How Window Displays become Story Tellers: London

Lisa Le PeurianHi! I’m Lisa and I’m Guest Blogging for Scarlet Opus. I moved to London in January, where I’ve been inspired by the culture, fashion, design, and fast pace of life, but most of all by the shopping! A trip down Oxford Street is now a daily (very expensive) route to work for me… so come along and have a look at the shopping temptations I face…

Walking down Oxford Street through the hustle & bustle of people – tourists, workers and street performers – with the noise of the buses, traffic and jibber-jabber of voices, there is nowhere to escape, nowhere to hide, nowhere to find peace and quiet other than the silent stillness of a shop window. I’m drawn in by the tranquility of the untouchable beauty juxtaposed against the heavily crowded streets of London.

oxford st

During a days shopping on Oxford street you pass many window displays but at the height of luxury in the West End, no one does it quite as well as Selfridges & Co, with its gilded gold, Art Deco surrounding, and ornate columns beautifully framing the windows below.

selfridgesSelfridges London East Corner by Andrew Meredith

‘Bug’s Diner’ is definitely my favorite window at Selfridges this season, with pastel colours, neon signs, jukebox and bugs!? This strange and fun mix of classic 50s, brought together with large plastic bugs, is very disconcerting in a diner setting but is interesting and eye-catching, and adds an intriguing shock factor. The full swing skirts, matching twin sets and pastel rinse wigs really create a strong retro vibe. The mono colour blocks on the mannequins work well against the checkerboard tile effect background and chrome finishes:


Alongside the diner window is the ‘Meet the Mixologist‘ window.  It’s part of the “Meet the Makers” promotion that Selfridges are hosting this season, enabling you to go along and meet the different personalities behind the making of the products, bars and restaurants that are within Selfridges. There are “live demonstrations, tours and tastings”. The ‘Meet the Mixologist’ window includes diffused pastel backdrops and neon lighting, with rotating ombres of liquor bottles screaming summer city party time:

mix-for-WEBIn complete contrast to these flirty and fun pastel tones and vibrant electric lights is the ‘Meet the Bakers‘ window display. The use of muted tones, bare wood and deep mint green bring a real feeling of comfort and authenticity, with freshly baked bread displayed in the window. Evocative touches are created by the left behind remnants of a customer – an umbrella, newspaper, coat, coffee cup and half eaten roll, reminding us of the simpler things in life:


Meet the Distillery‘ is the story behind the making of gin, which is of course a big part of the summer party scene.  But this window is presented in a stripped back style – a gentlemen’s library, among which the distillery equipment is displayed in the middle along with the home comforts of an armchair, book cases and dog bed (which actually represents Darcy the Labrador’s bed, who belongs to the founders of Cambridge Distillery, Will Lowe and his wife Lucy). It’s a very personal scene that tells a story behind the product you’re buying into, and it’s very comforting and draws you in.

Gin-for-WEBAnother department store that has taken a look at “The Makers” is Harrods.  Their windows are currently dressed to show unfinished garments and accessories, showing the pattern work and construction which tells the story behind how and where the pieces are made:

undressed-for-WEBSome of the ‘Maker’ themed Harrods windows have a big focus on handbags, and there are also handbags that are showcased with graffiti scrawled across them and the mannequins:


This graffiti theme is seen in lower end retail shops such as Topshop too, where splashes of colour decorate the surrounding surfaces of the window display. This look actually reminds me of Holi fest – the festival of colour, which was lots of fun this summer in London, throwing coloured chalk at one another!


Our thanks to Lisa Le Peurian for sharing her store window story finds with us.

