Visual Fireworks - how wallpapers are taking shop windows by storm

Visual Fireworks - how wallpapers are taking shop windows by storm

Stripes, flowers and retro designs - if you go shopping on any high-street today, you will notice an increasing number of wallpapers in shop windows. What has been a trend in interior decoration for a while is now taking over the posh department stores and luxury boutiques. Eye-catching and extravagant patterned wallpapers achieve a huge impact - with very little effort or cost. And in this day and (digital) age, where we are bombarded with hundreds of adverts every day, this impact cannot be overestimated. That is why the trend in terms of window displays is increasingly moving towards more elaborate and opulent designs. The motto seems to be: "More is more!"

The display cabinets of the luxury labels are not filled with products any longer - instead you will see individual pieces lovingly presented in an artistic and creative manner. The window display becomes a stage for art and a backdrop for stories. And these stories do not just provoke rapt attention, they also manage to immerse customers into the lifestyle a label aims to present, and to touch them on an emotional level.


Etro - London, Source: Mavis

A coherent look created by the choice of lavish wallpaper - as seen at Etro in London this spring - is certain to create some furore. A striking green design with black leaves pattern adorned not only the walls, but the floor and ceiling, too. A veritable visual firework display for the beholder, who finds himself (or herself!) whisked away to a tropical rainforest - this statement will doubtlessly draw attention from passers-by and inspire them to discover the range of products in the shop.


Gucci - New York, Source: Mavis

The fabulous Gucci store in New York is another fine example for this trend. The latest collection with its beautiful flowery patterns on a dark background is presented in front of a wallpaper showing the same (but super-sized) design. The large-scale flowery wallpaper covers the wall and floor and even enters the third dimension! Huge plastic flowers seem to spring from the wallpaper and into the room. The mannequins appear to be merging with the background, taking the beholder on a surreal journey into the world of fashion.


Diane von Furstenberg - New York, Source: Mavis

The magnification or repetition of patterns can provide real visual statements. Be it floral dresses in front of a floral wallpaper or a pinstriped suit in front of a stripy wallpaper: there is no better way to emphasise a sartorial theme.


Matsuya - Tokyo, Source: Mavis

First a floral design, then polka dots, then perhaps stripes - window dressing will always be in tune with the changing collections and has to be reinvented with each new season. And this is exactly where wallpaper comes into its own, as changing the backdrop can completely alter the look with very little effort. Due to a close to limitless variety of patterns and motives, wallpapers are the ideal protagonist for a dramatic staging in any shop window.


Louis Vuitton - London, Source: Mavis

But wallpaper can also be very experimental, as the exuberant collage of accessories and luxe cosmetics in the Louis Vuitton window shows - or nostalgic and romantic, like the 70s wall décor at Dolce&Gabbana. Wallpaper has the power to trigger memories. When looking at the retro design, one is immediately taken back to one's grandparents living room, or reminded of scenes from well-known movies of the era. Wallpaper is a means of communication, and the ideal medium to reach customers on an emotional level and invoke the desire to find out more.


Dolce & Gabbana - Milano, Source: Mavis

"We are moving back to patterns"

An interview with self-employed window dresser Peter Rank, who is based in Munich and works for exclusive fashion houses and renowned clients like Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg, Tiffany & Co. and Cada.

Mr. Rank, what are the current trends for shop window displays?

I don't think that there is an actual single trend as such. For a while, large photographs dominated shop windows, but thankfully that theme seems to be on the way out. At the moment, we see more and more patterns, which is why wallpapers are enjoying a renaissance. Unfortunately, it is rare that someone thinks outside the box and comes up with something more humorous and pithy, partly because it will of course have cost implications. But I do hope that there will be a return to individual decoration, as right now the window displays of every big brand on every high-street look the same. It really takes the fun out of shopping in different cities if you don't see anything different anywhere.


Prada - New York, Source: Mavis

Do you use wallpapers for your designs, and if so, do you have a favourite?

I have frequently used wallpapers. The great advantage is that it enables me to create a mix of patterns. Also, it is a fast process, because I don't have to draw or paint the motives myself. I generally use the wallpapers of three or four companies, e.g. the Fornasetti cloud design, which customers seem to love. I've also used a design featuring stacks of books, as it provides a lively background and I can integrate elements of it into the overall concept. And there was a tie pattern, graphical patterns always lend themselves perfectly to fashion.


Do you also have wallpapers in your own home?

Not in my own home, but certainly in my showroom. A stripy number with velvet and linen detail - I've applied the paper horizontally, to quite striking effect. For interior decoration projects, I often use wallpaper and textiles which complement each other.


Fenwick - London, Source: Mavis

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