On the 20th September 2012, Bench launched their first concept store in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. Bench grew up in Manchester 23 years ago amongst some of the most influential leaders of the Manchester scene. From the Hacienda to the Warehouse Project, in the city and friends and family, each rose to success through hard work and determination, and helped pioneer a generation. Just as Bench saved Dpercussion, Manchester’s flagship free music festival, the launch of the NQ concept store also seeks to give something back to the city and community that nurtured them.
The store will tie in with the Self Made campaign, championing the cultural innovators, the young people who are not afraid to stand up and participate. Launched on the 10th September at 2022NQ through www.benchselfmade.com, the campaign offers successful applicants an opportunity to showcase and further their skills with prize funding and exposure through the Bench brandbook, website and social media channels. Serving as a basis to house and present the exceptional winners and nominees of the competition, the Bench concept store will now play host to an exhibition demonstrating the abilities of current Self Made participants already highlighted in the AW12 Self Made brandbook.
The upstairs (ground floor) space holds the latest men’s and womenswear collections for Autumn/Winter ‘12 from Bench, with exclusive product previously unavailable in the UK also on display, including artist collaboration tees from Manchester natives DR.ME. The new store feels very different to the store it replaces, with large open spaces and raw multifunctional materials and fixtures featuring heavily. There are nods to the predecessor however with reclaimed resources from the previous shop fit contributing to the unique space. There is a very cool piece of custom artwork from local artist Moot on one of the walls which provides a fantastic focal point and it’s worth visiting the store just to see this.
On the night of the launch the basement became the new Bench Gallery hosting drinks, DJs and the Self Made exhibition private view. This is the first of a number of forthcoming exhibitions displaying the talents of the cultural innovators currently showcased in the AW12 campaign and brand book. Inside the large basement, meeting desks with outlets for electrical devices, screen projectors and a DJ booth all feature to provide a social platform and blank canvas for like-minded creative’s to meet and mingle, a far cry from the ‘jumble sale’ feel of the old basement.
Upcoming activity scheduled to take place in the Bench Gallery includes an innovative Don’t Panic exhibition. Their online poster design competitions provide privileged access to rising stars from the international art scene. The exhibition opens with a private view on 18th October. www.dontpaniconline.com.
This will be followed by All in the Wrist exhibition, curated by Moot, whose BENCHMAN artwork already features on a wall in the new store. From 2D to 3D, painting and sculpture, a varied exhibition is sure to be expected. Private view for this is on the 15th November www.mootart.com
The store and Self Made exhibition are now open and the exhibition runs until the 13th October in the basement gallery.