Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Light Fantastic

Incorporating fluorescent tubes into window displays are all the rage in Holland this season.

Here are three of the best I saw there in the past fortnight.

Pull & Bear, Rotterdam
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de Bijenkorf, Amsterdam – this works really well with the cityscape theme
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Marc-Cain, Rotterdam
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Thursday, June 7, 2012


Showcasing small products like cosmetics, eyewear and footwear is always a challenge regardless of the size of a store. Many such retailers opt for a smaller store footprint, as there’s less to compete for a customer’s attention and rents are cheaper. But that comes with it’s own set of problems – bumping into other customers, bags knocking items off shelves and having nowhere to hide from the over-enthusiastic assistant’s greeting, when all you want to do is browse.

Premium Dutch footwear retailer, ShoeBaloo turned that practice on its head when they selected a huge 375sqm sized space back in 2006 for their Rotterdam store. To put that in perspective it’s up to four times the size of your average boutique shoe store.  A vast hall of mirrored ceiling and black flooring with mirrored topcoat reflects the walls – each lined with asymmetrical moulded alcoves wrapped in white leather. Ever-changing coloured light permeates through the translucent acrylic behind each alcove, providing a varying backdrop to highlight the footwear.

The alcoves in the front window perfectly frame each shoe. The dark space inside means there’s no interior lights distracting from the window feature. The glitter high top on a skateboard – simply one example of the clever VM. The central area is clear apart from the cash desk and a few black low height benches and display pods holding accessories. These are also lit from underneath making them appear as though floating. A few rows of discretely placed spots in the ceiling throw any additional light needed.

It’s clear that architects Meijer & van Schooten have taken inspiration from the art world when designing the store. Brands including Miu Miu, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Stella McCartney, Chloe, Prada and many more that are on offer are showcased like artefacts in a gallery. Each is valuable, coveted and given the appropriate space to be drooled over. This is how retailers should be planning stores –  a space that is true to the brand and shows the product in the best light, rather than looking like everyone else does because that’s the prescribed formula.


Monday, June 4, 2012

Batty for Betty

Anyone doubting the popularity of the British monarchy was silenced over the weekend by the sea of blue, white and red that washed over the nation as Queen Betty celebrated her Diamond Jubilee. It’s boon time for Great Britain despite the economic woes plaguing the Continent – there’s been The Wedding, The Party and soon to be The Games.

Harvey Nics transformed their windows into “a quaint British High Street of yesteryear, complete with shops and boutiques seen throughout the Queen’s illustrious reign. Take a stroll down memory lane and take in H. Nichols and Sons Greengrocer, Blooming Lovely Florist, Nic’s Plaice Fishmonger, Harvey Nickers lingerie shop and The Knightsbridge Corner Shop.”

“We wanted our Jubilee windows have a vintage 1950′s feel about them to reflect on the era of the Queen’s coronation while also referencing this season’s ladylike fashion,” says Janet Wardley, Harvey Nichols’ Head of Visual Display. “This window scheme been one of the most fun to conceptualize – it’s a striking contrast to the contemporary approach we normally take with our installations, but retains our distinctly tongue-in-cheek sense of humour!”

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Selfridges celebrated the occasion with its ‘Big British Bang’ campaign which will be extended throughout the summer. Each window depicts a typically British scene but with an imaginative twist – from seagulls flocking over Brighton Beach, to a changing of the guards by punks, even a builder’s tea party.

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The campaign carries through in store with The Big British Shop and the British-style focused Britannica exhibition. The shop features exclusive products from GB brands including Union Jack gumboots by Hunter, Barbour jackets complete with Union Jack lining and life sized corgi statues.

selfridges shop

Oliver Sweeney, purveyor of men’s shoes, went with something more permanent. Teaming up with graffiti artists, for two days they painted the exterior of the store. What makes it so unique is that the Union Jack was made up of small stencils of Oliver Sweeney shoes!


Meanwhile Ted Baker had corgis adorning the pavement and Hackett had the Queen’s Guard on notice.

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The craziness isn’t just confined to the Isles. Check out these windows for expats Ted Baker in Paris and Topshop in Melbourne.

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Thanks to WWB Online for the Selfridges images.