If one glances around town right now there’s a good indication that Summer is on its way. From Tiffany to Topshop and across to Mulberry and Warehouse, floral ‘stuff’ in all of their permutations are almost covering their window spaces. This scheme here of course is particularly effective with just about everything repeated from the product itself. This is also a brave move by this mid range retailer and a good indication of the confidence they they have in their product but also so refreshing to finally see some differentiation from their competitors, don’t you think?.
Fat Face, the lifestyle clothing brand that produces clothing for men, women & kids, has recently opened a store on the impressive new retail balcony at London Waterloo, the railway terminus and London Underground complex. As the central hub for daily commuters and tourists, Waterloo is a pivotal location for the brand, so the need to create a visually impactful store that captures the very essence of the brand was paramount. To achieve this Fat Face enlisted the help of Andy Thornton and their Urban Vintage collection, for visual merchandising inspiration and retail display equipment.
Using innovative clothing displays designed by Fat Face Visual Merchandising Team, Andy Thornton helped to develop the bespoke fixtures and bring the designs to life. Heavy industrial steel fittings, with reclaimed timber shelving, have been blended perfectly with the rustic natural timber columns, beams, boarding and floorboards that provide the fabric of the building.
Simple yet functional T-Stands have been used throughout, as well as Andy Thornton’s popular and extremely versatile industrial shelving units. These can be adjusted to a number of positions, even folded to make a table, so that they can be used for clothes, footwear and accessories. A three-tier trolley in an eye-catching antique turquoise patina, provides the perfect display for hats, scarves and bags.
1930s-style French café side chairs finished in antique cream have been dotted around the store, for customers to sit on, whilst others have been cleverly utilized for displaying outfits on seated mannequins.
As well as using standard products from the range, Fat Face also commissioned Andy Thornton to develop and manufacture an exclusive suite of versatile single and split-level display tables and A-frames. These make use of rough-sawn reclaimed pine legs with timber shelves made from old floorboards. The steel brackets and shelf frames have a distressed finish with the cream top coat wiped to reveal a brown base coat.
Andy Thornton also supplied some of their industrial factory-style lighting, simple dome-shaped steel pendants in a pewter finish, above the till points.
With over 200 stores across the UK and Ireland, Fat Face plans to continue using the Urban Vintage furniture and lighting from Andy Thornton for future new store openings and refurbishments around the country.
Click the link below to read teh full article and see lots more photos.
Live-Eclectic, Artilleriet creates atmospheres to be captivated in. They provide a dynamic and diverse collection of home furnishings, furniture, and accessories. The range consists of an exclusive blend of classic vintage and contemporary products. Some of the brands presented at Artilleriet: Comme des Garçons, Hay, Aesop, Astier de Villatte, John Derian NY, No Early Birds, Maison Martin Margiela, Society Limonta, Gubi, Tom Dixon, Lampe Gras, Alexander Wang, Mad et Len, Fermob, Gervasoni.
Mon – Fri: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sat: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Sun: 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Oi Polloi is a menswear fashion store in Manchester which opened way back in 2002.
Recently moving into a new much bigger space which has given them the chance to expand their range and let their creative juices flow on the interior design of the store.
I love their store design, graphic design, their quirky advertising and the website.
Take a look and if you like what you see have a look at their website or visit their store.
Visit them at
63 Thomas Street
Here is some information about a great website which is a market place for graphic designers, artists, photographers etc
The Cargo Culture
For the last few years Cargo’s main goal has been to create accessible tools and a networked context to enhance the exposure of talented individuals on the Internet.
To achieve this, we offer our users free-standing websites; a wide variety of customizable templates; simple but sophisticated tools to control the way their content is displayed, and a unique user interface built entirely around the work shared by our members who are connected through the Cargo network.
Today, thanks to the consistent quality of the work presented here, we like to think of Cargo as a creative community participating in a constantly evolving visual culture, defined by the exceptional content that finds its way here.
