Department store Fortnum & Mason has partnered with six theatre set designers for its latest collection of window displays.
So far, the coronavirus pandemic has wrought havoc on the performing arts: the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre estimated losses for the sector were around £630 million just three months into the crisis. As the country approaches the one-year anniversary of its first COVID case, this number looks to be significantly higher.
Labelled the “Joy Window Takeover”, Fortnum’s initiative aims to support and provide a creative outlet for creatives in Theatreland who are currently out of work as seats remain empty.
“Personal interpretations of joy”
Those involved with the project were each handed creative control over one window on the Piccadilly-based shop front.
This is a rare occurrence, explains a statement from Fortnum’s, since the department store typically creatively controls “every single aspect” of their displays.
The only input the Fortnum’s team was a broad creative brief which asked each designer to explore their “personal interpretations of joy”.
“Joy is at the heart of everything we do, and there’s no question that right now we all need a little more of it in our lives,” says Fortnum & Mason customer experience director Zia Zareem-Slade.
“We hope that by doing what we can to provide a platform to these artists and showcasing their talent and interpretation of joy it underlines the importance of the visual arts to all of our lives and provides a little escapism for those that encounter them.”
From the “dramatic and surreal, to the everyday”
The resulting windows range from “the dramatic and surreal, to the everyday”, according to the store.
Set and costume designer April Dalton, who worked extensively in operas and for dance productions prior to the pandemic, has filled her window with scenes of the natural world. The idea intends to reflect how “the seasons carry on despite whatever problems the world is facing”.
Meanwhile Tahra Zafar’s window depicts the “gentle parts of life” – in this case the moment when a parent puts a child to bed with “love and best wishes for a night’s sleep”. Zafar, who has 25 years’ experience in her field, has a notable back catalogue of live events, including the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic opening and closing ceremonies.
And Alex Berry, whose theatre design work has been exhibited at the National Theatre and Royal College of Art has used her window to celebrate the power of community. It features miniature people working together to paint the word joy.
The remaining three windows have been put together by designers Jon Bausor, Jean Chan and Sam Wilde. They feature the likes of a multi-coloured mirror, circus scenes and silent cinemas.