DYSON REINDEER AND OTHER FABULOUS CREATURES...
Yes - all of us at Peter Jones had the absolute pleasure of unveiling our amazing Christmas windows on the world yesterday, after two whole weeks of being shrouded in darkness and secrecy - and for once, the VM team had nothing to do with it !!
This is the amazing handiwork of the talented people at Chameleon Visual in conjunction with Setsquare Staging. Chameleon are the team responsible for our fabric sail-boats in the Furnishing Fabrics dept. on our Ground floor, and the fabulous giant fabric jellyfish floating above the fabric dept. in our Manchester store, when it opened a few years ago. (photos of them at the end of this piece)
This year, the good people at JL Central considered doing things a bit differently for the two biggest London stores, and contracted Chameleon Visual to create some special window-runs for our Christmas customers' amusement (and ours, it has to be said ) The resulting excitement on the Kings Road yesterday was really something to see - a real buzz was created, with clumps of people excitedly pointing fingers, mobile phones and cameras all the way along our window frontage. We decided to take advantage of this, and had various members of staff stationed with trays of mince pies at various points and a lady with a clipboard noting down comments from passers-by who were happily engaged in conversation by partners who talked about what products the animals were made of, and how they were constructed, and generally answered any questions. Comments were all in the vicinity of 'Amazing', 'Marvellous stuff - well done' and 'Oh my God, this is SO not John Lewis !!' - (we'll assume the lady that said that was happy about it !!)
People were very positive in their reactions, and had largely been stopped in their tracks by the best piece of visual retail theatre they'd seen for quite a while...
WINDOW 13 - 26 : WOODLAND SCENE
From the life-size reindeer made from various bits of Dyson vacuum cleaners, right down to the tiniest woodland creatures - red squirrels made from a coffee pot and some red cappuccino and espresso cups, and a bright green woodpecker made out of green-handled picnic knives, with sewing scissors for its eyes and beak, it's a game of 'Spot the Product' all the way...
One of the best and most imaginative creations are the rabbits, made largely from hair-dryers, along with hair straighteners for ears and hot-brushes for legs, electric shavers for a face, and I think, grey wire coat-hangers shaping the outline of their giant ears !!
As with all these animals, the amount of expression they managed to get into them was astounding, mainly from the poses - a quizzical tilt of the head, or a typical sitting pose, whether alone or in groups, and the interaction with each other is magical !!
Below is a wolf made out of angle-poise lamps, lights and filigree lampshades for his body, head and paws, and a curly flex for the big bushy tail - crouching down in a very typical dog-like pose...
No Christmas is complete without the turkey - and people loved the towel turkeys below !!
For me personally, the most exciting and the most beautiful creations are the various birds in flight - from crows and ravens made from cutlery, with knives for feathers, they have all the beauty and movement of the real thing...
Here's the first window run from the other end, and the star of the show was the big, beautiful, lumbering brown bear, made out of brown leather armchairs, with a chocolate brown fur throw across his back, waste-paper baskets for legs, and picnic hampers for shoulders - he has a fabulous face with scrolled armchair arms for ears and a small heart-shaped leather keyring for a nose - total genius !!
We have the rabbits made out of electrical hair-styling products, and now we also have hares made out of kitchen cleaning bits and pieces - black dust-pans and brushes for their bodies, in conjunction with various lime green and black washing-up brushes, and again the grey wire coat-hangers for ears - they are something special !! Leaping through the air and sitting round in chatty groups - as hares do !!
Haven't quite worked out what these are, but I am leaning in the direction of stoats or weasels, or maybe foxes with that big brushy tail ? Their little shiny chrome noses, in case your wondering, are actually Alessi walnut openers for £12 each !!
WINDOW 28 - 39 : THE ARCTIC NORTH POLE SCENE
The next run of windows, round the corner at the front of the store, into Sloane Square, are black and white, instead of white and red, and the floor is very shiny black vinyl, looking like water with big chunky ice floes, and various Polar animals running amok amongst all the large electricals...
A large Arctic wolf threatens a pack of small penguins on the neighbouring floe - (you do have to forget for a minute that penguins are down in the South Pole !!) - the wolf is made from assorted lighting again, and the penguins are made out of smart black coffee-makers with white cups at the front !! Their beaks are bright yellow plastic lemon reamers, and their orange webbed feet are plastic slotted spoons !!
More fabulous birds - puffins made out of various kitchen utensils, including scissor-style nut-crackers for a beak and slotted strainer-spoons for feet - their tail feathers are the handles of bright lime-green knives !!
Just look at the wonderful Snowy owls in flight - another amazing bird creation !! White plastic spatulas have been put to good use in forming their wings, their bodies are upside-down white kettles with their bases, and white tea-pots form the faces, with egg-timers for eyes !!
Our brightly coloured range of Kenwood 'kMix' kettles have been put to brilliant use with this pack of miniature penguins huddled together in a very small ice-floe...
The little penguins are hopping everywhere, in and out of fridges and dishwashers, up and down the window, from ice-floe to ice-floe !!
Here's a bit of a piece-de-resistance - each window has at least two !! This is a whale coming up for air - a couple of Smeg appliances, a fridge and a dishwasher, have been sliced in half diagonally to create the head, body and tail fins, whilst the blow-hole is spurting out a fountain of shiny chrome spoons !! Even the plates stacked inside the dishwasher give the illusion of that odd plankton filter that whales have instead of normal teeth!!
The other piece-de-resistance is the beautiful life-size polar bear, completely made out of Nintendo Wii products - spot the Wii gaming add-ons that you can buy - his legs are made out of the little steering wheels, and his body is made out of the Wii board, with various other bits and pieces making up the rest !! His face is made out of the Wii hand-sets...and I love his toes made out of the little white nunchuks - the extra little handset for your other hand !!
Last, but definitely not least, are my absolute favourites - even better than the rabbits and hares, reindeer or the brown and polar bears - these shiny chrome eagles are simply stunning !!
With a full array of very sharp kitchen knives forming the wing feathers, with the tall cheese grater for legs, and various other bits of shiny chrome cutlery forming their beaks and bodies, these magnificent creatures are most definitely my star of the show !!
Here's the Sloane Square end of the window run along the King's Road frontage, and a couple of very excited passers-by pointing at the penguins emerging from the dishwasher !! A typical reaction from the general public who have been energetically receptive to the joys of the 'Spot the Product' game that this window run inspires !!
The Oxford Street store has the same treatment for their windows too, but the Peter Jones run is much bigger because we have the longest continuous window run in London (in other words, they're not separate self-contained boxes with convenient grids across the ceiling or anything like that) - and the biggest square-footage of window space of any store in London - even Selfridges or Harrod's apparently !!
There's an interesting little video of a Telegraph reporter who went along to the Chameleon Visual factory to see how things were progressing :-
Chameleon Visual Ltd have much of their work on their website, including the two other main projects they've done for John Lewis in the past - our boats with fabric sails still in our fabric dept. and the aforementioned floating jellyfish for our Manchester store - here are a couple of photos of them:-
PETER JONES SAIL-BOATS
I hope you have enjoyed this little visual feast - if you are in London at any time before Christmas, take some time and come to see our store down in Chelsea - Sloane Square tube will get you there !! It'll definitely be worth it...