From the beginning, Cargo has attracted some of the most talented individuals now posting their work online, as can be seen in this constantly updated exhibition of the images we love. All work featured here has been found across the network by the Cargo team. Visit the GalleryBy Invite Only
To maintain the highest possible degree of quality, Cargo memberships are restricted by an Invite Only policy that is mediated by account holders, each of whom can invite 5 new members. (Note: we occasionally award memberships to unaffiliated talents who share a sample of their work.)
Getting out of a cab last week in Uxbridge the first thing to greet Lynda and I was a sign saying “great coffee served here” quite a statement.
Looking up we saw a new coffee house called Harris and Hoole, the name sounded very poetic [the names originates from a diary exert by Samuel Pepys], the glass fronted exterior was covered in doodles telling me lots of info about the company and their ambitions.
It dosnt take more than a few doodles and a sniff of an independent to draw us in; and we weren’t disappointed the interior decor looked really great. The design is following the very popular trend of recycling, renewing and reinventing.
There were all the ingredients of an independent store a community notice board, great music playing, people playing board games, live events advertised, hand written signage, quirky toilets and very friendly, knowledgable staff.
But there was something a little bit too ordered about the place, it looked and felt like an independent but in a “Disney” sense, i couldn’t quite put my finger then my business partner googled the company and found out that they were independent but financially backed by Tesco a big sigh followed this news.
But after looking at their website reading about the owners the Tolleys and reading quite a few press articles a few of which were giving them a hard time for supposedly deceiving their customers by not mentioning Tesco [it does clearly and proudly mention that they are backed by Tesco on their website] I thought does it really matter that they are backed by one of the biggest companies in the UK? Arnt a lot of companies looking for investors? And the banks are forthcoming with their money these days; and didn’t Tesco start out as an independent.
After drinking one of the best lattes i have had in a while i came to the conclusion that it dosnt matter, the most important thing is that its a great new business giving the public a choice, the town a lovely looking shop and lots of people job opportunities.
But don’t let my rantings sway you, pop along to one of their branches, look at their website and and decide for your self.
PS, it did feel a bit ordered but hopefully will get a little bit rough around the edges once the hoards stark flocking to it, which I’m sure they will.
Click here to read an interview with Nick Tolley, Chief executive of Harris and Hoole.
Click here to visit the Harris and Hoole website.
Here are a few inspirational snaps i took at the Top Drawer home wares show last week in Earls court London.
Love this eye chart graphic
Great use of simple trestle tables and scaffolding tubing
Hay bail displays
Recycled pallets look great painted
These coloured masking tapes are quickly becoming a trend
and can be used visually in so many ways.
Love the large scale perimeter graphics
taken from the print son the aprons, just shows you can take
inspiration from anything for features walls.
Love this simple but powerful heart display,
would look great as a window.
Upcycling is here to stay with people getting more imaginative every day.
Repetition always looks good.
This is a great eaxample of how to use product to create a superb visual feature.
This wood block wallpaper looks so real and love the creation of the
Ella Doran brand name using nails and sting so clever.
I have always loved these funfair style lights.
Here given a contemporary twist in white.
Pallets again this time made new and stacked to create
a great display fixture and laid flat as flooring.
