Country Road has revealed its vision of the future in design, partnering for the 9th year with RMIT’s Visual Merchandising graduates to transform its Melbourne Central windows.
The 10 week project, led by Country Road’s creative manager Heilam Choy, commenced with a client briefing, and mentorship throughout the process from concept development, to production and installation; involving feedback from the client and supplier liaison.
The project is reflective of Country Road’s investment in the next creative generation and an incredible opportunity for exposure for these students; with an invaluable endorsement from this iconic Australian brand.
Read below a Q&A with two of the team leaders who were involved in the project.
How did you respond to the initial brief from the Country Road VM team?
The CR team briefed us using words like ‘Luxe Winter Getaway’ and for us we had ideas around the country weekend escape, and then our ideas went towards country side and dry herbs hanging from the ceiling. At the same time we were also thinking about a strong architecture influenced design – then the two, nature and architecture, merged together. The idea then progressed into a more modern setting that felt right for Country Road with the use of fresh herbs.
Was this the first time working on a real brief for a brand?
Yes, for all of us. There’s a lot more pressure working on a real brief! That’s the good thing about the RMIT course, they have so many connections with industry and it prepares you for the realities of the career outside of University life.
The course seems very practical and hands on, do you relish that side of it?
That’s exactly what I like about the VM course; it really is very hands on and quick moving. You have an idea, then you prototype it and the final design is only temporary. You could spend hours and hours on a sketch, but you have to keep the processes rolling and this experience has really taught us the invaluable lessons with time management and creative control, you need to stick to your ideas and just keep moving.
How did you discover the course?
For me personally, before I fell into studying VM, I didn’t really know that it existed, I hadn’t thought about it before. I think it’s a perfect mix of an office job and hands on creative, artistic career. I don’t think a lot of people realise that there are amazing careers in this – that there are people out there being very creative, making stores look beautiful and their window displays are like art installations. I think with online shopping becoming bigger and bigger, the role of visual window design is more important these days than ever before, we have to be able to stop people in their tracks as they walk by.
Was that sensory experience of the herbs one of the main factors in your brief response?
Yes, we thought that was an important element to the brief because you know when you enter a CR store, there is a distinct smell which is intrinsic to the brand. And although green walls have been done so much we thought incorporating fresh herbs was an interesting way of reinventing that. What’s interesting is that what we’ve created won’t stay the same over time – the colours and smells will change, things will drop a little bit. It’s a natural thing. And that process of them transforming from fresh to dry over the 3 weeks will be curious to watch as well. It will go from a rich fresh green, to a softer more muted shade.”
It will be quite a process to hang them all over that big space?
Yes! But we’ve planned and coordinated each step. We’ve created big bunches wired together on hooks so they can be installed quite quickly on the day. We had to work out how best to hang them so we want them to overlap to create maximum impact. We’ve been referencing wall hanging tapestries which are about a lot at the moment – so we wanted the green wall to be undulating and have lots of texture
Did you always want to study VM?
I actually didn’t discover this course until I was at university doing another course and now I can’t stop looking in store windows! It’s that whole experience of being in store, you walk in and you smell the store and you know where you are. It’s all about the experience and the brand and you enjoy walking in there. As a career it is so creative and hands on, you get to make things physically, it’s not all conceptual.
D + P