This weeks post is a playful round up which showcases how retailers are reconnecting with their customers using their brands tone of voice.

Harvey Nichols current scheme focuses on key trend statements for this season and also uses directional language to engage the customer. Experimental mannequin groupings impact the windows; it’s really interesting to see the boundaries being pushed. (Photos curiosity of Melvyn Vincent)

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Harvey Nichols side run of windows takes inspiration from the monochrome front scheme and have added tongue ‘n’ cheek phrases for a handbag focus concept. (Photos curiosity of Melvyn Vincent)

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Topman’s The General Store also has played with directional arrows for a simple and effective vinyl scheme.

French Connection has revisited an old marketing campaign ‘FCUK’, creating a reveal window using playful phrases.

I love the simplistic approach Coast has used in their current scheme, creating an automated Rolodex back wall, with different letters/words continuously rolling and changing. A very cost effective way of having movement with a low-fi tech approach with the noise of the Rolodex adding another element to the scheme.

Mass retail focus on casual luxe concepts with sports being another huge statement for VM, Liberty have dedicated a run of windows to sports - pulling inspiration from equipment, pitch markings and signage – with the slogan ‘A match made in Liberty’

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Wall branding at Size – using associated props to create texture.

New store opening – Adidas have just opened off Carnaby Street, strong brand statements have been interwoven within the fixtures and fitting. Interesting uses of floor signage and collaborative window artwork.

Accessories are always hard to display, so when new VM approaches are used its great to highlight them. McQ has combined campaign visuals with industrial clamps to display the glasses around the poster.

Repetition at Liberty with the glasses attached to a sport net.

The scarf room at Liberty are always challenging new ways to VM the product; love the softness of these scarf wings on the mannequins. (Photos curiosity of Lucky Fox)

Colour vs. Texture Electric blue has been used as a highlight colour (Joseph, JCrew).

Sound texture cocoons the mannequins at COS.

Blanket of stick lights illuminate Topshop/Topman windows creating a wall of lights.

Mannequin Update:
Monochrome delights at Harvey Nichols with heavy facial features and text elements. (Photos curiosity of Melvyn Vincent)

Experimental mannequin positioning at Harvey Nichols. (Photos curiosity of Melvyn Vincent)

Chanel’s new window plays with mannequin positioning combined with 2.D imagery.

Moschino = Fantastically playful.

Out and about in London:
Festival of Love at the Southbank – strong neon type and materials were a take away from this pop-up event.

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Out of the Ordinary at Christies – Unusual props/objects that have a weird and wonderful story to tell.

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This week I popped into ‘The Space’ the new creative hub for SFD to meet Richard Whitaker, Head of Design and Paul Brooks, Owner of SFD talking me through exciting new projects they have been working on and the newly refreshed brand direction.

HM: Your Company covers a vast area of expertise, but what best describes SFD?

SFD: We are currently refreshing the brand, driving our design strength skills and making creative our key focus. Design is being pushed to the forefront of what we do and leading the new way. Everything else that the brand offers is getting a fine-tuning, making sure the SFD language is still coherent and running throughout the newly redefined brand sections.

HM: With so many competitors in the industry what plans do you have to keep the brand moving forward?

SFD: We cover all parts of the industry, which enables us to talk to many different clients. We have recently opened a UK factory, which enables us to keep everything in-house. ‘The Space’ is the newly refreshed design studio space, the look, feel and environment is key for people coming into the space. Having control at all stages of the production process is key to delivering an exceptional service for our clients. Our international offices are expanding and growing which is something we are really excited about being able to connect globally with clients.

HM: What current projects are you working?

SFD: We have teamed up with London Design Festival as one of this year’s partners, showcasing the work of Set Designer Lauren O’Hara. Collaborating with young talent is a key statement to make sure our industry keeps evolving. We are exploring the concept of combining the elements of set design, art and retail to transform ‘The Space’ into a creative hub of inspiration.

HM: Where do you see the future of retail design in-store and windows?

SFD: Everyday its changing and evolving, with the industry being so heavily trend driven we feel that the future will comprise of 2 elements: firstly technology the continuation of the digital era. However we feel this has to be developed and refined more for the industry to understand how to use and implement it in a practical way, which holds a purpose. Retailers can be more experimental with the ways in which technology is used to interact with its customers, its presence is more important than ever to engage with the new generation of consumer. Secondly the future will see the re-emergence of theatre in our stores. Bringing the drama back to the high street with creative spaces. It’s that fine line to understanding the relationship between art/design direction/ technology and social media.

HM: What area of your business you would like to expand and experiment more with?

• Technology as an area of our business we have seen a constant growth of interest in.
• The design/creative, which we are making the key focus for SFD moving forward.
• Also as the business as grown so has the International and manufacturing side which we need to maintain.

HM: How important is social media to your business? Do you actively connect via the social platforms?

SFD: Very important, but its making sure we have a clear understanding on how we want to use all social media platforms. Its great for reaching out to the creative community, we run a Designed by SFD tumblr site, which we update just with inspiring imagery as a non-work related feed, using the platform to upload cool things that we are all interested in to offload into creative space.

HM: Interactive retail technology is evolving and more retailers are experimenting with it, is this just a gimmick or will it become a regular feature of the shopping experience/retail displays?

SFD: Balance is key – we are totally against using technology for tech sake, when you use it, it should be to enhance the shopping experience and most importantly it should be relevant. The shopping experience should still hold the old values of shop theatre whichever media platform you choose to use. Also the implementation of the technology needs to be credible, now more than ever because as a consumer we understand it more. This will only develop as the younger generations are more exposed to the latest technology.
With the last bits of sale out the way, new season windows have dropped in the past few weeks. So here’s a round up of what’s in London at the moment.

Up up and away with this fantastic use of product and prop at Smythsons.

Artist illustrations enable every detail to be shown, love the use of the faces at Schuller Opticians to display glasses while Holstem focuses on the intricate details of shoemakers with these fantastic pencil sketches on wood and leather, which make for an interesting surface to sketch on.

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Oversized elements from giant legs at Fenwicks to animalistic heads at Coach.

Newly refurbished Nike Lab 1948 store has opened; strong outlines and shapes have been used, interesting use of infinity mirrors with neon lights for product tables.

Foam shapes are adapted and sculpted into human forms at DSM.

If you haven’t seen the latest product range from Anya Hindmarch you need to make sure you see them soon, fun pint-sized bags of joy and nostalgia which resemble cereal boxes and biscuit packaging. I’m sure we will see other great displays for this product in the next few months.

Meet the Makers is the new collaboration at Selfridges. Supporting, showcasing the stores most favourite food and drink makers.

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Current must see exhibitions this week: Digital Revolution at the Barbican. Brings together a range of artist, filmmakers, architects, designers, musicians and game developers in one immersive and interactive exhibition. It’s an amazing showcase for digital creativity.

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