roll, love, joy and glamour with no strings attached.
The fact that our event would eventually be backtalked in some political circles, in the wake of a media scandal in South Africa now forgotten, for reasons incomprehensible to us — well this was indeed sad but by no means surprising to us. Our entire journey with Stockholm New was swarmed by endless controversy, as in the case of many initiatives that break new ground and move through un-chartered land.
During the Stockholm New York event, we also launched Stockholm New No.9 — the Stockholm New York issue.
Stockholm New York, The Altman Building, Chelsea Manhattan, maj 2000
A Stockholm New Event
Produktion partners: Swecode (Asplund, Box Design, cbi och David Design), Sturehof, Diesel Music/Superstudio, RMR Interactive (now AGoodID), Patriksson Communication, PR Consulting, Totem Design, Aquavit, Stockholm Design Lab, Ytterborn&Fuentes
Sponsors: Absolut, SAS, Volvo, H&M, IKEA, Orrefors Kosta Boda, Hasselblad, Marimekko, Stockholms Auktionsverk, Grand Hotel, Berns, Eton Shirts, J.Lindeberg, Kraft Freia Marabou (Daim), The Swedish Foreign Ministry, The Swedish Tourist Council, Stockholm Information Service. The Swedish Consulate New York
Fashion: Ellegal/Illegal, Whyred, Pia Wallén, Anna Holtblad, Lovisa Burfitt, J.Lindeberg
Design curator: Thomas Sandell
Gastronomy: Restaurang Sturehof, Stockholm and Aquavit, New York
Music: Titiyo, Stephen Simmons, KOOP