If you’re attending TISE East at Miami Beach and you’re interested in learning more about creating store window displays based around storytelling and trend themes, then join Phil & Victoria on their exciting 2 part Workshop on October 20th More details here HERE

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Hot Spot: Manchester: Northern Quarter

Today we’re pleased to welcome guest blogger Chris Balme – who better to show us around Manchester.  He’s lived in and around the city for 17 years and has never shied away from trying its more unusual and adventurous offerings:   

chrisOne of the World’s more eclectic cities, Manchester proudly boasts flagship luxury stores, such as Selfridges, whilst adopting the unofficial slogan: ‘It’s grim up North’. Like many Northern cities in the UK, Manchester has enjoyed a renaissance in terms of architecture as urban bubbles and splashes are being erected in the form of modern studios and apartments to sit alongside beautifully restored and imposing archaic buildings of the past 500 years.  This incredible juxtaposition is exemplified perfectly by England’s trendiest area outside of Camden Town: The Northern Quarter.

Manchester (5)

NQ (as it is lovingly referred to by devotees) is built around a myriad of locally run bars, cafes, restaurants and shops dedicated to slightly off-kilter products, services and a desire to ‘do things the right way.’ Adjective-laden menus adorn the tables and walls of the properties promising culinary combinations only previously thought of by Gordon Ramsey returning to his fully-stocked studio at 2am after a lager-fuelled awards ceremony!

Almost Famous & Luck, Lust, Liquor & Burn

js1600_almost_famousThese 2 sister restaurants in the Northern Quarter both popped up with limited fanfare in the last year but have gone on to build up a fervent and dedicated fanbase and have quickly become ‘must-visit’ locations for people visiting Manchester. With queues stretching out the doors and winding up the streets from about 6.30 every evening, there is a certain sense of exclusivity surround the burgers at Almost Famous and the burritos at Luck, Lust, Liquor & Burn.

The former has recently closed its doors for an undisclosed period of time following a kitchen fire and the chefs have since been selling their burger wares from a small wagon across the centre of the city. Baring in mind that people will wait an hour during a cold February night in Manchester for an Almost Famous burger, the re-opening night will be pandemonium.

I am Pho


Located underground in Manchester’s China Town (underneath one of the city’s most infamous strip clubs!) Vietnamese restaurant I am Pho has unfortunately often been overlooked. This changed somewhat earlier this year when a voucher scheme brought the restaurant to the attention of the city’s hundreds of thousands of young profession dwelling residents. Intrigued by the unique flavours on offer by the good Vietnamese folks, Mancunians approached en masse to try specialities such as the eponymous Pho and Bun Hue.

The interior may be slightly stark but the warm reception and light, delicious food soon makes you forget that you are sat under bright lights and a popular strip joint.


js1600_nawaab_montageIn a city that boasts a stretch of road known as ‘Curry Mile’ it may be surprising to find this amazing Indian restaurant located a few miles away. The instantly impressive Nawaab is based in the Manchester suburb of Levenshulme and packs a Bollywood-esque punch of grandeur and tangible excitement as soon as you walk through the front door. The large entrance is adorned with images of Bollywood movie stars and the ultimate symbol of extravagance – an illuminated indoor fountain. An internal balcony wraps the 1st floor of the foyer and only a central staircase is needed to replicate the majesties of Scarface’s humble home (pre-bloodshed).

Serving as both a traditional restaurant and a wedding venue; Nawaab offers a mystifyingly large selection of different starters, mains, sides, drinks and deserts. The open-style kitchen allows you to witness the large quantities of different curries being produced by the vast team of chefs and the buffet option allows you to try a little (or a lot) of everything!

Special thanks to Chris for today’s post. 

Thanks also to HungryHoss and Lauren at HungryTravelStyle for additional images used in our montages (created by our new Intern – Catherine).

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Visiting Vegas – A Designer’s Perspective

lucyHi, I’m Lucy, currently studying Graphic Design at the University of Huddersfield.

After hearing about all the exciting seminars Scarlet Opus presents each year over in Las Vegas, I was lucky enough to experience the vibrant and colourful city for myself on a recent trip.

