Sunday, 31 July 2011

Urban Outfitters, London

We really quite like the latest scheme from Urban Outfitters in the old C&A store site.  Although it is a little chaotic looking at it when one analyses static images however it does actually work really rather well on the high street and certainly grabbed us long enough to stop and record these for you.  Oddly the actual Urban Outfitters illuminated signage looks a little dated next to the painted signage on the fenestration, don't you think?  On a side note, and just a little snippet of information which you may be of interest.  Just underneath these windows, running directly right across the road to Ms. Selfridge opposite is a huge underground tunnel.  Quite why its there we're not sure, although possibly it was linked to the underground bomb shelter that used to be in the basement of Topshop and it no doubt has been covered up by each of the stores. Although we do remember, during pre-Internet and digital camera days enormous locked iron doors with a tiny spy hole in them where we could shout to the staff in the stockroom at the then C&A store to break up the long hours working in a huge retail store.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Bershka, London

We really, really want to love what Bershka are doing at the moment, although the Spanglish is so hilarious that we just cant take it seriously.  Of course, this is not a new phenomenon and so often someone somewhere in an office far away....possibly in procurement, HR or marketing has had their say and 'chucked in' their pennies worth and while attempting to read the English design element has forgotten to the check the emphasis and grammatical accuracy.  Unfortunately this reminds us of early Japanese video games such as "Lets fighting Love". "Super karate Monkey Death Car" and "Good Times with Weapons". 
A further case for localising creativity V. mass schemes developed in places that many will never visit.  Ah well.  The Graphics look great at least.  'Where is Fashion?', you need us to tell you?

Friday, 29 July 2011

Max Mara, London

We've come to expect really good quality, although very simple schemes here at Max Mara, and this is no exception.  Placed in a repetition format the bust forms carrying their new AW11 collection which may seem a little odd given the current heat wave here in London, but then a number of department stores are already selling Christmas stuff (yeah...we know..!) to tap into the pre-Ramadan market so there is always method in what seems to be madness. Apparently, although some cultures don't celebrate Christmas, they do like to decorate their homes. Anyway, as ever this luxury brand are producing some really beautiful merchandise, sensitively handled and presented within a millimetre of its life.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Liberty, London

Roll up, Roll up..........its all the fun of the fair here at Liberty.  Cosmetic Ferris wheels and Ghost trains brimming with product fill this scheme.  The interesting angle of the schemes at this store is their sensitivity to what is happening around them.  Whether these are references to current exhibitions, for example the links with the V&A and the Barbican that we've seen here over the last while or perhaps as in this case (and we're not entirely sure) but David Essex is performing 'All the fun of the fair' currently and so we are making the connections ourselves here.  Unfortunately, there are no bearded women, Siamese or tattooed mannequins, strong men, unicorns and all the other freaky stuff we all love to tut-tut at but secretly enjoy tut-tutting at.  No hairy Mary from Borneo that it transpires is actually a monkey, no fat boy from Peckham, the Lion faced lady, Lilliputians (historical references) or other side show novelties that we are so sensitive about, and rightly so.  Ultimately, of course, its not all about the show itself, but very much about the tale you tell.  Anyway, as usual, the team have added in their own angle on the narrative and naturally the execution of the schemes is the usual perfection we all expect from this brand.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Penhaligon, London

We're always intrigued by these huge bottles in the windows of Penhaligon.  Historically, of course this is the kind of scene one would have been viewed in many high street chemists' windows right up until the 1980's.  There is also quite a lot of discussion about the reason for this.  The use and purpose of what were called Dispensing Bottles were both decorative and an indication of pharmaceuticals being sold.  Traditionally these out sized vessels were known as carboys and used to prepare tinctures, and placed in the pharmacy store window as an indication of authority of the purveyor concerned, although ultimately these vessels were purely decorative.  While we don't seem to view these kinds of schemes that often, this is a wonderful nod to the past.  At Penhaligon, the brand have also used background images in a repetition format which supports the content of the in-store product range.  Great work..! 

