Windows of the soul
Hello, and I want to thank everyone who has sent me sentiments of sympathy after the death of my mother Kitty in early July.
She was a lovely mum, and as my cousin confirmed ‘her proudest achievement was the birth of her two children.’ This is such a beautiful comment. As a teacher, she devoted her career to the education of children, and her impact on so many young people will be remembered for a long time to come. Her life was a rich and happy one and I will miss her loving and caring nature and her unconditional support. Rest in peace Kit xx
One thing that she really loved about me was my passion for art and one way that I have expressed this in my jewellery career has been my store merchandising. From an early age, she helped me produce beautiful images for school projects and presentations. Unlike when I ‘helped’ my children (and kept embellishing their work instead of leaving it to them), she never took over but encouraged me to do it myself. I know it was her artistic talent and teaching ability that allowed her to pass on her guidance. I love her for that.
In November and December 2016, I briefly touched on jewellery window displays that I love creating. Since the late 1980s, I began a style of displaying jewellery that attracted much comment. I want to share with you the initial introduction of a book that I am still to finish. I just need to allocate some more time to collate all the photographs and information. I’ve named the book “Windows of the Soul’ and I hope to complete it soon. It begins:
It is my belief that store displays and merchandising are two of the most powerful tools a retailer can use, but unfortunately it is often not well done or it’s ignored. They are mediums by which you can convey your brand, your style, your product, your image, your innovation and your individuality.
How else can you stop people in their tracks, excite and entertain them and transport them into a world of intrigue? It is important to seduce the onlooker and mesmerize them with your message.
Beautiful, dramatic, whimsical, unexpected, serious and controversial, the subject matter should be undiluted so you communicate your meaning clearly and directly, but not without a little bit of mystery and fun. I have always created memorable windows playing with props using random well-known objects presented in a different way and linking them cleverly to the items displayed. The link sometimes takes a moment to reveal itself, but it means the viewer lingers at the display a bit longer, which is surely an advantage in the competitive business world of today.
Jewellery stores, in particular, have often followed similar store design details, with designers trapped into using predictable layouts and materials, and this often means the stores are too similar in appearance and by their very nature intimidating. In my opinion, the front window displays should always be the ‘jewel’ of your store. I believe window spaces are a primary visual area, and the memory of them should stay in the minds of shoppers who have viewed them. Regular changes also keeps the clients interested and anticipating the next new theme.
In my opinion, for more impact, the inner store displays should echo the theme in the window and the showcases in their own right allow variations of the main window theme still giving a consistent feel within the skin of the store. Even elements of the window themes and colours can be used in the boxes and gift-wrapping themes making the whole message within the store more powerful.
I believe that providing a new experience for consumers provides a better interest factor and connection, and enticing the passer-by to stop, look, consider and enter your store, facilitates a chance to improve your sales. They will also be intrigued enough, if your display is effective, to ask about the inspiration behind the display. It is then up to the retailer, once the client is in the store, to explain the theme and offer a retail experience the client will never forget.
Windows should reveal the soul of the store by clever use of space, props, colour, lighting and information and they should reveal the product in a manner that gives you the edge and extends the reputation of your brand. If the customer has enjoyed the experience there is no doubt they will share their adventure with others.
My book will have a lot of visuals of the many windows, which I’ve had photographed over the years, and looking back, it is interesting how often I have used the four seasons to portray my message.
One year, celebrating summer I created a beach setting complete with a sign, a table setting, hat, towel, books, and a box holding jewellery as if the pieces have just been taken off in readiness for a swim:Also another of my favorites was an entire window filled with painted paper parasols in bright colours and the jewellery displayed on the under side of them so the shopper had to enter the store to discover what I had displayed – adding a touch of mystery:
In winter I created a brick path through trees all covered in snow and necklets hanging in the trees, a winter wonderland!
Spring was always a favourite and one year I made coiled springs in pastel colors and wrapped them around three mannequins adding enormous paper flowers blooming with jewellery:
Christmas was also a challenge each year, and I often used our Pike fish logo in different forms, always with a hidden piece of jewellery included:
I always waited for the first shopping day in December, and one year I began with one gift-wrapped box in a black and white theme, and added one each day, still in black and white but all using different patterns and ribbons and I ended up with a window full on Christmas Day. Some were left slightly open with jewels peeping out to add some excitement.
In my most effective displays, there is a direct correlation between the props and the jewellery item. The link between the jewels and my display is always there. Often I would think ‘How do I represent the jewellery item in the most unexpected and clever way possible?’ From this would grow a concept that may not be blatantly obvious, but once discovered would cause enjoyment and comment.
I often had clients and people passing by, stop and come into the stores to congratulate me on the displays. Many times it was revealed that they had changed their normal path so they could wander past my store to see what I had created. I have proved that if you can foster a conversation about what they have seen, this becomes shared information and that chat can often lead to a new client visiting the store through good old ‘word of mouth’. Effective displays can be a subtle and constant reminder that you and your store are worth a visit when the shopper is next walking by.
Two of the worlds most famous display architects who had a strong influence on me are Gene Moore and Mary Portas.
Gene worked for Tiffany & Co in New York for more then 39 years and his first windows were created for them in Christmas 1955. He contributed not only to the world of art and design but was responsible for changing forever the style and concept of window display.
Mary who began her company Yellow Door in 1997 in London has been involved with some of the most famous companies, Harvey Nicholls, Bergdorf Goodman, Louis Vuitton, Swarovski, Dunhill, Prada, Gucci and Burberry to name just few. Both have been an inspiration to me and I think they have rewritten the rule book for retail brand communication. See more of their work here.
I have not had the opportunity to develop a strong window focus in the new studio at Highgate, but I’m working on it.
Until my next blog, keep well and visit us soon for a chat or some complimentary cleaning of your favourite pieces.
Love Nicholas x
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