10 Commandments of Visual Merchandising 2013
Posted: 31 Dec 2012 04:00 PM PST
Please note that an edited version of this article first appeared in December’s issue of Retail Focus Magazine and has been reproduced in its original version with kind permission of the magazine. Please check out their website http://www.retail-focus.co.uk/
Do men and the visual merchandising industry suffer mid-life crises? Well, it would seem so and from my own cursory research and depending on who or what you believe of course, then I certainly have apparently already been through it or it is rushing towards me like a stranger experiencing a case of mistaken identity. When did that happen? The years seem to pass me by quicker and quicker and what once appeared to be just a fleeting period of youth now seems an even further distant memory fading quickly away. Although, surely something better will replace it? Wont it? On the one hand I can’t help thinking, with some sort of offensive satisfaction or a kind of two fingers up to the world that, ‘well I’ve made it this far’ which appears to be some kind of achievement at least? There is also that feeling that there is some great contentment in the gaining of experience and knowledge which is something I have learned to relish. In the meantime, according to the various mid-life crisis descriptors apparently I will be taking up a new musical instrument (No. 13), dying my hair (No. 20) (too late for that one then) desiring to buy new clothes obsessively (No.19) (looks like I’ve been having a mid-life crisis for the last 40 odd years in that case) a desire to become a healer (yeah right), the list goes on, in fact 35 of descriptors in total just to pigeon hole everything you were thinking anyway. If anything my biggest disappointment as I looked forward into the future through once youthful eyes must be the broken promise that technology and in particular computers would make my life easier and all of those incredible holidays, all those new experiences that I had planned over many years while I gladly let technology take over yet again seem to be shelved as the realisation that the same technology which promised me so much leisure time has in fact cheated on me and ensured that I work twice as fast and for twice as long each day. Mid-life crisis descriptor (No. 28) desiring a simple life. Damn you technology.
Another year in the world of Visual Merchandising has come and gone. The enormous celebrations of 2012 are notched up in the history books, the window schemes came and went in their usual ephemeral way and off we go full speed into 2013 complete with mid-life crisis apparently looming. The wonderful thing about these big events is that they are a time where we are able to stop and reflect on where we are as a country, where we are as an industry and input so much more energy into our Visual Merchandising. This period of reflection of course is only very useful if we are able to identify not just what currently exists and what we did well but what we are actually going to do to build on our achievements or change what we did badly previously. The 10 Commandments of 2013 will hopefully build on what we did well through my own period of reflection (and potential midlife crisis) and identify where we still need to build and make changes as an industry. Mid-Life Crisis (No. 21) A desire to surround oneself with different things. Oh there I go again.
1. Thou shalt encourage localised creativity
Prior to the financial crisis of the early 1990’s we saw an enormous amount of creativity on the high street through retail store windows. It was always a pleasure to go shopping in different cities where new stores could be serendipitously discovered adding to the excitement of the journey. With the launch of the notion of branding as we now know it and the homogenisation of the high street around the globe, gradually the visual blandness of the high street became ever more apparent with much of the Retail industry afraid to be anywhere near risqué for fear of alienating an ever minutely sliced demographic . What we are seeing however is the gradual, although albeit only just dipping its toe in the creative pool is the return to localised creativity, mostly due to brands such as Anthropologie. Why is this, I hear you ask? Well, of course sadly so many companies never really did understand the importance of Visual Merchandising and so the teams that were in place were the first to be culled in any crisis. With the gradual realisation of the integral importance of these visual teams and the loss of techniques passed down through generations, but so much was lost. Nearly 20 years on we are still seeing the effects of this short sightedness by so many brands. As we build on our teams of Visual Merchandisers and support their development through the ranks, hopefully we will claw our way back to beyond where we were two decades ago, although much more informed and much more inclined to think twice before letting our teams go. As we all know, differentiation is one of the keys to the retail offer and enticing the customer into the store, entertaining them, keeping them there and making them spend more money is our job. (Mid-life Crisis Descriptor (No. 14); Sudden interest in creativity
2. Thou shalt put the fun back into schemes
What happened to fun? There we were squeezing out every last penny from the customer, blandly offering anything they wished for, as cheaply as we could and as quickly as they wanted it (and the quicker the better) and along the way forgot that visual fun is not just the domain of the department stores. I daily peruse the stores of London’s West end and with the exception of a few of the multiple brands teetering on the edge of creative schemes; it’s just plain old dull. While of course Visual Merchandising doesn’t have to be confrontational, offensive or indeed need to be particularly thought provoking (and its best not to venture into taboo areas unless one is willing and preferably able to defend it), it can however be thoughtfully clever. Liberty and Selfridges here in London are always so sharply brilliant for example together with a few brands such as Desigual, Hackett and occasionally some Zara stores too, although the Visual Merchandising industry has generally lost its sense of fun, don’t you think?. It seems that the days of installations such as those reported in New York in the 1960’s with scenes produced of aeroplane crashes with stewardesses running up and down the gangway screaming whatever was being promoted have long gone. What about the events that were once promoted through newspaper articles with large banners screaming ‘Come and see the Lions’ at a named store? These events generated massive excitement and probably some disappointment when customers realised that the ‘Lions’ were in fact a brand of fireplace at the time. Are we sanitising everything for the lowest common denominator and afraid that disappointment is a terrible thing that we need to cushion our customers from? Isn’t this something that Luxury brands always do so well? Mid-Life Crisis Descriptor (No.6) It feels good to be hurt sometimes.