So, where to start…

Las Vegas – a city full of atmosphere, colour, dazzling lights and sparkling surroundings is the self-proclaimed ‘Entertainment Capital of the World’.  But what happens in Vegas, doesn’t always stay there – not for a design enthusiast anyway.  I came back with great inspiration taken from the fabulous surroundings!

vegas mood board b

It wasn’t just the gambling, couture shopping or super-sized dining which kept me in awe of the city – it was also the Las Vegas landscape! 4.5 miles of dramatic architecture and distinctive sky-rises make it a breath-taking sight against the desert plains!

vegas landscape a

Some of the world’s most desirable hotels can be found situated on the Las Vegas Strip, all uniquely designed to upstage the next!  My favourite would have to be the Bellagio where you will find the famous signature fountains and the beautiful landscaped Botanical Gardens.  The interior of the hotel reflected 1930s glamour, with bold geometric flourishes found on walls and ceilings, a rich colour choice of creams and golds, as well as Art Deco inspired signage to really make you feel as though you’re part of a 1930s film set!

ballagio 1 a

bellagio 2 aOne of my favourite features of the Bellagio, was the “Fiori di Como” an 18-foot glass sculpture by glass sculptor Dale Chihuly.  The chandelier is made up of 2,000 hand blown glass blossoms.  The clusters of blue, reds and greens really create a fresh and stylized feature for the main entrance of the Bellagio and leads on to the Botanical Gardens.  As my visit was in Springtime the gardens theme was Dutch inspired and painted with tulips and daffodils.  The glass conservatory created a refreshing sense of space and relaxation in contrast to the hustle and bustle of the casinos:

botanical garden and glass ceiling aFor a more modern and stylish visit to Vegas, I found that the Cosmopolitan hotel oozes sophistication and glamour.  With sparkling chandeliers on entrance and around the cocktail bar, and modern-glam décor – the hotel is definitely a gem to the Vegas Strip.  I found great inspiration from this hotels interior design.  The mix between urban and sophistication appealed to me.  Here are a few of my favourite finds:

cosmoThere seems to be something to catch the eye everywhere in Vegas.  I loved the window decoration of the club Aria – montages of old graphic style posters, and the 50ft Butterflies hanging from the ceilings to really create a dramatic space!


Special thanks to our Guest Blogger Lucy Kilcoyne for taking us on a tour of her favourite design features in Las Vegas hotels, and for sharing her photos.

The Scarlet Opus team will be back in Vegas next January, when once again we’ll be curating the Trends Hub, leading Trend Tours on Designer Day and presenting Trend Seminars at SURFACES 2014 (held in Mandalay Bay Convention Center 27th – 30th Jan).  We’ll post more news on our schedule of events for this exhibition soon.

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Hot Spot: Melbourne


Today we are proud, nay, thrilled to welcome Simon Scott as a Guest Blogger.

At only 28, Simon Scott has designed numerous coveted residential and commercial projects across Australia.  Based in Melbourne and Sydney, his work has drawn the interest of creative catalysts and internationally-known Designers, with his work featuring in magazines and newspapers in Australia, the UK and America.  Join Simon as he takes us on a tour of the hottest and most stylish places to eat, drink, shop and be seen in Melbourne:

snap shot of melbourne 3


Melbourne is a fashionable and vibrant international city, and is the hub of the arts, gourmet food, culture and design in Australia. Melbourne has been built on cultural diversity and immigration from all over the world, where an open approach has allowed the culture and talents of these people to be shared with others.  This is a city where you see and feel a distinct European influence, with international flavour and charm, and is also the destination you will find the best coffee outside of Italy.

space furniture storeSpace Furniture 629 Church St, Richmond

This 4-level superstore is Melbourne’s home to many of the world’s leading furniture designers, including B&B Italia, Moooi, Maxalto, Zanotta, Kartell, Vitra, Foscarini. With a prime street position and towering 4 storey high windows displaying designer furniture, it draws attention from every angle. Step inside, and you are surrounded by great design, and design consultants with broad experience in furniture and interior design.  

