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VM choice: Hackett's grand design

Compulsive viewers of long-running UK TV series Grand Designs will just love Hackett’s current window.

Grand Designs is the programme in which individuals are filmed, over time, designing and building (sometimes without professional assistance) their dream homes. The buildings are usually in a rural location in the UK and usually, have an amazing view.

The spiraling cost of the projects selected ensures dramatic tension, and the personal taste of presenter Kevin McCloud towards contemporary architecture colours the entire series. This does result in a large number of white or timber-clad cubes which, at least initially, sit rather heavily in the landscape, and usually exceed their budget and build-schedule. The cubes are frequently punctuated by vast picture windows which, to a visual merchandiser, invariably prompts the question ‘How will they clean the windows?’

The series has helped make contemporary architecture and its modernist antecedents more acceptable to a fairly conservative rural population than it might otherwise have been, and Hackett’s celebration is a further step in the same direction.

Featuring large angular masses of white-finished wood and rough-hewn planks topped with a swathe of standing grass, behind formally dressed men’s mannequins, this window might be a mood board for many Grand Designs projects.

The window on the other side of the main entrance features a more casually-dressed range of men’s manequins. These are set before an angled tower of polished veneer, set in front of architectural slats and topped with a profusion of greenery with the caption ‘Modern Country’ across the glass in the foreground. The message is a Grand Design for everyone, no matter their lifestyle.

The lovely Regent Street store features two round arch-topped windows. In this one a wooden screen, again contrasting refined and rough textural surfaces, incorporates narrow shelves on which to display accessories. The cut-out shape on the left perhaps alludes to the giant picture window trope that popularly frames a landscape view.

The second arched-window – reminding us of BBC television’s Play School (1964 – 1988) with its round, square, and arched window choices - contains a stack of wooden blocks, some neatly protruding to provide a perch for small leather goods. The blocks are genuine, and installation must have been a lengthy process for these and the other rather large and cumbersome component parts, to be carefully sandwiched between the glass and the back-wall of the window.

Hackett treads a delicate line, employing construction industry elements to contrast with the finely-made merchandise. This is unusual in VM, as often props err on the side of the theatrical and make-believe, rather than the real. Hackett and VM agency Harlequin have nevertheless maintained that light touch which makes good visual merchandising excellent.

The modernist notion of ‘truth to materials’ - meaning component parts should be obviously composed of the materials from which they are made, and not purport to be something which they are not - is beautifully displayed here in terms of architecture and also alluding to and enhancing the quality of Hackett’s F/W collection.

Note the wood-curl filled floor, perfectly adding a further texture to the autumnal palette of the merchandise. I half expect to see television presenter, Kevin McCloud himself here too.