Window to the Future

In a unique collaboration, Creative Review and Selfridges joined forces earlier this year for Shape of the Future. Seven of our Creative Futures winners and runners-up from last year were each given a week in Selfridges’ largest window. The brief was simple: create an installation around the theme of shape, building on the work of the previous occupant. This is what happened next…

Week One: Ali Alvarez

What was your idea for the window?

The idea was to take a shape that is famous throughout history in art and design, The Golden Rectangle (more commonly known as the golden proportion), and make it an all-knowing power that the public could ask any question of as well as interact with via all sorts of media. The Golden Rectangle was displayed in the window, but you could interact with it via its own website: shapesaretheanswer.com, through a camera that measured your face for Golden Proportions, or through the Golden Mobile that was at the information kiosk in the store (see below).

What did you leave behind for the next person to work with?

I left it as-is. With the suspended rectangle, plasma screens in either window, and posters on the wall.

How did you spend your time in the window?

Dressed in a “uniform” of a white jumpsuit and gold aviators, I changed the postings on the wall that displayed different questions being asked of the Golden Rectangle.

Was it a good experience?

It was a hot experience. It was great to lose a bit of weight… and oh yeah, it was great to think about the impact of a 3D space on the public.

Did you get any interesting feedback from passers-by?

It’s so hard to stop traffic on a busy street. But in the evening, when the TVs were best seen, a lot stopped and interacted with it. Success.

Is there anyone else who should be credited for the work you did for your week in the window?

All the people at Fallon and Happen (and of course, Selfridges) for helping me put together my “mini-campaign” in such a short amount of time, especially with crazy requests for things like white jumpsuits.

Account director: Chris Kay (Happen). Website & design: Jamie Craven and Pete Lewis (Fallon). Film /interactive installation: Skander Allani (Fallon).

Production/crazy requests: Will Heath, Jamie Teale, Neil Crook (Fallon).

 

Week two: Random International

What was your idea for the window?

It was based around creating a large temporary display that could be attached to any object by simply applying a specific light reactive paint onto the surface and then creating a machine that travelled up and down over the surface forming images and words with light. In this case, the canvas was a simple ply-board sheet 2.5m by 1.5m, hung from the ceiling. The idea of creating a momentary image has been evolving in the rAndom studio for the past year or so. We hoped that the ephemeral quality of the content we showed in the window would capture the audience’s imagination, evolving ideas around shape and form from the static into ideas and glimpses created by the machine.

How did you go about incorporating the previous person’s window into your own design?

Ali, the previous occupant, created a golden frame which gave us the idea of creating a canvas for our machine, using the dimensions of the golden ratio which Ali was investigating during her occupancy.

How closely did the final execution correspond to your original plans?

As most of our work is very experimental, we design extremely versatile systems which can adapt on the fly within an environment. London was experiencing a heat wave during the time of our occupancy and the window reached temperatures in excess of 40oC which affected the light reactive ink’s ability to hold an image across its full length. As the machine rolled from top to bottom, text would fade out after every other word. This effect created a kind of conversation between the passer-by and the canvas which demanded more of the audience’s time than was previously envisaged. It seemed to work well though as often small crowds would gather to learn that “We make stuff work, stuff makes us work, like bananas”.

What did you leave behind for the next person to work with?

Unfortunately a big empty space, which seems kind of appropriate given its own ephemeral quality.

Was it a good experience?

I think we learnt a lot about adapting content on the fly and learning how extreme conditions, ie heat, can be used to our best advantage. We all lost a few extra pounds so we looked better in our Speedos for summer. We had lots of confused and bewildered onlookers during our time in the window mainly because it’s probably something no-one has ever seen before. Images appeared on the canvas as if they were directly painted on, then seemed to fade back into the wood, so it can be quite a magical experience for an audience. I think we like to play with this idea of creating simple machines and objects and give them a double life as magicians.

 

Week Three: Steve Wilson

What was your idea for the window?

My idea was to cover the walls and floor of the window, as well as several large Perspex shapes, in vinyl cut illustrations to create an environment made up of fluid illustrations that contrasted with the basic geometric shapes – circle, square and triangle – which were the basic shapes at the heart of the theme.

Did you make objects to go into the window or did Selfridges develop them for you?

I designed illustrations (some of which were originally commissioned by Identikal for the Ecko Red clothing company) and had them printed in vinyl that specifically fitted the space (walls and floor). I also covered clear Perspex shapes with vinyl drawings: these were provided by Selfridges.

How did you go about incorporating the previous person’s window into your own design?

Ali had left a large golden shape within the space. I incorporated this by covering it with drawings in the same way I had covered the clear Perspex shapes provided by Selfridges.

What did you leave behind for the next person to work with?

I left behind a room covered from floor to ceiling in drawings…

Tell me about what you did when you were physically in the window?

