Archive for the ‘Window Displays’ Category

An Extraordinary Window into the World of Kerry Lemon

May 29, 2012

In celebration of Her Majesty the Queen’s 2012 Diamond Jubilee, we commissioned charming illustrator and artist Kerry Lemon to create a quintessentially British installation with a twist for our store windows.

We invited her in to share her inspirations and tell us how she will be celebrating the Jubilee this weekend. During the interview, her simple, direct turn of phrase and humble, quirky humour belied the exquisite intricacy of detail in her drawings, illustrating why she was the perfect partner for our royal tribute.

Kerry’s easy, open manner brimmed with all the irreverent dynamism that shines through in the fresh, bold lines of her work. Sitting down she smiled, settled into her chair and cupped her hands around a mug of tea.

Having initially drawn inspiration from The Wallace Collection, and the graphics and colours of London photography volume This Is London, we commissioned Kerry for her inimitable style and ability to capture the essence of all things British; from churches and cathedrals to seaside scenes and flowers. Her drawings of roses in particular brought an added element of fantasy to the concept.

 Using the staged photography style of high society and royal court photographer Cecil Beaton as a key reference, we devised a ‘pinhole theatre’ concept, and thought this was the perfect fit for collaboration with Kerry.

Kerry: “I think the creative brief and my own illustration style met so naturally, the colour scheme of soft pink and sepia tones was lovely. I thought the vintage-inspired blend of sepias and pinks was really pretty.”


Q: What was it about Smythson that made you want to work with us?

 “It was definitely the craftsmanship that attracted me to Smythson, the exquisite attention to detail in the design and play with texture of your products. As soon as I read the proposal, I thought ‘This is amazing, I have to do this!’  It’s such a cool project, because it enables me to use my drawings on a massive scale which is so exciting. I also unashamedly love the Royals, so the fact that I was able to draw crowns and Buckingham Palace is just dreamy!

“It was a really fun project to work on, everyone knew exactly what they wanted and it was a very clear brief – they’d done mood boards, which I love! And then I could go off and play with my ideas.”

Kerry’s illustrations for our windows

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself

“I’m an illustrator and an artist, most of my work is editorial – I draw pictures for magazines, book covers and album sleeves. I originally studied Fine Art, which involved lots of installations in large spaces. I used to find a space I liked which could be the corner of a room or a ceiling, out of which I would create something sculptural.” Kerry beamed and flung her arms wide to illustrate her point, “I’m 4”10, so I like working on a big scale!

“My background in installation art has been really helpful, because I’m not intimidated by scale and it makes me think quite differently to other illustrators. After finishing my degree, I received a Queen Elizabeth’s Scholarship, QEST, to which artists and craftspeople can apply to further their studies. I was given a grant and I then went on to study illustration at Cambridge. I then set up my illustration business, with a three year business plan like proper geek!”

Q: How did you start working on window installations?

“My first commission came about when I was approached by Electrum Gallery on South Molton Street, who asked me to hand-paint their window. I said no initially because I thought “Oh crikey, no way, that sounds too scary”, but I was eventually persuaded and I loved it. I loved the interplay with people when they came past to see how I was getting on, it opened up the process in a really refreshing way and I thought ‘I want more of this!’. I’m inspired by the notion of taking something as simple as a sketch and launching it into extraordinary new dimensions by recreating it on a huge, interactive scale.”


Q: You’ve worked for institutions such as The Times, Liberty and The National Trust. What do you think it is about your drawings that appeal to British brands like us?

“My illustrations are relatively traditional, but also a bit quirky! They’re clearly hand-drawn rather than computer-based, so there’s a real craftsmanship involved which I think resonates with a brand like Smythson. I draw everything by hand, I love drawing – I’m obsessed with it!”

Q: Where do you draw your inspiration from?

“I try and take Fridays out of the studio to go and draw. I love to draw in museums, the British Museum is amazing and the V&A is great to draw in.  In every collection, there’ll be something that really inspires me, for example I recently went to see Howard Hodgkin’s collection of Indian Paintings at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, and I cannot stop thinking about the colours. There was a really beautiful hot pink and a mint shade which I loved, and the compositions and level of endless detail was amazing, you could even borrow magnifying glasses!

