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 www.vmanddisplay.com, 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 enquiries@rvmww.com
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