Shop windows can entice and excite customers. Jigsaw’s windows and special concepts manager Laura Curtis gives us her view from the inside, looking out.
Laura Curtis Jigsaw
Checking my agenda to determine whether I’ll be in smart brogues or Converse for the day is the first thing I do each morning. If I’m not meeting with the creative team or external suppliers at our head office at Kew Gardens in west London, you’ll probably find me up a ladder tweaking window displays in store. For me, it’s important to get a sense of reality about whether the window designs will definitely work and exactly how they should be implemented before entrusting one of our seven field visual merchandisers in central London, Manchester and the West Country to execute the display.
Once I’ve established each collection’s talking points with Alex Kelly, head of marketing, and Matthew Moore, head of brand creative, the research process begins. As our audience responds best to artistic displays – that do not draw attention to the act of buying – rather than commercial ones, this will often involve gallery trips and travel.
We design eight window schemes annually: three per season, one Christmas and one for Sale season, which starts from Boxing Day, and in June. These all vary in terms of time planning: anything from a several months ahead – we’ve just started work on Christmas 2016, for example – to just a few weeks for special concept projects such as collaborative pop-up stores and our twice yearly press days. Once a seasonal window is in place, products – carefully chosen with merchandisers well in advance – are rotated every two weeks to maintain a feeling of newness. Connecting with local communities is important to us, so it’s never just a single corporate rollout. Fortune cookies filled our Manchester store’s window for the Chinese Year of the Monkey, while our Cheltenham shop window has previously featured a racing theme display
The beauty of our stores is that they’re all so different. Our King’s Road store is built into an old chapel with enclosed windows that can be painted and filled very elegantly, while our recently refurbished Argyll Street in London’s West End has a cleaner, more modern shopfront. This variety reflects the ethos of the Jigsaw brand – we don’t want to simply follow trends, but inspire our customers.
Mixing and matching elements of art, graphics, construction and photography is my favourite part of the job. To coincide with the Royal Academy of Arts’ Painting the Modern Garden exhibition (from January 30 to April 20), we created an urban garden in our Argyll Street window, which involved closely collaborating with graffiti artists. It featured a spray-painted park bench (done by the graffiti artists) and foliage growing through wire netting. Last winter, on the other hand, we had 10 unique sculptures created and set in concrete for a coat display in our store on The Strand.
Resourcefulness and thinking on my feet are the primary skills I’ve acquired throughout my career. Wrong measurements and product delays can threaten the success of a display so we’ll have to act quickly to resolve the situation, which may involve couriering products from another store as a temporary measure. Unexpected turns of events can always crop up so it’s essential to remain open-minded and willing to veer from the original plan. A finished window never looks the same as the original mood boards anyway, but that’s one of the highlights of the job: seeing how they turn out.
My other career
I can imagine myself curating exhibitions in an art gallery or involved in theatrical set productions, as I’ve always been very drawn to creating presentations.
2007 Graduated in BA Fashion Design, Liverpool John Moores
2013 - present Windows and Special Concepts Manager, Jigsaw
2012 - 2013 Freelance Fashion and Window Concept Designer
2008 - 2012 Visual Merchandiser, Paul Smith
2007 - 2008 Design Assistant, Sarah Arnett, Brighton