Tag Archives: Bentalls

Windows to Celebrate The Royal Wedding

Various, London

It has been 30 years since the last royal wedding in England, so it is definitely a unique event. Prince William and Kate Middleton are to marry tomorrow, and here in London it really shows. There is bunting everywhere from streets to front doors of homes and people dressed in blue, red and white.  

The wedding offers a welcome commercial opportunity to shops pushing their home wears, fashions and souvenirs. It is also a celebration of all things British. Most windows featured here will have Union Jack flags in them one way or another.

Liberty of London and the classic Mini.

John Lewis, Oxford Street prepared its customers for the perfect summer party.

Bentalls, Kingston based its windows around typically British themes such as the street party and the summer festival.

Bhs, Oxford Street take this event as a great opportunity to promote their affordable wedding dresses.

A whole lot of bunting at Accesorize.

Monsoon.

TopShop and a Union Jack blouse.

Warehouse (top) and River Island both cater for fashion conscious street parties.

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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.

Bentalls-On-Sea

Bentalls, Kingston, Greater London

With this post I take you to the suburbs of South West London, so you probably haven’t seen these windows even if you live in London. They belong to Bentalls, a department store in Kingston. They can do pretty much their own thing in their windows, because they’re not a big chain, but they are a part of Fenwick. All the windows are bright and summery, just what you need on a grey day like today in London. The theme is nautical and the painted back walls have vinyl repetitions of anchors etc. The slogan is (if you wondered why the title) Bentalls-On-Sea- Wish You Were ‘Ere.

Superdry. I like the shovels, they make this look really playful and fun.

Swimwear by Panache and Esprit. All the windows also have Polaroid looking images of the relevant brands.

All the stock is by Fred Perry.

Stock from Vilebrequin.

The two above both have Joules stock in them.

Great Plains.

Scotch and Soda.