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Selfridges, London

We adore what the guys are Selfridges produce through their windows, particularly when there is a clear message being promoted. The influence of what they produce is of course quite immeasurable, although what we do know is that if they didn't do what they do visually, sales of merchandise would drop accordingly.  With their almost Fine Art-like approach to their schemes, which entertain us, interest us, draw us in and so on, its hardly any wonder that these guys are at the top of their game.  But, could it be higher still?
Fine Art, as a discipline which is perhaps produced with the intention of stimulating thoughts and emotions, has historically been often quite difficult to comprehend and of course was often the preserve of the wealthy or at least the very well informed.  Through its various forms, media and styles, as with store windows, it communicates,  can promote some kind of social inquiry, possibly some form of propaganda but ultimately, and certainly in this context, promotes commercialism.  While the activity of association with Fine Art generally, remains almost wholly with that of the wealthy or well informed (unless you visited a gallery recently?), the understanding, or at least appreciation can be experienced by all.  After all, looking is free.  Communication of these commercial concepts, such as presented here, remains at least for us, the key element which bridges the crevasse between the wealthy (although we are not suggesting wealth brings automatic understanding) or the well informed and the rest of us.  So why does no-one do it?   These kinds of schemes here, as perhaps with performance Art or perhaps conceptual Art where the idea itself can't be bought or sold, understanding what we see is ever more important.  We can wax lyrical about what we think we see, although  perhaps what we see can only be really viewed as fluff 'n' stuff if it doesn't actually mean anything at all, right?  So few brands / stores (if any at all) actually seem to record their own schemes and publish them on their websites with some form of explanation.  Why is this?  Do they know themselves?  Does it mean anything anyway or are we're simply attempting to intellectualise something which actually isn't there?

VM & Display Awards, 2011

Image Copyright Melvyn Vincent.

With the kind permission of Retail Focus Magazine we are able to include a recent mail shot which we thought would be of interest to you.  As the deadline for the awards has been extended until 19th August 2011, why not submit your scheme from this year for the awards?  The Awards take place on 7th October, 2011.
With the 7th annual VM and Display Awards fast approaching, Retail Focus catches up with event organiser Andrew Colclough in this promotional e-mail to find out how the judging process works and what retailers can expect on the big night.

RF: How is the event shaping up for 2011?
AC: Unbelievably well. All sponsorships have been taken and the event is going from strength to strength. We look set to match last years attendance of 480, which in fact is a total sell out.

RF: How does the sponsorship work?
AC: I'm glad you ask as I would like to take this opportunity to explain the involvement that the sponsors have. In fact, it was mentioned to us only the other day that it seemed the Awards were supplier led. This could not in fact be further from the truth. A sponsor has no influence whatsoever in the outcome of who is short listed and who indeed wins. Sponsors are not on the judging panel and judges are never informed as to who is sponsoring which Award and indeed who entered the project. The involvement of sponsors enables us to put on the best possible Awards for the industry. As you know, we have kept the sponsorship price and table price the same for about the last five years and it is due to the continued support of the sponsors that we have not increased the prices. A sponsor obviously does gain by having their name in front of the industry before, during and after the event. Sponsors can be associated with winners of the Awards but this would always only be achieved on merit and merit alone. The results are formed by an independent judging panel, giving everyone an equal chance and I would like to reiterate that the sponsors have no influence on the outcome of the Award winners.

RF: How is the judging panel made up?
AC: What we try to do is get an unbiased perspective from well respected people across the industry, covering design, consultancy, retail and the media. However, if any judge is involved in any submitted project they are unable to mark these projects and, in fact, lose possible marks by being part of the judging panel. This ensures that their involvement has no influence over the final outcome. We, in fact, keep the judging panel secret from entrants so as there can be no outside influence. This year's judging panel will be published on the night of the Awards. So, as you can see we try and keep this as fair as possible. We would like to thank all past and present judges that give up their free time and expertise to the industry Awards.

RF: Last years Awards took a different format...?
AC: Yes, in fact we opened the voting to the industry to try and see if this was a viable way of judging. We, as organisers, thought it worked very well but after talking to the industry we have decided to revert back to the judging panel as it was felt that this was the preferred method. We also introduced some light hearted entertainment but in hindsight feel it detracted from the seriousness and prestige of the Awards, and so will be refraining from doing this again. But the Awards will still be the event to remember for the visual merchandising and display industry.

