I’ve been in Manchester this week, installing a new window display for the Harvey Nichols store. The scheme was designed and built by Charlie Whinney back in 2009 and since then has toured the group’s stores in Edinburgh, Leeds, Birmingham and Bristol. Each store is different in terms of window sizes so we adapt and modify the structures to suit. Made from steam-bent ash and oak, the structures are remarkably strong and flexible so we can get them into a shape to fit the space and placement of mannequins.
We were assisted by the in-house display team who helped with the assembly and gave valuable advice on what would be visible from the street and how to maximise the overall visual effect. I thought that working in the window of a shop in a busy city location would feel very awkward for being literally ‘on display’. Actually it was interesting how invisible it felt, as though we could observe the passing shoppers while being anonymous ourselves.
This was even more obvious on Tuesday evening when we worked through the night to install more loops and knots of ash onto the main entrance canopy. Lots of people passed by on their way to from a night out but few stopped to ask what we were doing or how the piece was made. Maybe folk in the city see this sort of thing all the time.
The next day though we were pleased when the security staff on the front door said that, as professional people-watchers, they always keep an eye on the public’s response to a new display and had noticed that our steam-bent scheme was catching people’s eye and making them look. Job done.
After it’s spell in Manchester, the final stop for the work is Harvey Nichols in Dublin so hopefully I will be on the installation team for that too, it’s certainly interesting to see the other side of how big stores work.