Shop Visits and Smash Bang Wallop

The main challenge of this window project was to actually find a shop owner who was willing to let a bunch of art students come and take over their beloved window shop fronts. This process was not as simple as once hoped as I ended up contacting 40 independent shops across London before we started gaining replies. The shop choices really boiled down to three: Smash Bang Wallop in crystal palace, East London Design Store and Drink Shop Do in Kings Cross. It was important that we could go and visit the space so as we were then able to visualize the window space along with the contents of the shop. I spontaneously visited Drink Shop Do and it was an amazing shop with beautiful concepts however the shop windows were not really big enough to create installation work as all the imagery would have to sit flat against the window. East London Design Store is a great opportunity as they promote individual designers with innovative ideas, however we seemed to catch them in a busy stage and we really need to get the ball rolling as soon as possible. Therefore, this left a visit to Smash Bang Wallop which is a small homeware store with a mixture of antiques, crafts and gifts. This shop is a wonderful mish mash of novelty items making special moments in interior design. The main attraction to the shop for us as window dressers was that there is a lot of space to work with and we could also use the second floor window space to extend our design. The shop owner is also very open and doesn’t want to put boundaries onto our ideas meaning that we have complete freedom.

My initial thoughts included aspects of the history of crystal palace within our design, but to also link this back to the contents of the shop. The shop reminded me of a little woodland world in which people are transported somewhere else when walking from the busy high-street. This is therefore something which could be used within our designs, and will lend itself to our style of work. The main rule of thumb when designing window displays, is to have 30% product and 70% prop and this therefore allows us to link both our illustrative work with 3D and then the promotional stock. There are some products which have stuck into my mind, for example the glass photo frames, wooden bowls, handmade soaps and the screen-printed tea towels. Therefore, my first ideas leave a space for these products and how they can work together to create a luxury lifestyle that our audience will desire.

To start the visual process, I have been focusing on dinosaur skin which sounds slightly random, however this is in reflection to dinosaur court which is a series of sculptures of extinct animals commissioned in 1852. These dinosaurs were to celebrate the palace’s move from Hyde park and sat alongside the great exhibition. It is therefore a major aspect of the areas culture as the dinosaurs are a still standing tall and are a hidden treasure of Bromley. I began to use left-over acetate and loosely follow the lines and texture which can be seen on a dinosaur’s skin. This created a linear pattern which appeared like contours on a map, but also related to the organic shapes and ethics of Smash Bang Wallop. I continued this technique on a bird’s eye image of the crystal palace maze, and also on the historic palace itself. White seemed like an obvious choice as I can layer these images and keep them neutral without distraction. However, I have also experimented with using the blues and oranges which are featured in SBW’s logo and on the shop front. A technical aspect which cannot be ignored is the dusky blue window frames and the orange titling, which of course need to be complimented within our final design. Also the windows are the only source of natural light on the ground floor and this is important for the inside displays and the shopping atmosphere. Therefore, the idea of acetate would give light to the space, but also allow for our illustration to be displayed. I was also considering the idea of paper cutting as a way of back drop but also keeping the view of the shop from passersby. This would also give patterned shadows as the light hit the display which could be interesting visually, especially on the blank wall at the back of the shop.

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