Category Archives: Interviews

Interview: Stuart Henry from JUSTSo talks display

“A window is a brand’s voice to the world.” and other quotes on windows and clients in an in-depth interview with Stuart Henry, the founder of JUSTSo.

KL: When is a display ‘JUSTSo’? What is the story behind the name of the company?

SH: A project is “Just So” when we have completely delivered and exceeded our clients vision and expectations, on time and within budget. For us there are a few main areas of great importance; the creative elements, production, project management and the installation. When these elements come together flawlessly then our job is done! Having personally worked with the world’s foremost luxury brands and VIP clients delivering anything less than a perfection will not do.

Whatever our clients want, it must be done “Just So”, perfectly arranged with great attention to the finest detail. We take our name seriously and this is the DNA of our business and at the heart of how we think and act. Our name is reassuringly simple. It tells you that what we do, we do without fail. Our name reminds us, and you, that whatever we undertake, we do so with a great sense of pride and understanding.  Our name is a guarantee and stamp of the utmost quality.

KL: What is the structure of the team at JUSTSo?

SH: The core team at JUSTSO consists of six people. In addition to this, we work with the best designers, artists, craftsmen, chefs, technicians, florists, dressers and stylists which are hand chosen for each project to ensure we deliver the highest results possible.

KL: What is important in a client-company relationship?

SH: We build a solid lasting relationship with each and every client we work with. This is achieved by surpassing their expectations at all times and consistently delivering superior quality results. Most importantly, our clients have the reassurance in knowing that we won’t let them down. Whether it be a brief with very short delivery times or a national roll out campaign we treat each and every brief with the utmost importance, however big or small. We build an immense trust with each and every client and ensure they feel they are the most important person we deal with, because they are.

“Our aim with every client is to become an extension of their team and really get under the skin of every brief we receive; we totally immerse ourselves in their brand to ensure we completely understand their objectives and their vision.”

When working with the world’s leading retailers and blue chip companies we take great care, touching their brand with a delicate hand and with much respect. It is through this approach that we ensure everything we deliver “Just So” for each and every client, on each and every brief.

KL: What makes a successful window?

SH: A successful window is one that clearly delivers a message directly to the customer. Whether this be communicating a brand campaign or promoting a new product launch it is all about engaging with the customer passing and giving them an insight into the values and personality behind the brand and the products it sells.

All retailers are looking for ways to stand out and speak to potential customers over their competitors. When this is successfully achieved the customer steps inside the store for more. Successful widow displays have a huge impact on sales and can strengthen the relationship between the customer and the retailer.

KL: How do you see the relati onship between props and the products in a window?

SH: The props used in a window should provide a platform to showcase the products being displayed.  The props should be eye-catching to the customer but at the same time should not take away the focus from the actual product being displayed.

“Props are a great way to tell a story.”

SH: Many factors are considered when choosing what materials to produce a prop from – these factors include;

  • Look and feel of the campaign and how the material reflects this
  • Budget available – we would always look to source the most cost-effective materials in order to achieve the desired look
  • Durability/longevity required from the prop
  • Suitability of the material for Its purpose – i.e. is a certain prop feasible in a certain material
  • Health & Safety
JUSTSo is a boutique visual communications and event management agency based in central London who focus on creative design, visual communications, art direction, window displays, party planning and events for the lifestyle, luxury, corporate, retail and fashion sectors.
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Interview: Thomas Aitchison on Bentalls windows

Bentalls, Kingston, Greater London

Thomas Aitchison, the Head of Visual for Bentalls department store group talks to us about the visual language of the Kingston store windows. I love the way the current scheme uses word association to bring different products (such as tea cups and umbrellas) together around the store.

Kaisa Leinonen: I like the way this scheme uses phrases to bring different products together. How did the concept come about?

Thomas Aitchison: Last year we did a scheme called ‘Colour My World’ which merged fashion and home in a quirky way. The mannequins were all renovated in an eighties style. Some were draped over washing machines or leaning on Smeg fridges but the main idea was to show as many departments within the window run. The challenge this year was to try to find another way of anniversarising this. The ‘Play On Words’- scheme  started with the “Let’s raise a toast!” mixing champagne and toasters. From there I walked around the store visiting every department trying to find another phrase that worked with the product.

Combining winter wear and fridges together.

KL: What is the structure of the Bentalls design and visual team?

TA: We are a small team of 6. I have 2 people working on Signage & Graphics and 3 people focus on Display. The display assistants are split between Home, Fashion & Window dressing, whilst the signage team produce all the in-store collateral along with any graphic elements used within the windows. We are very lucky to have a great in-store maintenance team who assist with joinery and electrical work. I look after both of the Bentalls’ stores, Kingston & Bracknell, responsible for all visual merchandising and display from design through to installation.

KL: Bentalls windows often have repetitions of icons etc, is that a conscious visual decision?

TA: The main window run is on the Kingston one-way system so we class these as drive-by windows. I guess I use the repetition so that the main focus becomes the merchandise, and the scheme is just a backdrop.

KL: What other elements are part of Bentalls visual language?

TA: I don’t have any strict guidelines that i have to follow when coming up with schemes however I do try to make every installation completely different to the previous one. In doing this I try to rotate different mannequins and props. When selecting merchandise for the windows we try to choose brands which are new, exclusive to Bentalls or simply complimentary to the theme.

KL:  How do you approach a new window design?

TA: A lot of the time the ideas will come from the merchandise. Following a promotional calendar we know what type of stock we will be displaying, it’s just about finding a new and exciting way of doing it. I find inspiration from shows and competitive shopping around the world. Another key factor to the window design is balancing the workload and the budget. We work to tight budgets so most of our installations are produced in-house.

KL: How far ahead do you plan your seasonal window calendar?

TA: The windows are planned six months ahead, working alongside our marketing department ensuring all promotional activity coincides.

KL: What would you never compromise in a window?

TA: It’s hard to say that you would never compromise on anything. As well as achieving the look you have to be commercial. Sometimes using more support from brands, ie letting them do their own schemes could be seen as a compromise but it does enable you to spread your budget a bit further.