2008 November – STOREROOM


Pop-up Department Store from CITIZEN:Citizen
28th November 2008
San Francisco

This holiday season, San Francisco will be home to the world’s first pop-up department store.
STOREROOM is the brainchild of CITIZEN:Citizen’s founder Philip Wood. STOREROOM is a temporary retail space offering the best in contemporary and luxury goods at storeroom prices. The two thousand sq.ft space has been converted into a department store with a storeroom aesthetic. The walls are adorned with industrial cardboard, and each brand is tagged with its name on the wall, creating a store in a store for each participating brand. Along with local bay are favorites Jimmyjane and Chronicle Books, STOREROOM will also be peddling unique and interesting items from Esque in Portland, STAACH in NY, and Walteria Living in LA. Other brands participating include Harveys, Areaware, Hulger, and ten others whose work will be arriving over the next few weeks.

“We wanted to do something for our home town of San Francisco during these credit crunched times. With our creative skills and our contacts with the leading design brands we got to work and built
STOREROOM. We’ve taken over a retail space in the Upper Fillmore district and curated a rarely seen selection of products, like mercury glass skulls and beautiful gold vibrators, also coffee table books on Cartier and Blahnik. Can you imagine a cardboard department store with exquisite and really affordable design products? It’s a wonderful treat for the holidays, some products are sixty percent less than standard retail.”

CITIZEN:Citizen has gained a reputation in the past years for performing what it calls “rogue retail” to display and promote its own collection of work. Mixing the traditions and formalities of the department store with the energy of guerilla and pop-up stores, the STOREROOM is the world’s first pop-up department store, a new type of retail.

For further information and daily updates on new stock and events, please visit

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2008 October – Merrill Lynch

Merrill Lynch tries to close CITIZEN:Citizen

The First Republic Bank has just issued notice that they are closing CITIZEN:Citizen’s bank accounts. The closure of the accounts was later discovered to have been activated by Merrill Lynch (owners of First Republic) whose legal department states that the type of products CITIZEN:Citizen produces are unsuitable for the bank and thus unsuitable for business with Merrill Lynch.

No comment was available from First Republic nor Merrill Lynch. Their representatives were hesitant to reveal any further details about which objects of the internationally recognized art and design brand were cause to close the business’ accounts. While the work may not seem suitable for Merrill Lynch, just 10 blocks away from the main branch of First Republic in San Francisco, the work of CITIZEN:Citizen is on display at the SF MoMA as part of their permanent collection.

Within the same week that CITIZEN:Citizen’s accounts were closed, their work was acquired as part of the permanent collection of one of the world’s premier art museums—the MoMA in New York acquired CITIZEN:Citizen’s Ballistic Rose, a corsage made from ballistic nylon designed by Tobias Wong, one of the firm’s signature pieces. 

The colliding worlds of art and finance seem to be more and more bizarre. Only a few weeks ago, on the same day as famed investment institution Lehman Brothers collapsed, infamous British artist Damien Hirst sold over $200 million of his recent work at Sotheby’s. Incidents such as these question the role of banks and commerce in art and how fluid, undefined and, at times, unwarranted those crossovers are.

Philip Wood, the founder of CITIZEN:Citizen, reflected, “It’s a wonder why a move such as closing the accounts of CITIZEN:Citizen should be made. Can it be that CITIZEN:Citizen is really so provocative  as to deem such an action? I really can’t believe that our very own bank is closing our account due to the design and art objects we produce. The collection highlights and observes the boundaries between art, design and culture. In that pursuit, I never thought we’d be highlighted by the likes of Merrill Lynch as an obstacle to their commercial success. Any sort of moral high ground seems out of order after the debacle of the last few weeks.”

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2008 July—246 and Counting

CITIZEN:Citizen is part of the permanent collection at the SF MoMA

Museum showcases recent acquisitions from CITIZEN:Citizen collection
SFMOMA exhibition 246 and Counting
Curated by Henry Urbach
San Francisco CA, July 10th – January 4th

Rare gold Cokespoon banned by McDonald’s is now on view at San Francisco’s prestigious Museum of Modern Art. International design provocateurs CITIZEN:Citizen join the establishment this month as four of their products are going to be among the latest show 246 and Counting, an exhibition of acquisitions made by the Museum under the oversight of new curator Henry Urbach.

