Under the sea

Just as chefs Heston Blumenthal, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay raised awareness of endangered fish species by bringing Channel Four’s The Big Fish Fight to our television screens last year, department store Selfridges is about to embark on a similar task – turning from retailer to campaigner in its first initiative called Project Ocean.

Launching this month, Selfridges will be transformed into an underwater kingdom to inform consumers about the plight of the oceans in an alluring and visually dramatic way.

By Jason Hackenwerth
By Jason Hackenwerth

Linda Hewson, head of creative at Selfridges explains, ‘It is a retail activism campaign to celebrate the beauty of the ocean, informing consumers about over-fishing and protecting the sea.’ She adds, ’It aims to change their mindsets about the fish they buy and eat, by making sustainability fun, creative and aspirational.’

The project is curated by Selfridges creative director, Alanah Weston, and head of conservation at Zoological Society of London Jonathan Baillie. Both are hugely passionate about the oceans and sustainability and decided something major had to happen to make consumer sit up and take notice.

And take notice we will as a mix of light artists, conceptual artists, curators and sculptors transform the store with a range of installations and exhibitions.

Jason Hackenwerth's ballon sculptures
Jason Hackenwerth’s balloon sculptures

Selfridges Oxford Street atrium is to be the hub of the whole building, displaying extraordinary floating jellyfish and sea-urchin sculptures by artist Jason Hackenwerth. The three-dimensional innovator empathises with the subject, describing himself as ‘an activist and environmentalist’. Working with 35 000 biodegradable balloons he has created 11 sculptures that are an example of hyperbolic geometry – which is pertinent as it is the same principle by which most coral and shellfish generate their shells.

Hyperbolic geometry
Hyperbolic geometry

The ocean theme will continue throughout the store, with Selfridges Wonder Room, hosting the ‘Washed up’ exhibition of marine-inspired fashion by designer Judith Clark. Meanwhile, every Thursday evening talks from the likes of Katharine Hammet, David De Rothschild and Charles Clove will take to the stage and guerrilla science workshops are set to explore the ocean in a hands-on creative way.

The campaign, which mixes retail, fashion and food with art, design and interaction, shows how retailers can make new waves in delivering informative and engaging consumer experiences.

Project Ocean from 11 May to 12 June at Selfridges, Oxford Street, London W1

For images of the exhibition see here: https://www.designweek.co.uk/home/blog/making-a-splash/3026378.article

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