What if your household appliances came to life? Max Siedentopf imagines for department store Parco

For the Japanese department store, the creative has conjured a world in which your hi-fi could also be your friend.

17 January 2024

Since we last caught up with Max Siedentopf, a lot has changed. He’s moved countries twice, won an Emmy for dunking a child in slime, started making hyperreal sculptures, and his sausage dog turned two. Though one thing that hasn’t changed is the conceptual artist’s continued exploration of the “absurdity of existence”, a theme that rears its head in his wonderfully weird spring campaign for the Japanese department store, Parco.

When the team at Parco reached out to Max, he instantly knew the project was for him. He was already a big fan of their past campaigns, many of which were unconventional for a department store. “I especially loved the ones from the 80s, masterfully and surreally crafted by Kazumi Kurigami and I was very happy to add to this incredible visual world,” he says. This year, the department store wanted to delve into the ever-advancing nature of technology in a “tongue-in-cheek way” says Max, and its central theme ‘Believe it or not’ draws on the blurring of boundaries between fact and fiction, as caused by developments like AI, robotics, and virtual realities.

Max Siedentopf: Parco (Copyright © Max Siedentopf, 2024)

Summarising the core concept, Max says that it “hinges on the power of your imagination”. Throughout, a series of well-dressed people are either given attributes to turn them into an appliance – an on-off switch, a fan and lampshade placed upon one’s head, vacuum cleaner tubes for arms – while some of the subjects seem to ‘become’ the appliance. One figure is simply a head popping out of a hi-fi system, while an armchair is both the chair, and the person watching TV. Mind-boggling. In the short promo video, each anthropomorphised appliance is shown going about their respective roles – seemingly content with their dual existence. “The devices in our home become smarter every day,” says Max. “Here the idea was to imagine a near future where our machines take on a life of their own.”

Coming up with ideas for the concept was pretty easy; Max simply walked around his house and imagined what his various household appliances would look like if they came to life. Execution, however, was less so. All four of the seasons were shot in two days in a deserted castle in the Portuguese countryside. “This involved shooting dozens of surreal and complicated scenes on a ridiculous time frame mixed in with carrying heavy equipment up unimaginable amounts of stairs in an old castle,” he says.

Max also had to adapt his style to synthesise the clash of styles on display; styling on the project included a wide mix of local and international fashion designers, tasked with providing one of their brightest looks. The combination of the old castle with the modern styling creates a “blend between the old and new”, another subtle nod to the campaigns core theme. A true team effort with a classic Siedentopf-stamp, Parco’s new campaign will have you keeping a close eye on your hoover.

GalleryMax Siedentopf: Parco (Copyright © Max Siedentopf, 2024)

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Max Siedentopf: Parco (Copyright © Max Siedentopf, 2024)

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About the Author

Olivia Hingley

Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English Literature and History, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.

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