Friday, November 18, 2011

Fate, Christmas and The Cosmos

Image sources, from top to bottom, left to right: model in blue make up via Kelly Jasmine, gold paillette cami via Splenderosa, gold paillette sequins via unknown source, blue and white urn via unknown source, Carina Nebula via The Hubble Space Telescope, Raku Handprint Vase by Rebecca Anderson Pottery (aka newrelic) via Etsy, Buddha figure via unknown source, gold ornaments on stairs via Splenderosa, brass candleholder via eBay, black coque trim via unknown source.
In designing our latest Christmas window displays for YÜ Fashion, an upmarket women's clothing and accessories shop, I felt a bizarre restlessness. On one hand, as a businessperson, I knew that the current economic and political climate meant Christmas décor trends would be relatively conservative this year, but on the other hand, as an artist and a human being, I needed to convey a sense of celebration and appreciation for everything we all still have. Christmas is not a time to be dour (not for me, anyway), and since our client fell in love with ID BOHEMIA because of our theatrical set designs and displays, whatever was going to happen had to bridge the gaps between lean and luxurious, fashion and timelessness.

I'd started thinking about the windows back in early September, when Occupy Wall Street was but a twinkle in someone's revolutionary eye. My inclination was to do an all gold window, like a peek into King Midas' grandmother's attic, featuring gold, bronze and copper glass ornaments, gold sequins, polished brass candlesticks, antique doors, and ornate picture frames. It was beautiful in my mind's eye, but as time passed and I examined its details, it seemed like luxury prettiness purely for the sake of luxury prettiness, and not forward-thinking enough. After rolling ideas in my head for a couple weeks and not getting anywhere, I decided to make an inspiration board and see if anything coalesced.

At the same time, I'd been feeling (and am still feeling) even more introspective than usual. My 30th birthday is fast approaching, Christmas season is upon us, and an relaunch is in the works (Spring 2012, I hope!),  The passing of a decade always does strange, if predictable, things to one's perception of self. Couple that with daily reviews of a life's work and evaluations of what my business and art stand for, and you have the ingredients for an internal monologue of epic proportions. Who am I? Why am I here? Where do I come from? Where am I going? These are the questions I've been pondering. Me...and Gauguin.

I wanted the window to have a global feel to convey our human interconnectedness, and in putting together the inspiration board I found myself gravitating towards images of starry skies and nebulae for their expansive connotations (and I admit, some part of my internal monologue included the lyrics to Michael W. Smith's "Place In This World"). When I found the two images below, everything fell into place.

Of all the images included in the board, the one on the right (above) is the most faithful to my original idea. What drew me to the image on the left was the warm/cool contrast between the model's blue skin and her gold makeup and the brass zipper on her chest, but as I looked at the image, what I liked even more was how her blue skin reminded me of Krishna and Vishnu. I liked making a Hindu connection, however tenuous, to a traditionally Christian holiday, and later as I walked around IDB HQ looking for props to include in the window, the thread of world religions gave me permission to use two Buddhas in stone and gold in the windows. The underlying theme of the windows became a sense of place and history, with motifs built on celestial objects and the low-key use of religious iconography.

I don't have photos of the windows to include in this post yet, as I'm still looking for a photographer, but to help you imagine how we built the window, we began with a vibrant backdrop of blue-violet satin, and hung large cutouts of a moon and stars covered in fine silver glitter. From there, we added large gold-framed mirrors for reflective shine and to create a sense of architecture, and a large blue and white Chinese floor vase for another layer of colour and impression of history. We cherry-picked our favourite peacock blue and gold Christmas ornaments and gold and blue handthrown pottery from our collections and placed them around the displays, setting the pottery in clusters around the floor reminiscent of moon craters, and the ornaments either on the floor or in glass apothecaries. We then finished each display with a Buddha figure and tasteful placards with our company name and contact info. Once I have photos of the displays, I'll be sure to post them.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this video my friend Scott sent to me. Sometimes we need a reminder that even if we're standing still, the universe is moving around us.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Shop 'Til You Drop!

Our friend Jenna at Flowers by Jenna is taking part in the Shop Till You Drop Expo,  a pre-Christmas shopping event happening today at the Delta Edmonton South. You may remember Jenna as the designer who created the stunningly romantic floral arrangements for ID Bohemia's "Beauty & The Beast" editorial, seen on the WedLuxe Couture Chronicles. This post will talk about how we designed and put together her booth.

Jenna really wanted a warm and homey feel for her booth—classy and elegant, yet welcoming and a bit rustic. Though Jenna's personal style is somewhat minimal, she wanted something more lush and full for her booth to give her customers plenty of holiday decorating inspiration. She loves antiques, too, so we made sure to bring in some well-worn pieces, both antique and reproduction. For colour, she wanted her flowers to be the feature, so we grounded the booth in soothing tones of brown, grey and cream, letting the flowers act as pops of colour against this neutral backdrop. Our inspiration for her booth design came from the many amazing flower boutiques my partner Aaron and I visited during our honeymoon in Paris, as well as local design-savvy garden centres like Wellington and Greenland.

Since Jenna would be displaying and selling lots of flowers, greens and wreaths, we needed to unify all that texture, colour, and otherwise small stuff with some big gestures. ID Bohemia hung off-white curtains across the back of her space, creating a big block of colour (yes, white is a colour) to frame everything within the booth, and lightening the atmosphere considerably from the usual black trade show drapery. We advised Jenna to frame her banner prior to the show, to give her banner (i.e. her name and brand) a clean and polished look. We hung the framed banner across the back of the booth with wide grey ribbon tied in bows.

As another big gesture, we created a long counter, spanning the entire booth, by laying thick salvaged fir beams across two black wrought iron urns. On the counter, we arranged several antique wooden crates Jenna had found at country garage sales, and placed galvanized buckets inside for bunches of cedar and curly willow, and bouquets of hydrangea, lilies and cymbidium orchids. For greater texture and sparkle, we added rustic terracotta finials, and glass apothecaries filled with gold and silver ornaments. For height, Jenna created a simple arrangement of birch branches hung with ornaments. The informal symmetry of the cedar boughs and birch branches framed her booth nicely, lending the space greater presence without being overwhelming.

Jenna asked for a surface to write down contact info for her customers, where she could also keep her business cards and 4"x6" postcard coupons (10% off wedding packages over $1000). We placed a round, weathered wood table to one side of the booth, and then laid a lace tablecloth across the top for a casual French touch. A gourmet gift basket that Jenna had created took center stage on the table, and we then arranged her business cards and postcards around it in vintage ceramic and silver bowls.

To really give the booth a room-like feel, we laid a neutral-toned rug on the floor, knowing its hard-wearing material would  stand up to lots of foot traffic. On top of the rug, we laid out vintage galvanized wash basins, lined them with heavy brown cotton cloth, and placed Jenna's fresh wreaths inside. To vary the height and texture, we then mixed in her fresh bouquets of lilies, roses, kale and tulips. Prices were handwritten on manila shipping tags and tied on with sisal twine, a sweet touch that emphasised the handmade nature of Jenna's work. The antique window frame and slipper chair (Jenna had reupholstered it herself!) were the perfect finishing elements to her inviting space, and as the doors opened and guests began streaming in, we were happy to hear several oohs and ahhs.

ID Bohemia has built its reputation on spectacular event design for weddings, social events and corporate celebrations, but did you know we also design trade show booths, window displays and other promotional settings? If you are looking for a distinctive environment for your next trade show or window display, we'd love to hear from you! What do you think of Jenna's booth?

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