Amongst the four objects selected is, Cokespoon#2, designed by Tobias Wong and produced by CITIZEN:Citizen, which received a cease and desist from McDonald’s Corporation last year just after its selection by the Museum. The bronze cast and gold plated spoon is a replica of the 1980 plastic coffee stirrer which was originally taken from production by McDonald’s Corp after the plastic spoons started showing up as “exhibit A” in drug cases. Also included are Doorstop, created by casting concrete from the design classic Savoy vase by Alvar Aalto which is destroyed in the production. It’s an edition of 12. And finally, two other bronze-cast jewellery pieces—Cokespoon #1 and Swizzlestick.

CITIZEN:Citizen, long admired within the art, design and fashion worlds, has become a significant brand by creating a space in the market for culturally critical work that refuses to be easily categorised. Working with some of the most talented up and coming names, its production of both affordable art and high design riff on the cultural preoccupations of our times. Philip Wood, CITIZEN:Citizen’s founder and creative director, says, “ I’m grateful to be working with such creative and thoughtful people as Tobias Wong , proud to be part of the collection, and grateful for a new approach to the objects in our lives. We’re at a time where we’re looking more closely to the things in our lives and how we value them. Henry Urbach and the SFMOMA are leading the way.”

246 and Counting, a two-year timeline of pivotal objects in design that have not only shaped the world we live in but also the lens through which we experience it, is curated by Henry Urbach, formally the owner of the NY based eponymous Architecture Gallery. For the last two years, Urbach has been developing a new curatorial viewpoint for the SFMOMA’s architecture and design department. 246 and Counting is a reflection of just that.

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2008 May—Untitled

CITIZEN:Citizen Launches Book

Untitled: The Book as Object
Joe Gebbia
May 25, 2008

CITIZEN:Citizen’s curation and production of the work of avant garde artists and designers has changed the landscape of design in North America. Under license, CITIZEN: Citizen produces and distributes its collection through the leading luxury and art retailers whilst working closely with private clients and dealers.

CITIZEN:Citizen’s unique view of the merging disciplines of design, art and fashion has brought it cultural recognition across the globe. Its work is part of the permanent collection at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and has appeared within museums across America and Europe, including the MoMA, Cooper Hewitt and the Guggenheim Museums.

Chronicle Books:

Founded in 1967, Chronicle Books has developed a reputation as one of the most admired and respected publishing companies in the United States. Known for its ability to challenge conventional publishing wisdom, setting trends in both subject and format, Chronicle has built an international reputation for award-winning, distinctive publishing that is instantly recognizable for its spirit, creativity, and value.

Chronicle published Nick Bantock’s groundbreaking 1991 book Griffin & Sabine, a production-intensive illustrated novel that explored the medium of the book as art form by combining a pop-up book with conceptual narrative. More recently, Chronicle has produced distinctive publishing with a number of the most innovative designers and studios around, including IDEO, Steven Heller and Louise Flli, Modern Dog, Push Pin Studios, Steven Skov Holt and Mara Holt Skov, Pentagram, Rex Ray, and Hatch Show Print. Chronicle continues to collaborate with artists, designers, and manufacturers to create sophisticated and critically acclaimed books unlike any other trade publisher.

For more information about Chronicle Books, visit www.chroniclebooks.com

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2008 April—American Comfort Quilt

CITIZEN:Citizen launches Quilt

American Comfort Quilt
Bradley Price & Joel Yatscoff
April 8, 2008

CITIZEN:Citizen introduces the American Comfort Quilt. This handmade art piece, a limited series of ten, includes 58 logos of mass-market retailers, fast food chains and other corporations that participate in the creation of the contemporary North American identity and condition. Iconic North American brands such as these give us both comfort and identity, yet we feel ambivalent or even negative toward their hegemony over our cultural and economic landscape. It is the problematic balance between familiarity and alienation which this quilt seeks to examine.

