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September 1 2014

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EXCLUSIVE: Olivia Kim Brings Brite Lites, and Plenty of Gifts, to Nordstrom

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Olivia Kim's product selection for Nordstrom

“Not many retailers are willing to disrupt their business,” said Nordstrom’s director of creative projects, Olivia Kim. “But Nordstrom is, and to me, that’s what makes this job so fun and exciting.”

Kim, the former VP of creative at Opening Ceremony, has now graduated to her second full-fledged pop-in installation at the behemoth department store, where she injects equal parts cuteness, quirk, and novelty. Aptly titled 4U: Brite Lites_Gift City, the pop-in, as Kim put it, is “Santa’s Workshop for the twenty-second century.”

“I wanted the design to be cold, austere, and metallic, but referential to holiday,” she said. To help bring her vision to life, Kim solicited the help of her dear friend Rafael de Cárdenas of Rafael de Cárdenas Ltd. / Architecture at Large. “He and I have this incredibly in-tune sense of environment,” she proclaimed. It’s a creative partnership that goes back to her time in New York.

As for the concept behind the staggering high-low product selection, Kim considered, “What do you get someone who has everything?” She wanted to offer those hard-to-find discoveries—and she’s succeeded. The democratically priced range of gifts includes Keith Haring skis by Bomber Ski, charity RxArt’s collaborative gifts designed by notable artists like Ryan McGinley, Vanessa Arizaga jewelry, tomes from Abrams Books, Illesteva eyewear, black-out Bamford Rolexes, Chinti and Parker knits, and much more.

Brite Lites_Gift City is the next step in an overarching plan for Nordstrom, where Kim has worked since early 2013. She aims to educate, engage, and inspire Nordstrom’s large customer base by introducing plenty of buzz-worthy merchandise. “I want to be able to create something sexy, and I want people to get excited about shopping again,” she explained.

But are customers responding in kind? “Yes,” Kim confirmed with confidence. “It’s exciting for us as a brand to be able to say we’ve got a customer who is interested in niche products and young designers. I’m here to take risks. I’m here to push something new and adventurous in front of the company, and in front of our customers.”

4U: Brite Lites_Gift City will be open at twelve Nordstrom locations nationwide beginning November 15. Merchandise will also be available online at www.nordstrom.com.

Photo: Courtesy of Nordstrom