RF: On the evening you normally show four projects from each category. How are these decided upon?
AC: These are the highest scoring four projects out of the many many projects received for each category. Unfortunately, if we were to show all projects submitted we would need to run the event over a few days!

RF: Are the fine Award statues specially made?
AC: The Awards are miniatures of mannequins and are kindly donated by Universal Display and previously Rootstein. The very prestigious and glamorous Award is won by the retailer and is an exceptional addition to any trophy cabinet.

RF: So, how do retailers go about winning one of this years Awards?
AC: Its very very easy to enter and believe it or not it's free of charge. Something else that we think is important, enabling every size of retailer/supplier/designer the opportunity to enter. I would like to point out that suppliers can enter projects on behalf of retailers but as already stated it is the retailer that wins. In fact anyone can enter projects providing they have permission from the retailer. There are two incredibly simple processes. Firstly, you can enter by email via, which has all Award categories clearly listed. Alternatively, if you prefer, put your entries on disc and post to us at the address listed on the website. It could not be simpler. Everyone please remember you can only win if you enter so even if you have entered in previous years and not won this could be your year so come on everyone and submit your entries. The closing date for entries is the 12th August 2011 but this isn't set in stone.

RF: Have you introduced any new categories for 2011?
AC: Yes we have introduced a Christmas Interiors Category and Most Eco Friendly Scheme/Project

RF: Is it too late to book a table?
AC: We are selling out very fast so if you haven't already booked your table or tickets please contact us as soon as possible on Tel: 01406 359 882 or by email at

Monday, 25 July 2011

Desigual, London

We came across this scheme at Desigual over the weekend and naturally were drawn in to take a closer look.  What is the connection between Christian Lacroix and the Spanish brand Desigual, we hear you ask?  Well, it transpires that Monsieur C. Lacroix (apparently he can no longer design under the name Christian Lacroix......long story, but various search engines bring up some interesting information)  But, anyway, this is a hugely exciting move forward for this brand.  Finally, we have an incredible couture designer working with a high street retailer rather than an-incredible-couture-designer-working-for-a-high-street-retailer-for-EBay-kinda-scenario.  The window scheme promoting this collaboration oozes excitement and sophistication.  We love a lot of the product here anyway and to have this iconic designer on board is quite incredible, if perhaps a little Parisian.  We're definitely going in to take a closer look at the merchandise when we get a moment.  The scheme itself with its semi-drawn back curtain, show-girl stylised mannequins add a certain depth to this brand that was otherwise ever so slightly missing, but only just.  The text on the 'chalk board' reads "I was awestruck by the first girl dressed by Desigual that I saw in Paris.  As I watched her, I could recognise in her a member of my own tribe.  It was an explosion of colors and patchwork under the elegant, discreet and always monotonous French sky:  It was fantastic, truly love at first sight" - Monsieur Lacroix.  Isnt this all so incredibly exciting?  Now...........if we can get BHS (British Home Stores) to sell some Galliano we're all on the up......if of course Topshop doesn't get there first.........ah yes.......same company anyway, so who knows?

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Lalique, London

Like a breath of fresh air into this brand, the team here have finally installed some plinths to highlight individual pieces of product and dare we say it.....created little hero's with the product.  It took a few pokes to get there but these guys have cracked it.  This looks great Lalique.  Now is the opportunity to move to the next stage and experiment with this scenario.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Selfridges, London

We've been boating at the Truvia Voyage of Discovery with Bompas and Parr at Selfridges today.  Whats so interesting about that we hear you ask?  Well, the roof of Selfridges hasn't been accessed by the general public since World War II.  An enormous 65 years and we were there.  On entering the paper back covered lift near the Chanel concession on the ground floor we were elevated to the top of it all with the enviable views over London.  On leaving the lift (or elevator for our U.S. readers) we were presented with crystals (in order to exchange for cocktails) and information about the pending experience.  Small boats take one across this experience floating amongst the edible and incredibly tasting Stevia plants surrounding the pool.  Apparently Truvia sweetener is a calorie-free sweetener and from first hand experience, dipping Strawberries into it from the floating waiters, it really does taste quite incredible (and it really does...! honestly..!).  We were quite in awe of the experience and adored every moment.  These kind of experiences help maintain this store at the top of the list of places to be and experience that one can completely understand how visitors spend a whole day here.  If you weren't fortunate to receive or buy invitations/tickets to this event we've included extra images for you to enjoy and imagine.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Dunhill, London