babyBABY 631-633 Church St, Richmond

Next door to Space, is the new Melbourne hot spot for trendy Italian with great coffee – BABY. Designed by the Melbourne design studio Projects of Imagination, the atmosphere in the evening is electric and alive, with Melbourne style in every corner.  BABY is a great place to meet with friends, or for dinner on the go, as it also has a bustling New York-style diner bar. The designers of the restaurant have influenced all levels, creating the interior design, the iconic logo in red neon and the restaurant’s insignia, as well as streaming Italian language lessons over the speakers in the bathrooms.

tarlo & grahamTarlo & Graham 60 Chapel Street, Windsor

Tarlo & Graham is an eclectic design experience featuring vintage furniture mixed with vibrant artwork, and one off pieces chosen by owners William Tarlo and Phillip Graham. With exotic elements, the shop will captivate and stimulate your imagination. Closer to the city of Melbourne, is the new Tarlo & Graham store in the up-and-coming Gertrude St, Fitzroy, where you are surrounded by great cafes and the art culture of nearby Brunswick Street and the transforming Smith Street, with interesting new concept stores are opening every month.  

David'sDavid’s 4 Cecil Place, Prahran

David’s has been a much loved Melbourne restaurant specialising in the cuisine of rural Shanghai. Recently redesigned by leading Melbourne design studio Hecker Guthrie, the directors Paul Hecker and Hamish Guthrie have beautifully created the atmosphere and passion of old Shanghai in its design. The relaxed and open, yet intimate setting features old timbers, tropical plants, and chairs made from recycled boat timbers. It is a beautiful space to meet for lunch or dinner, and the Asian cuisine is some of the best you’ll find in Australia.  

rooftop barRooftop Bar Level 7/103 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

On Level 7 of ‘The Aylesbury’ awaits a cosy New York-style rooftop bar with beautiful views of Melbourne. Step out of the lift and towards the cocktail bar, with a spirit and wine list as well as food selections from the acclaimed restaurant downstairs, available to order at the bar. This is a great place to visit for those after-dinner late night drinks.

eau de vieEau De Vie 1 Malthouse Lane, Melbourne

This is one of Melbourne’s ‘hidden’ bars with no signage. To discover Eau De Vie, walk over to Malthouse Lane, just off Little Collins Street and walk down the discreet lane. On your right you’ll discover people walking in and out of a single door. Walk inside, and you’ll find a bustling underground style bar, with dark walls, Chesterfield style lounges, and attentive drinks service. There is also a kitchen attached to the bar, with food available.     

AVENEUEAvenue Bookstore 127 Dundas Place, Albert Park

This is my favourite bookstore in Melbourne, in one of my favourite streets. The front window open bookshelf display will draw you into a peaceful oasis of literature. Upstairs is a dedicated architecture, art and photography section with the finest selection of design books in Melbourne. Step onto a timber ladder to reach books that are stacked to roof height, and enjoy turning pages on the Eames chair, located in front of a large window overlooking Albert Park.

crown metropol melbourneCrown Metropol Melbourne 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank

Crown Metropol Melbourne is a trendy hotel, located in the heart of the Crown Casino and entertainment complex in Southbank. Featuring modern rooms and suites with spectacular views of Melbourne’s skyline, you are footsteps from some of Melbourne’s best restaurants and shopping boutiques. After relaxing in the rooftop indoor pool, you may choose to dine at one of Melbourne’s finest restaurants located in the Crown complex, such as Nobu Matsuhisa’s ‘Nobu’, Neil Perry’s ‘Rockpool’ or the French restaurant ‘Bistro Guillaume’. 

simon scottOur thanks to Simon Scott for writing such a great post and giving us a wonderful insight into Melbourne’s hot spots.

You can learn more about Simon and his stunning design work on his website here.

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Deb Bowness – Local:Heroine by Becs Gardner

BGI’m not a cool cat. Never have been. If I like something (or someone for that matter) I find it really hard to not be a total geek about it and wear my heart on my sleeve. This trait showed itself in all its glory when I made a certain discovery only last week.

