CHINA, CHINA, CHINA

Origami roosters celebrating Year of a Rooster 2017

Everybody talks about China. How much do I know about China? What are the first associations I have with the country?

It is a big piece of land with an old history and a massive world population. They love their food and they live to work. The country had its cultural revolution under the leadership of Mao Zedong where the traditional art, craft and literature had to be destroyed to create a new, equal society. So far, for years anything that was ‘Made in China’ meant poor quality and mass production. It’s kind of still the case … Today everyone wants to trade with China, some even see the country as an economic and military threat.

I really wasn’t sure will I have enough to write about before I started my research on Chinese design. How wrong was I! Seems, I have found material for a string of posts.

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Ai WeiWei is Chinese most famous, provocative, contemporary, multidisciplinary artist and an activist. The guy is a living legend, went through a lot of hardship dealing with Chinese authorities. His work reflects on social issues with an emphasis on violations of human rights. He has a great compassion to most vulnerable people.

Ai WeiWei during an exhibition in Le Bon Marche, Paris
Ai WeiWei during an exhibition in Le Bon Marche, Paris

 

Le Bon Marche department store in Paris, featured in January 2016, Ai WeiWei exhibition called ‘Child’s Play’ a creation of mythological creatures using an old technique that involves stretching silk or paper over bamboo frames. The exhibition was inspired by Chinese antiquity legends and fairy tales, written by Shan Hai Jing.

Sadly, the artist could not read the stories as a child as it was totally forbidden at the time in China. During Mao Zedong ruling the intellectual property had to be destroyed with an idea of creating a different society. Society cut off from the past, roots, traditions, arts and crafts.

‘CHILD’S PLAY’ EXHIBITION

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‘LAUNDROMAT’ EXHIBITION

The exhibition features refugees clothes and shoes collected on the shore of Greece. Clothes are presented in a desirable way,  placed in a trendy store created by Ai WeiWie. Wall is covered with images of refugees gathered from social media.

Ai Weiwei: Laundromat at Deitch Projects

Ai Weiwei: Laundromat at Deitch Projects

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Author: Walkowska Aleksndra

All images and videos used in this post are linked to the original source. Click to find out more.

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THE ARCHITECTURE OF DUBLIN

Dublin-architecture

LOOK UP AT THE ARCHITECTURE OF DUBLIN

Only recently I started to pay more attention to the Dublin’s architecture and the facades of the buildings even though I have been living here for many years now. It is hard to keep the head up when walking through Dublin’s streets as they are very active and busy most of the time. When in town we all have to pay more attention to what’s in front of us rather than what’s above us.

Heads up when in Dublin!

 

 

