Damien Hirst's Pharmacy has been revised with/for Prada.

by Vésma Kontere McQuillan
November 22, 2022
Prada presented a new edition of Pharmacy by Damien Hirst, dubbed Prada Mode Dubai, on November 9 and 10, 2022, in Dubai.
Prada Mood is a natural evolution of the iconic Prada Double Club by artist Carsten Höller (London 2008/2009; Miami 2017), a traveling private club that offers members a one-of-a-kind experience with a focus on contemporary culture.
Prada Mode with Hirst was held at Dubai's newest landmark building, designed by Foster + Partners. It demonstrates how a fashion brand can serve as a facilitator for significant global cultural gatherings in various locations around the world.
By removing the focus from the garment while preserving a hidden fashion story, Prada Mode distinguishes fashion as an expression of dress, adornment, and clothing from fashion as a broader phenomenon of sociocultural expression of our times.

Hirst's Original Pharmacy

Hirst opened the Pharmacy restaurant in Notting Hill, London, in 1998, six years after launching the same-name installation at the Cohen Gallery in New York.

I previously used his projects to demonstrate the use of allegory in retail design in my article "Narrative created the design. Using Interior Design and Architecture to Tell Brand Stories ". The artist worked with direct pharmacy symbols - the primary symbol being "a tablet." Hirst's chairs resembled pills. The bar is lit from the inside and has tablet photographs on all of its surfaces. To be even more direct, Hirst used pharmacy shelves with various types of drugs stored in them. The suspension lamp Brera by Achille Castiglioni from Flos was also reminiscent of pills.

The restaurant's interior was almost entirely white and resembled that of a medical facility. The conceptual nature of the project Pharmacy, as well as its sterility, did not translate into commercial success, and the restaurant was soon closed. Laura Barton wrote in an article for The Guardian with an ironical title that was a metaphor itself: “The drugs didn’t work “ (Barton, 2003).

Great restaurant can be seen as art

"I’ve always thought great restaurants can be seen as art, and art without the evidence as we always remember great meals on great evenings with great people in great places and in this way Pharmacy is definitely a kinetic artwork, that works best filled with people and art existing and living and breathing and eating and drinking and enjoying themselves as one, ” stated Damien Hirst in 2022.

The revival of Pharmacy in Moscow

Damien Hirst transformed the historic Levenson Mansion in Moscow into his reborn Pharmacy on December 3rd and 4th, 2021. The installation was designed as a fully functional restaurant and bar using Hirst's floor-to-ceiling medicine cabinets and specially made butterfly paintings. Hirst designed furniture, architectural details like a large molecular model in the window, light boxes, and wallpaper inspired by a prescription medicine catalog.

The hidden story of Prada's Uniforms

According to the backstory of the collaborations, Miuccia Prada designed the original restaurant's staff uniforms. The Pharmacy following editions push art-centered spatial fashion collaboration to new heights. They shows how fashion spaces can be created by removing the most basic component of fashion: the garment. This is a usual Prada's prescription: "Combinations juxtaposed, to find something new." (Singer, 2020)

Photos Courtesy of Prada.


Barton L. (2003). ”The drugs didn’t work”. Guardian, September 24. Available from http://www.theguardian.com/news/2003/sep/24/food.foodanddrink [November 22, 2022]

Press Release_Prada Mode Dubai.

Singer 0.(2020)."5 Thinsg to Know About Prada Uniform-Centric SS-21 Show." Vogue, September 24. Available https://www.vogue.co.uk/news/gallery/prada-ss21-everything-you-need-to-knowfrom [November 22, 2022]

McQuillan, Vesma Kontere (2017). Design som fortelling. Merkevarehistorier fortalt med interiørdesign og arkitektur. I Næss, Hans Erik & Pettersen, Lene (red.) Metodebok for kreative fag. Universitetsforlaget. ISBN 9788215027005. s 173-182.

McQuillan, Vesma Kontere (2018). Design by Narrative. Telling Brand Stories with Interior Design and Architecture. INNER MAGAZINE. ISSN 2611-3872. (3) s 20-30.