JAPANESE WORKS OF ART IN XXXL FORMAT ON LESS MESS STORAGE CENTRES
On 19th May 2022, some unusual works of art appeared on Less Mess Storage’s buildings in Warsaw.
The famous Japanese artist, Photographer Hal, has a style which arouses both interest as well as controversy. Indeed, he was recently the main feature of a CNN Style article: https://edition.cnn.com/style/article/photographer-hal-flesh-love/index.html
So what is all the fuss about? Photographer Hal’s core style is to place people, including naked couples, in a bag and in intimate positions and then suck all the air out to give a vacuum-packed effect. The very creation of each work requires weeks of planning, hours of set up and then only a 10-second window in which to take photographs. The bag then has to be broken quickly to avoid suffocation of the subjects inside.
How has Less Mess Storage, a company with a network of self storage centres in Poland and the Czech Republic, come to commission Photographer Hal’s art? The idea was initiated and driven by the creative agency, Mamapool, whose partners have decades of experience all over the world, and who had previously worked with Photographer Hal on a condom marketing campaign.
Being “crushed by clutter” and “suffocated by stuff”, whether in a home or business context, is a problem and stress in life which everybody can relate to, and for which Less Mess offers an easy solution. Photogrpaher Hal’s art is a way of providing a metaphor for these emotions of stress, and in exciting and colourful images.
INTERVIEW WITH THE CREATIVE AGENCY MAMAPOOL
Where did the idea to combine self storage services with the art of Photoghapher Hal come from?
Tom Pinsent, Partner at Mamapool: We were thinking about how it feels to live in an office or home when it is full of too much stuff. We were also talking about the effects of lockdown. In both scenarios you feel trapped, almost suffocated. It is dislocating and stressful. We felt that Photographer Hal’s art perfectly captured the emotion of feeling stressed, of feeling crushed by too much stuff. Of course this is an emotional problem that Less Mess solves. I worked in Tokyo for many years so was familiar with Hal’s work.
How did you meet Hal?
Tom, Mamapool: When I was Head of Planning for Ogilvy in Japan I became familiar with Hal’s work. We worked with Hal for a condom brand campaign.
How difficult was it to coordinate cooperation with so many different countries involved?
Tom, Mamapool: We are used to working across borders with global clients. The biggest problem was the remote shoot in Japan because of the language barrier. Our Japanese is non-existent and English is not widely spoken in Japan. Co-ordinating a shoot, costs, style etc. is not easy using Googletranslate. I think it is safe to say that it contributed to the mess and the stress but Hal is fantastic to work with and his whole team and the models were extremely professional. I think the results speak for themselves.
Has it been your first time coordinating a project in Japan?
Tom, Mamapool: I lived and worked in Japan for many years and Hitachi was Mamapool’s founding client so we have a love of Japanese culture. But we had never done a remote shoot before. It simply was not possible to fly to Japan as non-residents, and even residents returning had to spend several weeks in quarantine. Similarly, we could not fly Hal to Poland because his wife was having a baby. So it was our first remote project with Japan. Hopefully we will be able to visit next time.
What was the creative process behind the Less Mess / Mamapool project?
Tom, Mamapool: Very easy. It’s always great when the CEO is 100% committed to a project, so much so that he wanted to fly to Japan and get in a bag! The whole team at Less Mess dedicated their time to overcome any last minute problems which is fantastic to work with and removes stress from the project. Less Mess have a fantastic vision and commitment to doing things differently and better.
Born and residing in Tokyo (Japan). The leitmotif of his works are love and challenges, most often in his art he presents bathtubs, vapors and vacuum bags – and more precisely, their combination. His works are known all over the world.
INTERVIEW WITH THE CEO OF LESS MESS STORAGE – GUY PINSENT
What was your first reaction to the idea of the vacuum-sealed photoshoot?
Guy, Less Mess: I loved the idea. It is original and unusual. With the team we are constantly debating and thinking about our offer and how to connect with our customers, so as to improve continually and be the best, to stand apart from the crowd. The idea of commissioning work from a famous Japanese artist and working with the brilliant talent at Mamapool to produce the marketing images and marketing campaign was thrilling.