3. Thou shalt communicate to our audience
So often I see Visual Merchandising that I simply don’t understand. I try and unravel the thinking behind such schemes on a regular basis although so often it can be meaningless and apparently unrelated to anything else. Is that a bad thing? Well, part of our roles as Visual Merchandisers is to communicate effectively to the customer, isn’t it? As we also know, don’t we, that Visual Merchandising can be seen absolutely everywhere, from ancient sculpture to the daily newspaper or a magazine. The same principles can be applied and if done well, it will communicate effectively; job done. Unfortunately these solutions appear to escape the majority of retailers and, well, an image (in this instance in the form of a graphic) says a thousand words, doesn’t it? But which words? And why can’t we think of saying it in a different way? Mid-Life crisis (No. 32) Fixated on finding solutions to problems. Is there no stopping me?
4. Thou shalt maintain retail standards
Oh how many times do we need to view dusty floors, dusty merchandise, lighting not working or if it is working its lighting nothing in particular? Strands of invisible threads hanging like the ghost of an old scheme, security tags showing, labels everywhere, damaged graphics and unprepared merchandise fill the high street. I always try and think of a retail space as if it were my own home. Would I invite someone around if it were unclean or untidy, of course not? It still amazes me that the basics of visual merchandising are not always in place. Why is this? Because retailers are not investing in good quality, experienced, reliable teams who are paid a decent salary to do so and then developing these teams’ skills in order to maintain a higher level of presentation. It’s all looking a little slack right now. Mid-life crisis descriptor (No. 1); Looking into the mirror and realising its all falling apart.
5. Thou shalt not use live animals in windows
I’m must admit that I’m not an over enthusiastic animal lover and like furry products from something that has been literally skinned alive in an Asian province somewhere even less. While working for a company in China mid 2012 I was quite amazed to come across the circuses which not only had the obligatory one trick ponies and dogs in garishly coloured tutu’s but incredibly little hippos being ridden by monkeys wearing tiny pill box hats (the Monkeys not the hippos). Well, I had seen chained Leopards at Gorky Park in Moscow and the dancing bears on my travels through India, all horribly flea bitten, unkempt, gone mad and laid on for the tourist’s entertainment; none of it was amusing or entertaining in the slightest. I could have happily coped with a few jugglers, Chi Chi the Serpent Amphibian Man and a few bearded females; in some parts of London it appears the norm anyway? That said, I suppose the attraction of Chinese Circuses is the same as my attraction to Visual Merchandising. I just hope that something dangerous or even just a little Rock and Roll may actually happen. But the Lions riding pillion on motorbikes around the wall of death and the skipping Elephants in (forgive the pun) jumbo stiletto heels really did push me over the edge a little. The only Circuses that I like are those of Piccadilly and Oxford here in London. Anyway, thankfully we rarely see live animals in retail spaces (unless you happen to be in Vegas) but even so I do occasionally come across them and in particular this fish in a tank at Victorinox annoyed me this year. This is just cruel and unnecessary don’t you think? The product could have been shown in a different way to communicate its qualities. Mid-life crisis descriptor (No. 11) Desire to become physical.