Author: Walkowska Aleksndra

HISTORY AND THE EVOLUTION OF VISUAL MERCHANDISING

EVOLUTION OF VISUAL MERCHANDISING THROUGH THE HISTORY OF EUROPE AND AMERICA

  • THE FIRST AWARENESS OF SOPHISTICATED MARKETING TECHNIQUES, 1780
  • VICTORIAN STORE
  • Kansas, 1872
    Kansas, 1872
  • Soho, London, 1883
    Soho, London, 1883
  • LE BON MARCHE, PARIS, 1838
    LE BON MARCHE, PARIS, 1838
    THE ARRIVAL OF DEPARTMENT STORES
  • TECHNOLOGY ALLOWS DEPARTMENT STORES TO USE PLATE GLASS WINDOWS, MACY'S, NY, 1862
  • Paris, 1912
    Paris, 1912
    EUGENE ATGET DOCUMENTS PARISIAN WINDOWS LATER INSPIRATION FOR SURREALIST ARTISTS
  • Paris, 1912
    Paris, 1912
  • The customer is always right
    The customer is always right
    HARRY GORDON SELFRIDGE BRINGS RADICAL CHANGES TO THE MARKETING TECHNIQUES IN THE STORES, 1890
  • High Street, England, 1895
    High Street, England, 1895
  • Selfridges Store, 1909
    Selfridges Store, 1909
    REVOLUTIONARY METHODS OF DISPLAY AND MARKETING
  • Selfridge Store, London, 1909
    Selfridge Store, London, 1909
    SELFRIDGE MARKETING METHODS ARE SPREAD ACROSS EUROPE
  • Pierre Imans, 1920's
    Pierre Imans, 1920's
    LEADING MANNEQUINS MANUFACTURE
  • 1920's wedding dresses display
    1920's wedding dresses display
  • Berlin, 1925
    Berlin, 1925
    WERTHEIM DEPARTMENT STORE
  • WASHINGTON D.C. 1928
    WASHINGTON D.C. 1928
    WINDOW DISPLAY FOR ATWATER KENT RADIOS
  • MODERNISM MOVEMENT ARRIVED IN AMERICA, SAKS STORE, NY, 1929
    MODERNISM MOVEMENT ARRIVED IN AMERICA, SAKS STORE, NY, 1929
  • HOLLYWOOD GLAMOUR INFLUENCED WINDOW DISPLAY,  1920-1930's
    HOLLYWOOD GLAMOUR INFLUENCED WINDOW DISPLAY, 1920-1930's
  • 1930's
    1930's
    ELECTRICITY ALLOWED TO LIGHT UP WINDOWS AT NIGHT TIME
  • BONWIT TELLER COMMISSIONED SALVADOR DALI TO PRODUCE SERIES OF WINDOW DISPLAY, 1936
  • SALVADOR DALI WINDOW DESIGN, BONWIT TELLER, 1936
  • Berlin, Germany, 1933
    Berlin, Germany, 1933
    WWII - EUROPE IN CHAOS
  • 1950's Desirable Life Style
    1950's Desirable Life Style
    FUTURE HOMEMAKERS, STYLE EQUALS FUNCTION
  • New York, 1950's
    New York, 1950's
    AMERICAN INDUSTRIAL DESIGN CREATES MASS CONSUMPTION
  • ANDY WARHOL BRINGS FRESH IDEAS TO WINDOW DISPLAY, BONWIT TELLER, NY, 1961
  • ARTIST JASPER JOHN'S WORKS AS WINDOW DRESSER, BONWIT TELLER, NY
  • NEW CONCEPT - LIVE MODELS IN WINDOW DISPLAYS, 1970's
  • Biba Store, London, 1973
    Biba Store, London, 1973
  • 1980's Funk
    1980's Funk
    POSTMODERNISM, WINDOW DISPLAYS INFLUENCED BY ELECTRONICS
  • Late 1980's
    Late 1980's
  • Hermes, 1993
    Hermes, 1993
  • Hermes, 1995
    Hermes, 1995
  • Hermes, 1996
    Hermes, 1996
  • Hermes, 2002
    Hermes, 2002
  • Hermes, 2002
    Hermes, 2002
  • Hermes, 2002
    Hermes, 2002
  • Joseph Fashion
    Joseph Fashion
  • Aishti Christmas window
  • Ivy Moda
    Ivy Moda

Images linked to the original source click to find out more

The most creative period in the history of Visual Merchandising seems to be the early 20th century until the 1960’s in America, in Europe until the 1940’s. WWII created so much chaos there was no room for creative ideas.

The time when the skill of window design was at its lowest creative point happened between 1970’s-1990’s which is odd considering it was a very creative period in music, fashion and cinematography.

Technology had an impact from the early stages, at first, it was plate glass window then electricity, then air conditioning. Today internet stimulates the shopping experience and it is the greatest competition for the traditional form of retail. Early 2000 is the start of e.commerce. The competition forced many retailers to be very creative – again!

***

In my opinion, high street retail stores have not changed much since Mr Selfridge revolution. There has been nothing new added to make the experience more pleasurable or even adventures. Stores look the same, not even across the street but across the globe. No personality just globalised pure business in the same dated uniform.

Perfumery section at Selfridges, 1909
The jewellery sections of Selfridges, 1909
The jewellery sections of Selfridges, 1909

Even though I write about Visual Merchandising I personally do not really like traditional shopping (except Flea Markets) I find it a tiring and stressful experience. My reasons: some stores are just too big, there is too much to choose from (yes, that can be a problem), I do not like noise in general so I do not enjoy the loud music played. I have to walk up the stairs (when there is no escalator or lift) but I’m already walking through the streets from one store to another, so please do not make me walk even more. I’m tired I want to rest on a nice soft couch that is not here!