We love what the guys at Dunhill are doing at the moment as their schemes are screaming quality at the 'other' end of London's West end shopping zone.  Here we have what appears to be the latest (or first copy?) of Vo Autumn / Winter 2011.  Unfortunately, the PR company looking after the interests of this brand didn't send us a copy so we really have no idea what this is about.  Even the website is lacking the connection between windows and on-line clarification.  Ah well, we're sure a copy will be in the snail mail shortly now that we have mentioned it.  Wont it? ( could we have two copies please?)

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Market Day finds

We've been searching for all the latest trends in product, colour, pattern, textures, materials and so on around the markets in exotic places this week.  We've seen a plethora of metal buckets, gorgeous mirrors, furniture to die for and the most unusual bits, including the hideous Elephant leg umbrella stand (below) and the most beautiful pearl finished ceramics from Sorrento, glass Lemon tree fly catchers from Spain, barnacle covered terracotta lobster pots, and a heap of unusual bits and pieces to enhance the creative commercial environment.  Vintage fur coats, chamber pots, oil lamps, animal feeders, four poster beds, jewellery....oh the list goes on.  We left with a very heavy van load of beautiful things for our clients.  If you're looking for something special (not the fur however) let us know and we'll try and find it for you.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Smythson, Anya Hindmarch, Mulberry, London

It looks like the Tree trend is well underway along Bond St. right now.  Smythson, Hindmarch and Mulberry are branching out to bring us their latest schemes in all sort of variations on the same theme.  At Smythson, these Black painted branches protruding from a two dimensional graphic looked slightly odd originally, although eventually grew on us.  However, just after capturing these windows, several handbags were placed hanging from the branches.  Hmmmmmm......well, we guess, just like cash, that's where they grow?  One completely annihilated scheme.  Anyway, just opposite, Hindmarch in their tiny window scheme have installed a similar theme, albeit in White.  Virtually next door to Smythson, Mulberry's installation is a little more complex, fun and communicates an interesting narrative.  Sadly, with so many schemes in these types of stores, the very ugly security grilles have been put in place which do nothing to enhance these schemes whatsoever.  We've tried to photograph these windows with a minimal view of these grilles, although with the recent hit-and-run-smash-and-grabs at D&G and Jimmy Choo, its hardly surprising that they are in place. However, we do wish someone would come up with something a little more sympathetic which enhances the product and environment rather than slowly and surely suffocating it while the silent sellers fight to do their jobs.  All that hard work implementing these schemes seems to be crushed faster than the guys who are trying to steal it because someone in a head office boardroom, possibly in another country, thought it would be a good idea.  You couldn't make this stuff up.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Dior, London

Dior seems to be one of those brands that is a little hit-and-miss presentations wise.  Sometimes they seem to get it absolutely right and others (across the whole brand) just don't seem to hit 'it' at all.  But, anyway, that's simply our response to what they do and what do we know anyway, right?  However, in its pure simplicity, this scheme works so incredibly beautifully.  These large plush screens form the backdrop to the mannequins wearing the latest offering from this brand and the colours here are absolutely superb.  Our images just don't do this scheme justice.  Our only gripe is that as these back panels have been moved at some point and finger prints have been left in the velvet (?) panels.  The window cleaner has probably been in and this always happens unfortunately, however the marks are quite glaring as you can see in the image below left.  If the presentation is perfect, as one would expect from a luxury brand, then no-one would even notice, however, anything slightly out of sync. with these type of brands, absolutely screams lack of care, even when it was quite unintentional.

Monday, 18 July 2011

John Smedley, London

Wow, we love this new scheme at John Smedley right now.  We have a few of these lenses in our office which naturally have amused us for hours on end (we'll leave the rest to your creative imaginations).  Of course here, the guys have been very sensible and using them far more creatively, onto which text has been placed referencing the various qualities of the product and brand.  We probably would have placed images with a much stronger print finish behind the lenses as the ones here are quite hard to view, although this may possibly be deliberate, who knows?  But anyway, although this is such a tiny space, we're seeing some regular excellent quality creative input at this brand which is always a pleasure to view.  Great one guys..!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Hugo Boss, London

Hey guys, your graphics are falling off..................

