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The Allure of Window Displays


While exploring the streets of Barcelona I was captivated by the array of colourful, expressive and intriguing window displays. The anti-consumerist in me was conflicted about the enticing designs because their purpose is to persuade consumers to buy their products. However, every business and creative outlet exists because of their customers and the creativity that stems from the desire to make money is often innovative and unique. Cristina Paredes’ book ‘Store Window Design’ explores themes of “the development of consumerism, the seduction of the passer-by, the juxtaposition of permanence (the window itself) and change (the window’s contents).” She explores the importance of ‘branding’ and its success in attracting customers and their loyalty. I personally agree with its importance as I find myself drawn to products, companies and spaces with brands that are a ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ (total work of art), thus making me feel part of something. It is clearly in a business’s best interest to create a brand identity and shopping ‘experience’ in order to keep customer engagement.

Branding and immersive shopping ‘experiences’ have hit the high streets and none more visibly than in Barcelona, the wealthy and bohemian Catalonian capital. The first window displays in shops were installed in the late 18th century in London and stemming from that came the art of window dressing and the new experience of window shopping. Interestingly the figure of speech, “window dressing” means something done to make a better impression, and sometimes this can imply dishonesty. This aspect reinforces my distaste for consumerism, where packaging and image mean more than content and quality. However, by taking an enlightened and realistic view of consumerist culture I am able to appreciate the genuine creativity that is generated from these kinds of businesses and put aside my distaste.

Developing technologies and ideas are transforming our world to become more interactive and over-stimulated. Too keep up with this I feel that the artistic world is moving on from the days of white-walled galleries and into a movement of art that is not confined to galleries and can be engaged with by the viewer through a variety of senses. Within my own artistic practice I explore the idea of immersive and interactive multidisciplinary art by calling upon a mix of different artistic disciplines. They range from craft and three dimensional design, music and sound, interior and spacial design, graphics and illustration, and photography and film. I am strongly influenced by the German concept of ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ (total work of art) because it supports my multidisciplinary approach and encourages me to put value in the presentation of my work. This takes me back to the idea of branding and how the visual identity of an artist or business is key to success. The window displays of Barcelona’s bohemian galleries, bars and shops are a perfect example this because they are a ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ (total work of art). From the moment you make contact with the window you ‘experience’ the brand and by entering the space you are immersed in the ethos, atmosphere, ideas and dreams of the brand.