With today’s increasingly fractured social fabric, it is now brands that give us a feeling of collective identity, heritage, and continuity, gradually taking over the role that family and cultural heritage once held. Our identities are no longer defined by our ancestors and our traditions so much as by multinational corporations who shape our personas through advertising and product placement. The traditional American quilt serves as a living family document, surrounding us both physically and emotionally with the events and the people who came before us. This quilt forces us to question the cultural legacy we are passing along to the next generation.

Joel Yatscoff states, “…this is a very topical product that questions the effects of consumerism in North America. We were very interested in playing with the dichotomy between the comfort and suspicions brands produce. Throughout North American history, quilts have had a tradition of stitching together family history so it seemed to us a natural medium to document these shifting cultural values.”

“It’s a perfect fit for our brand as it’s an object that looks to inspire new ways of seeing and at the same time is beautifully crafted,” says CITIZEN:Citizen’s creative director Philip Wood.

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2008 February—Virtually Mine

CITIZEN:Citizen launches a global virtual archive

“Virtually Mine”
CITIZEN: Citizen
February 19, 2008

For the past month, CITIZEN:Citizen has been building an online archive called Virtually Mine, which
attempts to be the largest collection of objects and their meanings for the world to share.

Virtually Mine launched at Peel Gallery in Houston when CITIZEN:Citizen decided to invert established art gallery norms and rather than curate a show themselves, they invited guests to become the curators in the exhibition titled Virtually Mine.

In opposition to current trends of glamorising design as elitist and expensive work, Virtually Mine
celebrates the everyday and the personal asking one to rethink their possessions and explore how they value the objects in their life.

For the exhibition in Houston, visitors were invited to bring their own objects or designs into the
gallery. Each item was photographed, recorded, tagged with a unique ID and added to the digital archive. Each guest was also asked to write about what the object meant to him or her. This information and the
objects digital record was then uploaded to the virtual archive.

From this initial show, CITIZEN:Citizen will produce a series of exhibitions in museums and galleries across the country and develop the Virtually Mine online archive. Ultimately within these days of mass global consumerism, Virtually Mine offers a chance to observe ours and others relationships to the
objects in our lives.

The project was conceived by CITIZEN:Citizen as part of their on-going exploration of art and design. Creative Director of CITIZEN:Citizen Philip Wood said that, “There are several concurrent cultural movements that have stimulated us to create Virtually Mine at this time. The first is that as our world becomes more virtual, we realize the objects in our lives attain new meanings and values. This is combined with our current and ongoing reassessment of consumer culture and how we measure the various environmental, economic and political implications that our consumption has on our world”.

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2007 October—ccPhone

CITIZEN:Citizen Launches Phone

Tobias Wong
October 29, 2007

CITIZEN:Citizen is constantly questioning the value of and our relationship to objects. In the vein of commenting on mass culture and mass consumerism, Tobias Wong’s latest creation, exclusively for CITIZEN:Citizen, is launching today.

The matte black phone, titled ccPhone, is limited to an edition of 50. The ccPhone is constructed from an iPhone. This phone is jet black and its matte surface gives a sense of awe. Tobias has, in the past, used appropriation to highlight the original beauty of a design classic and by adding his own observation or take, he creates an exercise in pure persuasion.

Wong rests in that liminal space of artist, designer and social commentator. Wong uses design as a medium and in the case, the medium is the iPhone. As a designer, he offers new ways of looking at an object that hundreds of designers have already worked on, usurping their ideas and improving on what has been deemed a classic.

As a social commentator, he is highlighting our constant need to consume and our obsession with differentiating ourselves with the objects in our life.

Wong plays to both our brain and our gut, the logical and the visceral. On the one hand, he makes us aware of our obsession as consumers, on the other hand he lures us back in by creating such beautiful observations, ones that we invariably want to consume.

The ccPhone comes with a curated series of information, artwork for the screen, video, a selection of music and, possibly most intriguing of all, CITIZEN:Citizen’s personal address book in v-cards, which will be updated twice a year.

In essence, the ccPhone asks us how much further can our desires be pushed, how much more can we have, how exclusive can we be and how differently can we perceive and through what lens.

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