Behind The Scenes 04 May 2018

Who styles our stunning showroom displays?

From trade shows to the shopfloor, our Visual Merchandiser, Andrew Durham explains how he styles our stunning showroom.

This week saw an array of new products and accessories arrive in-store and with them our talented VM, Andrew Durham. With 4 floors of our Grade 2 listed building to cover, Andrew always has his work cut out, but it’s a challenge he relishes.

So, on a crisp Spring Wednesday morning, Andrew and his team, Cath and Sara, got to work unwrapping all the lovely new accessories. It’s always great to watch the guys at work to see the products go from bubble wrapped and boxed, to styled displays. Hats off to the team for making it look so easy!

Whilst Cath and Sara worked through the boxes we grabbed a few minutes of Andrew’s time, to find out how he begins to create a set and what we can expect in the coming year. We asked Andrew a few questions. The first of a long list of curiosities, is where does he get his inspiration from? What feeds his creativity? Andrew explained that his inspiration comes from many different experiences. From somewhere as simple as an interesting magazine article to the big furniture shows. Traveling alongside our Director and head buyer, Robert Bianchi, he gets to visit all the major interior and décor shows. They’ve been everywhere from Europe to Asia to find the looks and furniture you see on our showroom floors.

It’s at these shows that Andrew can see how the furniture suppliers visualise their furniture. Shows such as Maison et Objet, go above and beyond to wow their audiences, with displays that sometimes border on abstract art instead of realistic homes. This is where he finds some of his most eye-catching ideas, whether it be animal art or bold colour blocking, the show's influence can be seen in-store and in our recent brochures.

With a store as large and labyrinth-like as ours we can imagine it’s not always easy to style. That’s why we asked Andrew what his process is when putting a display together? He explained that it all begins with the style and size of furniture, he begins by planning the furniture layout on the shopfloor. He then researches what accessories will work well with the furniture’s style and shape, before finally deciding which décor will complement the collection, but not overwhelm it, he then styles it all on the day of installation. He explained that moodboards, either physical or digitally created always work great as a planning tool.

We were curious to know which area of the store was Andrews favourite, but we can’t say we were surprised with his answer. Our grand staircase that goes from the ground floor to the first has always been a focal point and according to our VM it’s the perfect background feature, in his own words it’s “pure theatre”.

Along with our grand staircase, Andrew let us know a few other favourites of his. He chose our Tetrad Saratoga sofa as a great sofa to style and our new Habufa concrete dining table as ranges he’d choose for himself. He also let us know that there were some fantastic Scandi mid-century accessories coming into store that he’s a huge fan of, including lots of soft furnishings, ceramics, glass and faux flowers. It all sounded quiet exciting!

As he unboxed some of the new accessories for us and he showed us the new collection of over scaled canvasses, explaining “We’re using them in our Alexander & James showroom, as they resemble pieces of art in a gallery, they’re great!”. He predicts these will be home favourites and their popularity will carry them through well into next year.

The next collection was an arrangement of clocks, all in different sizes and styles. We asked Andrew how he’d display these, and we discovered he planned to create a clock styled gallery wall. This got us on to the topic of the illusively perfect Gallery Wall that has swept the nation by storm. Any blogger or interior designer these days seems to have a beautifully styled gallery wall somewhere in their home. Andrew gave us a quick tip when it comes to styling anything from a gallery wall to the perfect “shelfie”. “As long as you have the basic principles of display i.e, the right balance of shapes, colours and textures, you should be good to go. Always remember to lay your objects out first, maybe on the floor, before drilling any holes into walls. That way you can move things about without damaging any plaster.”

Moving from the Gallery Wall trend, we asked Andrew what he envisages being the “hot trend” of 2018? His answer in one word “Greenery”, whether it’s botanical or jungle prints, it’s everywhere right now. Talking through his predictions for the rest of this year and into 2019, he stated that colours such as dusky pink, cornflower blue, forest green and rust will be leading the pack when it comes to popular colours, all accompanied of course by the much-loved hues of grey. Alongside these colours he sees lots more Scandi styled furniture and contemporary designs as people’s love of Scandinavian lifestyles increases.

Keep your eyes peeled for all the fantastic and exciting new products coming into store in the coming months, we know we will!