I spent the whole time applying the vinyl cut illustrations to the space, gradually filling it bit by bit each day until I had covered as much of the area as possible. I videoed my working time within the space and condensed it into a short film which can be seen at www.aweekinthewindow.com.

Was it a good experience?

Yes, initially it was quite strange to have people staring at you from outside but I soon got used to it. Quite different from my day to day experience of working in a small studio which is quite isolating. A lot of people stopped to look, film, take photos, etc.

 

Week four:Sian Davies

What was your idea for the window?

I aimed to design cushioned letters of varying scales out of fabric inspired by the 1960s. The beanbag style of the letters enabled words to be arranged in a number of ways and proved versatile. It was central to my proposal to keep the spirit of window 20 “alive”. I changed and developed the design of the window display on a regular and evolving basis throughout the week and spent as much time in the window as possible, staging new words and sentences.

What did you leave behind for the next person to work with?

The letters and sewing machine were left so that others were able to assemble their own messages or simply stack/jumble to take on new un-readable forms and shapes.

Tell me about what you did when you were physically in the window?

Whilst I was in the window I treated it as a performance and related my words/questions/sayings to whatever inspired me from the passing street scene. When I was not in the window I treated the window as an installation space leaving behind thought-provoking proverbs.

Did you get any interesting feedback from passers-by?

The dimension of punter participation developed naturally during the week. I was keen on experimenting with the letters in a surprising and playful way, interacting with the public by arranging and staging comments.

 

Week five: Esther Teichmann

What was your idea for the window?

I wanted to create a mini studio/set and shoot “live”, so that the taking of the actual images was the “image” and the interaction and relationship between subject and photographer could be followed by the audience passing the window.

How did you go about incorporating the previous person’s window into your own design?

The previous elements acted as almost a grid to look through, creating a little more privacy, whilst adding a peep hole effect.

What did you leave behind for the next person to work with?

I hung one large print against the vinyl on the wall and left some smaller colourful prints in the foreground of the window, which could be moved or worked with/incorporated into further work if required.

Was it a good experience?

Making the window into a mini studio for the week and shooting work which is in essence extremely private and personal in such an exposed space was an amazing experience. The space actually became incredibly private and one became oblivious to the outside. There were incredibly large audiences out on the street at times, yet no-one was intimidating or aggressive. Lots of families and mothers with children seemed intrigued, and on one day a film crew was interviewing the public outside and was asking them about their reactions and interpretation of the “performance”.

Is there anyone else who should be credited for the work you did for your week in the window?

My mother for her patience, courage and generosity.

 

Week six: The Projects

What was your idea for the window?

Selfridges gave us an open brief, so we decided to play on the idea of window displays. We created a selection of consumer branded “Objects of Desire”, ranging from household appliances, to fashion, furniture and electronic goods. We recreated the shape and form of these goods using disposable materials and found objects, so their original function was lost, and only their form, colour and shape was represented, whilst the material we had salvaged was clearly visible. Selfridges, a shopping mecca, enabled us to play a bit of a consumerist game.

How did you go about incorporating the previous person’s window into your own design?

We used objects as shapes: Siân’s type became a satellite dish.

What did you leave behind for the next person to work with?

Everything.

Tell me about what you did when you were physically in the window?

We made new objects and built the plinths.

Was it a good experience?

Yes, although having an audience while you work was bizarre. Most of the time you work closed off from your intended audience, so it is interesting to see the reaction of the viewer. Some people were intrigued and enjoyed guessing each object, some smiled, some were baffled, but the street has a very diverse audience.

Is there anyone else who should be credited for the work you did for your week in the window?

We had an assistant help us, a recent graduate, Nick Hallott from Brighton University, who was keen to work with us. He was brilliant.

 

Final week: Henki Leung (Airside)

What was your idea for the window?

People always look in, I wanted to turn things on their head – to design a set of characters to look out at the people who would interact/bring a smile to the window-shoppers. I imagined that, after six weeks, the window would be filled with all sorts, so the idea is that the characters are also commenting on the work behind them.

How did you go about incorporating the previous person’s window into your own design?

It was quite a mess in there. We hijacked all the plinths that The Projects used and attached eyes to them and any other squares/cubes we found. I just wanted to populate the window space with square characters.

What you did when you were physically in the window?

Watch beautiful people walk by, cut/fold my paper cubes…

Was it a good experience?

Yes, a very good experience but also completely out of my comfort zone – I’d never worked in a 3D space. I didn’t get much feedback, only puzzled looks, but I got a few smiles from children being dragged away.

Is there anyone else who should be credited for the work you did for your week in the window?

Oh yes! Anna Fidalgo – she helped out big time on the first day in the window, plus provided bad jokes for the character comments. Kwok Fung Lam – all animation. Emma Hodson – for providing equally bad jokes for character comments, some too dark to use.

 


 

 

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