Located between the Royal Palace and the Parliament in Karl Johans gate 39. «Oslo is segregated. It is a question if you are from the east or west side and our shop is in the middle»
YME Universe in Oslo
YME Universe, a concept store in Scandinavia, opened in September 2014. Stocked with fashion, art and culture sourced from around the world, the store has then become an incentive for its customers. Founder and creative director, Nicolai Schaanning Larsen, opted to build a store based around Norse mythology in 2013 after viewing the shop space. YME is located inside a building from 1844 described as Paris in miniature. The concept of YME has changed over the years. When the shop opened its doors in 2014, the store and its contents were high-end.
Today, Thatiana Campelo and Kenneth Hjertum, her husband are the owners of YME Universe together with an investment group. «Our idea was to bring brands that were state-of-the-art in their approach to Oslo. Norwegians are famous for their clothing, its citizens appeared to be in uniform as they dressed to look like one another». Being one of the countries in the world famous for its riches, Larsen therefore decided to become a voice and bring brands from around the world to give the Norwegian population a sense of identity. Becoming Norway’s number one sneaker destination, YME Universe now stock Ader Error, Boyy, New Balance, Diemme, Reebok and Hi-Tec, to name a few.
YME Universe’s brands’ selection and location
YME Universe has broken the distinction between high-end fashion and streetwear. The store carries designer brands like Saint Laurent, Off-White, Stone Island, Moncler, Nike and Adidas. They have allowed for a percentage of people to receive upmarket brands from their high-end and street destination approach to retail. The clothing store has taken muse from Colette in Paris because of its streetwear and high fashion influence. The store draws on notions of the layout to Dover Street Market in London. Corso Como in Milan stimulated the ability of mixing brands to include sectors of the industry under one roof.
It is located between the Royal Palace and the Parliament in Karl Johans gate 39. «Oslo is segregated. It is a question if you are from the east or west side. Our shop is in the middle. It was of significance to have a shop that would encourage people to visit Oslo. Our consumer is an individual who has an eye for fashion. Our customers vary from ages thirteen to forty-five».
Further, the store creates narratives throughout each floor of the store. Larsen and Campelo, in fact, chose to include Scandinavian culture within their store to build a Norwegian identity. «Since we opened seven years ago, Norse mythology has adapted itself into modern-culture. There are now documentary series on Netflix based on mythology evoking curiosity versus assumptions of Norway being associated with Vikings». Broadening people’s awareness of Scandinavian culture, YME Universe has become a destination for people to learn about history while visiting.
Lampoon review: Design at YME Universe
Snohetta is the Norwegian interior design team behind the creation of Norse mythology, found within the YME Universe. The design team is famous for their ability of placing experiences at the center of their design process. Having history in landscape and architecture, Snohetta designed libraries and public buildings before opting to design a shop space. «We knew we wanted to go forward with a Norwegian architect. Since Snohetta is the top-architect in Norway, we found no other contender».
The shop features a twenty-five-meter pinewood frieze representing the convergence of the twelve rivers at Ginnungagap. The primordial-reference found outside the store acts as a merging point to the shopping center. «Our shop is located inside a shopping mall, but we have our entrance outside, by the street level and needed something to merge the two shopping facilities together». Designed as a multifunctional area, customers come here to visit and exchange in culture, ideas and experiences throughout the store’s various sections on several levels.
Floors at YME Universe and the relationship with the art world
The first section of YME Universe is the luxury-streetwear and accessories. This floor represents Niflheim, a primordial ice with backlit-floating shelves and concrete-flooring. The second level is a womenswear department, portraying a darker-atmosphere, exposed with wooden struts and brickwork, which is a representation of the earth element in mythology. The third floor, being revamped into a warehouse, was the menswear department, evoking the raw power of fire through volcanic-ash hues of grey and atmospheric lighting. «The third floor is now a twelve-thousand-square-meter space where we have a creative hub which consists of our internet team, filmmakers, photographers as well as our storage space. It was the élite of the three, having twenty-six-meter-high windows and light coming in from directions. It didn’t have traffic, which is why we decided to create a space for our team to work from», states Campelo.
Subtracting the café and place of leisure, YME Universe continues to curate a selection of art in its store. YME Universe is, in fact, a supporter of existing and non-established artists and hosts events and art exhibitions with Norwegian artists like Lasse Fløde, Lars Morell, Nicolay Aamodt, Dag Knudsen, Maria Pasenau, Christian Houge and Marianne Røthe Arnesen. In April 2019, YME Universe collaborated with artist duo Broslo and produced an art-exhibition called Internet Sucks. The art exhibition addressed one of today’s social conflicts of a digital society. It portrayed aspects of the online sector and challenged the norm in which the internet has taken over our lives.
Exhibitions and partnerships with artists
The exhibition led to the first capsule collection launched by YME Universe and a collaborative emerging-artist. «This year we are producing a project called ‘YME Fraction’. We are collaborating with nine artists, who are friends of ours and have been working with YME Universe since its opening». A collaboration with Constance Tenvik is the introductory collaboration for the capsule. She is a Norwegian artist based in Berlin. Her work encompasses installations and motion narratives emerging from literature and history. Her collection is available online as well as in store from January 21st at eleven CET.
Campelo acclaims the relationship the brand has with its collaborators. «We are here because we believe we can lift each other. That is one of the focuses of our project this year. All collaborators receive fifty percent of the profits. We do not want to take advantage of them, we want to give them a platform to display their project and take ownership of their talent and ability instead».
Covid-19 pandemic impact on YME Universe
Further, YME Universe has a prescience on social media, from its existence on online platforms. «Our goal is to be motivating without forcing it. It is possible to overdo it online, which is why we attempt to give our followers an overview of our products and projects». Existing as an in-store and online shop, the concept store is able to reach a number of customers through its online website. The shop acts as the showroom and identity builder, while the website is where customers purchase their products. The team features thirty-five individuals. There are fifteen employees running the internet, logistics, photography, videography and social media sites. The others work in financial and manufacturing departments. Campelo reflects on the industry in the midst of a global pandemic.
«We have closed our store twice due to the lockdown restrictions and lost the physical-contact we have with our consumers. We saw opportunity and were able to focus on our product. Then, we have started launching ‘YME collections’. We start our production in autumn-winter. Our customer has a time-based approach to fashion, we launch in drops versus releasing a collection at once. Our ‘YME Fraction’ project is an extension to this and our means of living. With the uncertainty due to the Covid-19, it does not make sense to go out and buy a number of clothes, which is why we are looking forward to our collaborations and projects for the future».
Karl Johans gate 39, Oslo, Norway
YME Universe is a a concept store in Oslo, Scandinavia. Stocked with fashion, art and culture sourced from around the world, the store has then become an incentive for its customers.