While perusing the wealth of creativity around London recently I came across this incredible installation by Max Jacquard. I'm always on the look out for new concepts and either how these can be developed, change direction, how they can be applied or perhaps where new concepts can begin. This installation struck me immediately as a possible new path to display fashion merchandise, although on reflection, and now looking at my images it does look rather corpse-like and of course death in Visual Merchandising has always been taboo. This is not to say of course that no-one has ever done it or that we shouldn't do it, as there are examples out there of windows representing death but its hardly a cheery strategy right now to employ such schemes. Don't you think?
Max Jaquard's Brick Man 'attempts to describe the sense of isolation, self protection and perhaps a certain brittle vulnerability felt by the artistic ego'. 'The body form represents a kind of protective shell'. 'That it is made of glass is an irony that emphasises the futility of the exercise'.
Yep, cheers Max, I hear you say.
While of course we can be flippant and dismissive, on a serious note, understanding this kind of work and the ways in which we understand it (or not) are really very crucial and indicate how perhaps (at least I feel) we need to move the VM industry on to a higher level of understanding and communication. Just about every Design discipline has its own theoretical underpinning, while Visual Merchandising still lags behind as the poor relative that we never like to mention to our granny-kind-of-scenario. So, lets start looking to these incredible artists and designers to help us get up to the level that we should be working at rather than simply transplanting their work as we so often see. Or at least as well as, after all they equally need our support. I don't underestimate that it will take quite a few generations to get it there (wherever there is) but we know VM is an important part of the overall commercial process and yet it is never given the importance it should have, particularly when a recession hits. Only then will we receive the credibility (or at least a perceived version of it for now) that this industry deserves. Higher level of thinking + Higher level of working = Longevity, right? So, OK this installation is corpse-like. The current level of thinking appears to be how this could be placed in a commercial concept as is, however, maybe lets start to think how perhaps the techniques used here can be adopted, how the processes can be used, how this concept has been informed and developed, what is being communicated or not so that we are developing a much deeper approach to our work rather than the surface approach which seems to drag and imprison this part of the Design industry. In the meantime, I'm off to see incredible glassware at the V and A to feel cleansed.