Well, I am big time e.commerce because I can shop online in the middle of the night in my pyjamas, I can drink a coffee while browsing, I do not have to rush to make a decision, I do not have to queue or move around disoriented shoppers. I can read the customer review or search through categories all that while listening to my favourite music.

It will be interesting to see how the traditional retailers and e.commerce will evolve in the future. Both still have plenty to work on as online shopping is very practical it does lack the creative side. There is no big window display where a potential customer could go… ‘Ah Cool’!

Joseph Fashion Christmas window in collaboration with Harlequin-Design 

     

Author: Walkowska Aleksndra

Additional note:
While doing my research I have noticed how much better the images were archived up till the 1960’s. Most of the images from that period have a date and place provided. Between 1960’s up till 2000 was hard to find well-archived images. It does get better after 2000 … A lesson learned – I will try to organise my images better too.

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TEXTIFOOD THE FUTURE OF TEXTILES

stinging nettle

THE TEXTIFOOD EXHIBITION

The exhibition originated from the project Futurotextiles and was dedicated to innovative fabrics. It is a French contribution to the Expo Milan 2015 a global event which was themed Feed the Planet, Energy for Life.

Textifood exhibition offers the opportunity to discover the world of textiles and its future with its incredible diversity, sustainability, and potentials. Orange, lemon, pineapple, banana, coconut, nettle, coffee, rice, soy, corn, beet, flax, lotus, algae, mushrooms, wines, beers, shellfish … all at the service of fashion!

      

Could it mean that in the future there will be no synthetic fabrics? such as polyester, acrylic, nylon, acetate, spandex, lastex all massively sold by high street stores. The sources of toxins which affect our health and the health of the planet – all produced with chemicals. I do hope we keep making general progress by taking care of ourselves and nature.

Bananas have already been used in Japan in 13th-century to make a fabric similar to cotton. In 2014 banana silk fibre came to the general public with a dress made entirely of dried banana leaves creation of Ditta Sandico.

banana leaf
banana leaf

Nettle has been used by the Germans to produced their uniforms during The WWII as the textile trade at the time was mainly run in England. Nettle is one of the most sustainable material as it does not need fertilizer and it needs very little amount of water.

nettle
nettle
nettle fibre
nettle slippers

Citrus fibre is the first fibre made of citrus fruit, silky in appearance and biodegradable.

citruses
citruses
orange fiber
citrus fibre

Fermented alcohol. There is also a new fabric created from the fermentation of alcoholic beverages. The fabric is red for the red wine, translucent to white and amber colour for beer.

beer
Beer
beer-dress
fermented beer-dress

Coffee is used by S.Café® company which does not only recycles coffee grounds for fabric but also extracts a high concentration of essential coffee oil which is re-used in textiles and also can be used in cosmetics. The brand claims that one day there will be no waste made out of coffee.

coffee dress
coffee dress at Textifood in Milano

STRAWBERRY LACE

strawberry lace
strawberry lace

Fashion designers have been experimenting with other organic sources to produce clothing.  Suzanne Lee was inspired to design from bacteria which grows on Kombucha a healthy drink, a mixture of bacteria and yeast, originated in China in 220 BC. In 90s Kombucha started to sold commercially in Europe and the US. I do remember buying it in Dunnes Stores and Tesco here in Ireland, but unfortunately, due to low demands, the product did not last more than a few years on the shelves.

biocouture clothing
bio culture clothing designed by Suzanne Lee

 

Author: Walkowska Aleksndra

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ALTERNATIVE CHRISTMAS TREE DECORATIONS

pine cones chain

Few weeks before Christmas this year I have been checking Christmas markets here in Dublin. What I believe is one of the nicest activity before the festive period and then shortly after the sale period. Yes, sale – I know exactly where to buy porcelain candle holder.

Of course one of the nicest parts of this time of the year is the preparation for Christmas. We all would love to see snowflakes falling down slowly out the window while our Christmas tree blinks with lights and decorations.

Then later on one of the saddest moment of the post-Christmas time is the image of what it used to be a beautiful Christmas tree, now is just a half dry bits of wood thrown out at the front garden waiting to be collected – hopefully with the organic waste. Even though the trees are planted especially for the purpose I use to think it is really unfair on our planet. Some sellers sell the trees planted in pots, the tree stays fresh and when done with Christmas we can plant it into our garden. My friend back in Poland does it every year, she has a personal miniature forest in her garden now. They could also be planted into the wild, what nature gave should receive back.