“I try and go on drawing trips every year, this time I’m going to the Orkneys and Iceland, last year I went to Wales and Finland.  All I want to do is draw! I come back with sketch books full of colour. Finland was really green – it’s amazing, and the colours of the houses were a particular kind of rusty red that I would never normally use.”

Q: What would be your dream commission? If you could draw absolutely anything, what would it be?

“Drawing Buckingham Palace was one, so thank you Smythson! I love to work with architecture, nature and animals. When left to my own devices, I could draw anything.  At the minute, I’m obsessed with flowers and using a lot of gold and copper leaf and gloss paint.

“I get commissions to draw all sorts – typewriters one week, shoes the next – that’s why having my personal sketch books and scrapbooks to flick through matters so much, it means I can play with composition and themes for inspiration and ideas.”

Q: Tell us about where you work.

“My studio is at home in Virginia Water in Surrey and it’s really peaceful, there are birds, it’s green, it’s lovely.

“There are banners hanging from the ceiling and the walls are covered in quite crackers stuff! For example, today I went to do some brass rubbings in the crypt of St Martin’s- in- the- Fields that’ll go up in the studio. I drew a crazy knight in different colours – I liked the pattern of his chainmail, I’m really attracted to patterns.”

Q: And finally, how will you be celebrating the Jubilee?

“If I could celebrate in any way, I think a giant house party with girlfriends would be my choice, as I’m such a fan of dressing up! We’d make our own crowns and tiaras with lots of red, white and blue fabric and safety pins for ridiculously festive, patriotic gowns. There would also be gallons of tea, cakes, scones and pink lemonade!”

Images of Kerry Lemon: © Clare Kelly:



Fashion Week Windows…

February 16, 2012

London Fashion Week begins tomorrow and we’ve installed our latest windows to celebrate, featuring every editor’s essential, our Runway Notes book alongside spring/summer ’12 Cooper and Emily handbags.

Our Visual Merchandiser, Marco,  shares the inspiration behind the display:

The theme of our new windows is “timeless elegance with a modern twist” expressed through the classic architectural structure of columns painted matt white to give a modern, artistic feel. Certain columns are tilted, bringing a kinetic surrealism to the display.

Light plays a very important role in this scheme, diffusing a soft and delicate mood. Spot lights are aimed on to the product in order to give a theatrical feel to the ensemble, especially at night-time.

Valentine’s Windows: Amour Sans Fin – with love, from 1910

February 3, 2012

Featuring our new Valentine’s collection inspired by a motto charm discovered in our 1910 archive, our latest windows resemble pretty gift boxes with the perfect gift for your loved one inside…

Latest windows: The Year of the Dragon

January 24, 2012

We’re celebrating the Year of the Dragon this week with a new window display reflecting two new correspondence card motifs designed especially for Chinese New Year.

How will you be celebrating? Check out our guest blogger, Susie Lau’s recipe for a traditional Chinese New Year treat

New Christmas Windows: An Enchanted Forest…

November 30, 2011

Our magical new Christmas windows have just been installed!  Visual merchandiser, Marco, explains the inspiration behind them:

“The set is made with tarnished mirror panels, real birch tree trunks and bulb lights, and features birds, owls, moss and snow to bring that dreamy, enchanted forest feel alive.

“The concept was inspired by the fantasy lands of films such as The Neverending Story and The Chronicles of Narnia, with the idea that by walking through a magic mirror, you reach an enchanted forest where Smythson products wait to be picked up – and given as gifts.

“The light reflecting on the mirror panels creates a beautiful atmosphere, most of all at night-time, and the trees give an organic, warm feel. The garlands framing the windows reinforce the forest concept and at the same time create a cosy Christmas mood.”

What do you think of our new “Enchanted Forest” windows?

The Peacock Room: Our latest window inspiration

October 7, 2011

Our latest window display features new autumn/winter Lapis and Peridot collections against a backdrop of bespoke, hand-painted wallpaper created in collaboration with de Gournay.

Visual Merchandiser Marco gives us an insight into the concept behind the display:

“The inspiration for this scheme was drawn from the product itself, with the rich colours recalling the art deco era and the idea of universal beauty and aestheticism.