Do you believe Polish people are ready for such a controversial and unique campaign?
Guy, Less Mess: Yes, absolutely. The idea touches on universal human emotions: being under pressure, being stressed, being suffocated – in a metaphorical way of course – by too much stuff in the office or at home.
What are your feelings and thoughts about the campaign?
Guy, Less Mess: We of course hope this will generate interest in Less Mess Storage and improve our brand awareness. At the very least, people can enjoy the images for their artistic quality and quirkiness. Working with brilliant people on this fun marketing campaign is a source of personal joy and satisfaction.
Has the thought about the campaign being too controversial for Polish standards ever crossed your mind?
Guy, Less Mess: Yes, we did research all Polish banner campaigns that had been banned over the last decade. We discovered some pretty unpleasant material which was rightly taken down. We do not believe this Less Mess campaign could cause such a negative reaction.
INTERVIEW WITH THE MODELS – ROBERT MCGUINNESS AND ASA KUBIAK
What does it feel like to be trapped in a vacuum bag?
Robert, Model: At first, the idea of being vacuum-sealed inside a plastic bag seemed exciting, but also very confronting and potentially dangerous. I was fearful for my safety and the safety of Asa. I knew Hal’s work from the Internet, and I figured it was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I didn’t want to miss, and maybe a good chance to confront my fears.
When I was inside the bag, it was strange how my fear dissipated. I felt safe, and strangely comforted by the intimacy of it. I also felt connected to Asa and Hal in a unique way, and to the team who put so much effort into making these images. An extraordinary amount of time, planning and execution goes into these photos, they are meticulously crafted.
The hardest part of the shoot was staying in position for such a long time. It pushed me physically in ways I hadn’t expected, and I experienced much discomfort, to the point that exiting the bag was very difficult because my muscles didn’t function properly from holding the same position for such an extended period.
The synchronicity of life is sometimes mysterious. This project happened at a time in my life when I was feeling like I was drowning in my possessions after moving house. Also, my brother is a hoarder and was forced to sleep in his car in the driveway of his 3-bedroom house, because his house, yard, double garage and carport were full of his belongings. I was helping him with his issue at that time.
Participating in the shoot was one of the most interesting and unique experiences of my life. I am very proud to be part of this extraordinary campaign, and offer my gratitude to the team for making it happen.
Asa, Model: Getting to work with Photographer Hal and the amazing team for Less Mess’ upcoming campaign was indeed a once in a lifetime sort of experience. I got introduced to the project by Robert McGuiness and when he shared what the gig entailed I was quite terrified and intrigued simultaneously. Prior to the shoot, I had a wonderful chat with Hal on zoom and had seen his work and I knew I would be in very good hands, yet as day 1 of the shoot approached, my excitement, nervousness and curiosity continued to rise.
For the first shot, it required me to be in the bag alone – surrounded by lots of high-heels. As I crawled in and situated myself, Hal and the team made sure I felt as comfortable as possible in this unfamiliar and not so comfortable setting. As they prepared the props around me to perfect the look, I practised mindful breathing and continued to calm myself as much as I could. As they sealed the bag and began to suck the air out with a big vacuum I started to feel myself tensing up. I had to remind myself to stay calm and keep my awareness on my breathing as they instructed me to.
Just before the bag clung to me, I had to take my last breath and hold it for 10 seconds. Those moments of the vacuum whirring and leading up to and during my first breath-hold were the most terrifying. However, once the photo was taken and Hal ripped open the bag, the pure sense of relief I felt was exhilarating. I also felt a sense of accomplishment of having faced a fear of mine, of being slightly claustrophobic.
After I had made it through that first shot, the rest of the time being vacuum-sealed in the bag became more of mindfulness practice to overcome and be able to lay there with the discomfort I felt in my body due to the long holds of not so comfortable positions – as we were being smothered with so much stuff!
All in all, it was a very exciting, unique and fun experience with a truly great team that I am deeply grateful for. Wishing all the best to Less Mess and all their new and old users in Poland!