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VM Choice: Rimowa's Chinese New Year windows

Luggage brand Rimowa has been making lovely, considered VM displays for its Asian stores for a while now.

For Chinese New Year (CNY), the branch store in Hong Kong is no exception, and three carefully thought-out pieces of foam-board and two suitcases fill the window well.

Treating foam-board as a theatre designer would treat a set gives a stylised graphic of Beijing’s Temple of Heaven (which in reality has a blue roof, here transformed to CNY’s classic red), with a couple of cloud-like hedgerows in the foreground to suggest a trip for two Rimowa-toting travellers. A pink-on-white wavy-cloud backdrop completes the window.

The stylised male and female images in the foreground pull a gold-finished cabin luggage case and carry a beauty case respectively, both from Rimowa’s lovely, premium Topas titanium range. Selecting the gold item from the Rimowa product range is a nicely thought-out touch, as red, orange, and gold are all synonymous with Chinese New Year. This also adds a second colour to the window, which could otherwise look a little flat with its monochromatic colour palette.

The only thing that jars slightly with these beguiling figures is the way they are dressed. Although CNY varies from mid January to mid February in much the same way that Easter moves in the West, in Hong Kong it is unfailingly at the coldest time of the year. Bare ankles and rolled-up shirt-sleeves are not even to be considered in Hong Kong’s arctic concrete office and mall spaces, which have no heating. Although many apartments have reverse cycle air-conditioning in the sitting room, that still leaves cold bathrooms and bedrooms. CNY in Hong Kong is the season of wool sweaters, down jackets, and eating hot-pots, although it lies within the Tropic of Cancer. It is also the most expensive time to take a vacation.

Most interestingly of all, skeins of firecrackers litter the white floor of the window. While it is perfectly possible to purchase firecrackers in Macau and much of China, they are banned in Hong Kong and in many Chinese cities for security reasons and a because of a poor safety history.

Calming horizontal lines in the background of the window are punctuated by two vertical figures and the temple in the mid-ground. The vertical graphic on the glass in the foreground creates a pleasing, eye-catching complexity.

The graphic on the glass is significant. This year will be the year of the sheep or the goat, depending which version of Chinese astrology is preferred. The goat, in this case, is confined to the Chinese paper-cut styled foil on the glass, making this a flexible CNY idea that could be reused with just a change of window foil.

Animals in the Chinese calendar have different attributes to those the West ascribes to them. Those born under the sign of the goat are thought to be indecisive but creative aesthetes. The format of the red graphic, with reversed-out characters, also resembles the paper decorations hung on the front door of every Chinese home, which announces a wish for good fortune in the coming year. As everyone says in Hong Kong at CNY: ‘Gong Hei Faat Choi,’ wishing you health, wealth, and happiness.

Thanks to Alvin Yeung of YMK Design for his images.