Created for us by de Gournay, featuring intricately hand-painted gold peacocks, the ornate, Chinoiserie-style wallpaper reflects the jewel-like opulence of our new collections (as well as our beautiful new season stationery motifs) and was inspired by the Peacock Room, an early art-nouveau “hidden pearl”, created by American, British-based artist James Whistler for the Kensington House of his patron, Frederick Leyland in 1887.

The Peacock Room is considered to be an art-deco masterpiece and one of the first examples of Anglo-Oriental art.  A celebrated attraction, it has been acquired by many galleries and museums over the years and is now installed at the The Arthur M. Sackler and Freer Gallery of Art: the National Museums of Asian Art, in Washington DC.  Find out more at

de Gournay produces the finest, hand-painted wallpaper and traditionally specialises in 18th century Chinoiserie and nineteenth century French designs.

Step into the future with our latest windows…

August 24, 2011

What do you think of our latest windows?

Marco Cavallini, our visual merchandiser, shares the inspiration behind them…

The concept of these windows was to play with geometry, light and design in order to give a modern and futuristic feel to complement our technology accessories.

On the back panels I’ve recreated the iconic 3D cube pattern with white fluorescent lights; the tubes and wires are exposed in order to give that raw and mechanical feel and at the same time decorate and define the geometry of the pattern. The beige background helps to soften the coldness of the lights and give a more rich and luxurious feel.

The product sits in white glossy cubes and some are standing on a tripod to give a robotic and more dynamic feel to them.

The inspiration comes from the work of talented artists such as Dan Flavin, one of the first sculptors to explore the use of neon lights, and Bjorn Dahlem, currently exhibiting at the Saatchi Gallery,  who make stunning sculptures out of fluorescent light tubes,  re-inventing space and matter in order to send the viewer out to space, feeling the perfection and fragility it is endowed with.

Another source of inspiration is the iconic film “2001: A Space Odyssey” by Kubrick, with its futuristic design, spacecrafts and robots…

New Noir Nancy Windows…

July 18, 2011

Do you like our latest windows showcasing the new Nancy Hobo handbag? Our Visual Merchandiser, Marco, explains the inspiration behind the display:

“The concept is a surreal shadows vs reality clash, given by the black vinyls on, the real branches coming out of them and the 2D lamp posts with a real light bulb at the top. The inspiration comes from the London urban architecture with cinematic references to Hitchcock, Tim Burton and Mary Poppins that give a ‘noir’, magical feel.”

Wedding Windows…

April 21, 2011

In celebration of the Royal Wedding, we have just installed special “wedding” themed windows in our stores.

In our New Bond Street flagship, to celebrate the opening of our “Royal Memorabilia” exhibition, we are displaying the five artists’ work in-store and in our windows, with the titles of each work displayed “raining” down like golden confetti…

 In our Sloane Street, Westbourne Grove and Royal Exchange windows, we are  celebrating our signature bespoke wedding stationery and hand-lined tissue envelopes with a patriotic mix of white, red and blue items on white illuminated cake tier podiums…

Our new Jade windows: flamingo flights of fancy…

March 25, 2011

We’ve just installed our latest windows, as pictured in our New Bond Street, Sloane Street and Westbourne Grove stores: a vibrant display featuring spring/summer Jade and our classic White Nancy collection, accompanied by a flock of beautiful bright flamingos! (Also a new motif in out latest ready-to-write stationery range).

Marco Cavallini, our new Visual Merchandiser, gave us his take on the inspiration behind the new display:

“Flamingos are unique birds, full of beautiful contrasts, unnatural by nature; they are pretty but flexible to the point of oddity, elegant in their edginess, flamboyant, yet still pure. That to me is the perfect personification of Jade, it’s a very peculiar colour: solid and delicate, bold yet still reserved, confident in its humbleness.
Together they clash and complete each other in this sea of pleasant contradictions, bringing to life the spirit of spring with their endless shades of chromatic purity as to celebrate the infinite beauty of life.”

We think they look beautiful and perfectly timed with this week’s sunny spell – summer is definitely on the way!