6. Thou shalt keep informed about current trends in Visual Merchandising
Why do we so often see the same schemes cropping up time and time again? Repetition of props such as umbrellas has been overdone now, right? I’m not entirely sure who produces some of the schemes, who designs them or who commissions some of them but surely just to go out onto the high streets and take a look requires such little effort? There are plenty of publications ‘out there’ from which to refer although how this information is interpreted and used is clearly a problem. As ever, the only limitation is our own imaginations and surely brands need to employ people who are creative, in tune with what is happening on the street, experienced and aware of how their work is being interpreted? It often feels as though we as customers are on the receiving end of a random vision from some retailers and one of my conclusions is that there is so much interference from other departments into the world of Visual Merchandising, which incidentally it appears that everyone else has worked in and everyone else wants to have a say but no-one else really seems to have a grasp of. So get out there and have a look to see what everyone else is doing. Simple. Mid-life crisis descriptor (No. 24) Desire to change the world for the better.
7. Thou shalt continue to develop the use of digital technology
I have been rather amazed at the amount of technology on the high street which has been launched in 2012. Hopefully the days of big old clunky machines that never really worked anyway are long gone. I’ve had hours of fun at the new McQ store in Dover Street and of course the brand spanking new Burberry store along Regent Street here in London. OK, well the majority of the technology is the implementation of giant video screens, so no news there then, although we are seeing more and more interactivity happening with the use of ipads at All Saints and the launch of the Matches Curation at Matches during London Fashion week and ‘machines’ which can photograph us, e-mail our images to everyone we know and let the world decide what we purchase. The days of London’s West End becoming an Elizabethan theme park of the way we used to shop are still, it seems a long way off yet although I am excited about the potential of virtual shopping at its most convincing. It would seem however, that even the levels of technology that we do current have access to is already alienating a proportion of society. As humans are sensitive creatures, it would appear that we are becoming ever lonelier. And there we were sat on our facebook, googling our twitters and all we wanted was to share the physical love between each other. Apparently digital social networking hasn’t quite lived up to our expectations after all and we’ve all realised that we want and desire real human interaction. Looks like customer service rather than technology is the biggy moving forward. Mid-life crisis descriptor (No. 32) Becoming fixated on new ‘wonder’ solutions to problems.
8. Though shalt not use motifs
Why do retailers always use the same old motifs year after year? This one has to be in our 10 commandments this year again as this never seems to move on. What is it with the use of Heart motifs in particular that retailers seem to feel the need to return to every year? There are of course variations on the theme but why do we have to keep producing the same stuff time and again? Motifs have no design left in them, and while they are of course universally recognisable can we now move onto something different? Is it the need for comfort, nostalgia or times where we felt secure? I don’t know the answer, but surely someone somewhere will do something to generate a different mood? Mid-life crisis descriptor (No. 29) Excessively looking back to one’s childhood
9. Thou shalt continue to support Visual Merchandisers
Supporting the Visual Merchandising teams within any retailer is critical. These teams are expected to work though the night, produce and produce to the highest levels and commit nearly all of their time. Of course, we love what we do and we wouldn’t want to do anything else, however, these guys need all the support they can receive in generating the best work on the high street. Of course most retailers will take these guys for granted and leach every ounce of creativity out of them with little opportunity for them to replenish their creative energy through visiting shows and exhibitions within a working day. Why? Because this is not viewed as work and God forbid anyone enjoy what they do for work, right? Staff development and investing in your teams is absolutely necessary and should be a priority in 2013 if you want to hang on to them. Mid-life crisis descriptor (No. 4) Change and invest in new things
10. Thou shalt have a fantastic 2013
I am certainly looking forward to 2013, mid-life crisis or not. In the meantime, I shall continue to have shifting sleep patterns (No 15), Doing things that get me into trouble (No. 34) Wonder where am I going with my life? (No. 31), maybe I will restart things I dropped 20 years ago (No. 23), play again just to play (No 30)
Oh what the hell, do your worst Mid-life crisis and bring it all on. Happy 2013..!