No doubt you will be familiar with Deborah Bowness’ “Genuine fake bookshelf” wall coverings (if not, you can see the full range of products on her website here). It’s been in myriad interiors magazines, graced the walls of high-profile Designer Abigail Ahern’s London home, and has been imitated numerous times over. It (amongst the rest of Deb’s collection) is one of my most favourite and aspirational interior products. So, I hear you ask, what was my discovery? Just this: all Deb’s wallpapers are handmade in a small factory workshop just 8 miles from my home. My design heroine, Deb, is now officially a Local Treasure too. Gasp.


Original Genuine Fake Bookshelf

Naturally, being a blogger and design enthusiast I couldn’t just leave it there. I had to see if they were open to visitors. You can imagine my excitement when I got the all clear to pay a visit and write it up. Deep breaths. Here it is:


Bowness & Bowness’ workshop is tucked away down a quiet country lane just outside of York. Housed in an unassuming tin warehouse, the only thing letting me know I was heading in the right direction was a bunch of silk screens propped against the outside wall, and one of Deb’s “Utility Lamps” hung just inside the door. No sign, no fanfare. This is business.


Utility Lamp | Kim’s Lamp

I was greeted by Leigh. Leigh is the “other” Bowness; Deb’s sister. With a background in PR & Marketing, Leigh is just the balance the business needs to get the product “out there” and put meals on the table: “Deb would happily create all day long, but she knows we all need to earn a living” says Leigh. For seven years Deb ran the show on her own; designing, producing, marketing (exhibiting, travelling, accounting… sounds exhausting to me). Five years ago Leigh came on board and moved the production back to Yorkshire where the sisters grew up. “We’ve grown the business totally organically, never taking more people on board than we could afford, and never borrowing any money.” As I toured the workshop (read: snooped about) it became clear that this model has worked for them – evidenced by the number of samples and rolls about to head out the door to eager clients.


booksBut more than that; this place is littered with personal touches. Second hand furniture picked up along the years, a series of canvasses produced for a friend’s wedding adorns the walls; the obligatory staff shed (every creative studio needs a shed). This place could only ever have grown organically, out of a passion and love for design. It’s about as far from corporate as you could get; it’s a real cottage industry, a craft.


personalAs I got the low down on the production process, I realised these papers are more like mini works of art than your standard wall covering. It all became very clear why they don’t come at your standard high street price; each trompe l’oeil design is personally photographed by Deborah, then digitally printed in monochrome tones. After that, blocks of colour are added through screen printing, and the final touches are painstakingly added by hand with watercolours.


Wallpaper collections

Even the equipment used throughout the process right down to the lightbox used to expose the silk screens has been purpose-built in situ. “We used to have certain parts of the process done externally”, says Leigh “then realised that we could get a better result bringing it in-house. We get to experiment more without worrying too much about the cost, and of course, we get to control the whole process more closely. Deb is a stickler for quality and detail!” I’m becoming more and more of a fan with every step.

With all the personal touches along the way, this is not something that is easily copied. Put it this way; you can spot an imitation a mile off. But what does it feel like to have your work ripped-off? “It is frustrating, but it’s not something that we can control. On the other hand, if nobody was copying it, that kinda sends a few signals. At least we know we’re doing something right!” Touché.


Shop the Deborah Bowness collection here

Even with Leigh’s input in the business, it can’t be easy balancing the creative side with selling the stuff. I wondered, had they ever been tempted to go down the high street route and get their products sold by a big brand? “Well”, says Leigh “I can’t say too much right now. We know that we have a vast following of people who really love the product, but who aren’t buying it because of the price.” [*ahem, that’s me she’s talking about.] “Let’s just say that we’re keen to make something more accessible and affordable. There are a few irons in the fire.” This is music to my ears. All I can say now is “watch this space”.

Huge thanks to Becs for today’s inspiring posting.  Do check out her fabulous interiors blog for real women, An English Girl’s Home, and follow her on Twiiter @becsgardner   

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