Market Trends, UK

This week is market week and scouring them for the best in new finds to enhance that commercial environment.  These places are essential for maintaining currency of information, development of new concepts, identifying and developing trends and of course a great way to recycle items from times gone by.  We often find new shapes, forms, textures, materials and so on in these places as well as new uses for old items.  Of course its not all about creating a rustic or vintage feel to spaces or places as very often an item can be used for the development of quite an unrelated concept.  Anyway we'll show you more of what we found later this week.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Salvatore Ferragamo, London

We often look at this brand........and look....and then...ultimately..... just a cursory glance.  Quite a few years ago there was an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum here in London, possibly 1987?  The retrospective of Salvatore Ferragamo was so incredibly dynamic, the product was exciting and desirable, it doesnt have a manufactured heritage.....and yet, here we have the current windows.  Now, keep in mind that this seems to be as exciting as it gets here.  As you know, we like to 'tell it like it is' and...well.....the only word that comes to our minds is.......Dull......Dull......Dull....we're falling asleep even looking at this scheme.  What has happened to this brand, hey?  Where are the dynamics?  Where is the excitement?  Why would we want to shop here?.......oh the list goes on.....we're sure you get the giste. 

Friday, 15 July 2011

Hermes, London

Thankfully, like a Phoenix from the ashes, new schemes are emerging amongst the multiple brands Sale windows.  Here at Hermes along Bond st. their new and superb quality scheme has been installed with what appears to be a kind of Asian influenced installation?  The quality of the merchandise, of course, as always remains unquestionably some of the best around and in this instance working so incredibly well in tandem with the scheme (or actually vice versa).  A paper boat appears to have sunk amongst gorgeous corals and shells and a washing line held up with bamboo in the purest White are contained in just some of the other windows here.  A great scheme and an oasis on the high street right now. 

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Ortigia, London

We have never heard of this store until we scooted around Marylebone Road and scratched a little deeper beyond London's immediate West End, and here we have Origia.  Probably an independent store, and yet strangely very strong brand-wise.  We love the painted glass above the main window, even if it is a little motif-like, but the concept is there at least.  The Palm tree logo is clearly playing to a target audience and that's OK, isn't it?  After all, whether we like it or not it is aiming at a particular market and that's cool too. Anyway, some of the product looks very interesting and if we happen to be here during opening hours we'll certainly venture inside to take a closer look.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Cox and Power, London

We have been struggling a lot this week to find some interesting schemes to share with you all and found ourselves out of our usual area and venturing up Marylebone High st. in search of a scheme or retail space that actually is not in Sale.  Through pure serendipity we came across Cox and Power and their incredible windows.  We often remark about retailers that have small items of merchandise to present and yet have huge window spaces, to really break the space down into small 'reveals' in order to maximise the impact of such tiny product.  Few independents really listen, and the luxury brands of course have it all so right.  We're guessing that Cox and Power are an independent and how right have these guys got their scheme, eh?  These wonderfully fun illuminated port holes with backgrounds in a variety of delicious colours just works so incredibly well.  The whole installation drew us in to take a closer inspection and really focus in on the product.  Someone did an excellent job with this store.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Diptyque, London

For some odd reason, we haven't published anything from this company even though we look at them quite frequently........bizarre, eh?  Anyway, we have recorded what they do in the past anyway, so we have a record of what they have been up to.  Diptyque have a great scheme in at the moment which compliments Sale schemes perfectly right now (complimentary as in opposites on the colour wheel rather than working in tandem).  With the high street absolutely saturated with cosmetics, bath stuff, exfoliating this, moisturising.....whatever you like to moisturise, and in conjunction with gorgeous smelling candles and a night in on your own or shared, who could resist stepping in here?  With the use of repetition of radiating forms in the shape of these concertinaed structures in a fabulous Lime green, the product is incredible, it smells great, feels great and lets bring on one of those pampering evenings, hey?

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