Christmas tree waste
Disposable and sad Christmas tree waste

But there is nothing worst then a very toxic plastic Christmas tree. The toxins disable me to speak when I had to unwrap and fold good few of them. So, my guess would be it ain’t good for asthmatics.

There is plenty of alternative Christmas tree decorations to explore, handmade natural gifts of nature.  They last a lifetime and when their life is over they will not do any damage to any living creature. Why not focus on those?

Driftwood Wall Hanger in Wicklow, Ireland.
Driftwood Decs
Driftwood Christmas tree
Driftwood Decs

Driftwood Decs sells beautiful Christmas trees made from driftwood in Wicklow town and in Dublin flea markets where I met the maker and designer Tom – to find out more click on the link which will bring you to Tom’s Facebook page.

Eco friendly Christmas tree
Eco friendly Christmas tree
Toilet paper roll reindeer
Toilet paper roll reindeer
Ladder as a christmas tree
Ladder as a christmas tree
willow branches wreath
willow branches wreath
felt christmas decoration
felt christmas decoration
popcorn cranberry chain
popcorn cranberry chain
pine cones chain
pine cones chain
old paper decoration
old paper decoration
old paper christmas tree
old paper christmas tree

LET’S TRY NOT TO ADD MORE WASTE DURING THIS CHRISTMAS

Ocean waste
Ocean waste

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Author: Walkowska Aleksndra

CHRISTMAS WINDOWS, DUBLIN 2016

Author: Aleksandra Walkowska

DUBLIN WINDOWS 2016

Early Sunday morning is the best time to take a stroll on Grafton Street and appreciate window displays on one of the busiest shopping streets in Dublin city.

December this year as many others years previously is very mild, our garments are just a little bit warmer than those in the very early spring. It is well noticeable in the Christmas window displays where mannequins are styled quite light too.

Christmas window display on Grafton Street, Dublin 2016

The Christmas theme is displayed in the windows but not so much of the winter itself except maybe Brown Thomas. The theme of their windows this year is based on an old-school Christmas card, all kept very kept to the roots of festive tradition. When I saw it first my first connection was made to Russian fairy tales …

Brown Thomas Christmas window
Brown Thomas Christmas window display 2016
Brown Thomas window display
Brown Thomas Christmas window display 2016
Brown Thomas window display
Brown Thomas Christmas window display 2016
Brown Thomas window display
Brown Thomas Christmas window display 2016
Brown Thomas window display
Brown Thomas Christmas window display 2016

M&S is boosting with red colour and plenty of good quality looking gifts stock around female mannequin the position of her arms suggest she expects to receive even more presents.

M&S Christmas window display
M&S Christmas window display, Dublin 2016

Personally, my favourite once is Massimo Dutti windows.  The suggestion that those are Chrismas windows is very settled. The props are very minimalistic, well composed, all products are well exposed and visible to the public. It is the warm light coming from the suspended lamps that suggest it is the time of the year when we want to keep warm when we want to party when we want to be stylish despite long and dark winter’s evenings.

A few minutes away from Grafton Street – Dunnes Stores on Dame Street has as always perfectly styled windows. Same as in Massimo Dutti all the merchandising products are visible even though the windows are quite busy or busier than normally – the products look very tempting to buy, to have, to own. The construction of the display is very harmonious. All three windows are kept in the same colour scheme what creates a perfect balance. To me, windows in this particular store are always more of an art installation. Perfecto!

Dunnes Stores Georges street
Dunnes Stores Georges street Christmas display, Dublin 2016
Dunnes Stores Georges street
Dunnes Stores Georges street Christmas display, Dublin 2016
Dunnes Stores Georges street
Dunnes Stores Georges street Christmas display, Dublin 2016

 

More Christmas windows 2016 on Grafton St, Dublin

Nespresso

Christmas window
Dunnes Stores Christmas window on Grafton Street, 2016
Topman Christmas window
Topman Christmas window on Grafton Street, 2016
tommy hilfiger Dublin window display
Tommy Hilfiger Christmas window display, 2016 Dublin

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