Coutts Christmas Windows 3

Hello! from a nest of wrapping paper and carols I thought I'd just do the final quick blogpost on my new illustrated windows for Coutts. You can see the 26x12 meter GIANT installation at 440 Strand opposite Charing Cross station until the (fast approaching) end of 2014.

I just wanted to share a little bit of the design process as I always find it really interesting when other illustrators do the same! The initial brief from Coutts was wonderfully open, they were interested in a 'Nutcracker Ballet' theme - but this could be approached in any way. So I began by watching the Royal Ballet's Nutcracker on DVD, visiting the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, exploring the dolls houses and dolls at the V&A Museum of Childhood, jewellery boxes with spinning ballerinas and Pollocks Toy Museum in Scala Street exploring toy theatres and paper dolls. I then returned to Coutts with three possible directions for the project...

1. Toy theatre
A giant set inspired by Victorian toy theatres, the theatre surround and curtains was to be vinyl with all the theatre set and ballerinas to be internal flats (similar to the layered window set I created for the Queen Royal Jubilee for Smythson see here)

2. Ballerina
A giant ballerina with a heavily embellished dress featuring all the characters from the Nutcracker in the skirt design in vinyl. The bottom of her skirt forms arches to display a range of the characters  in 3D underneath on spinning motors so they would twirl and dance.

3. Dolls house
A dolls house featuring characters from the Nutcracker in each window, I also suggested that this could also be done as an advent calendar...
...I'm sure you've guessed now that the lovely team at Coutts chose the dolls house, they were very interested in the advent calendar idea and so I went away again and worked up this idea further to come up with this design...

Initially we were all excited about a shuttered house which could reveal a new Nutcracker character each night, but the complexity of requiring a crane for so many evenings in a row prevented this. I wanted to transform the very modern glass building into an old fashioned, grand dolls house, and chose to go with a pretty, ballet colour scheme rather than a red/ green/ gold overtly Christmas colouring.

Coutts were really happy with the house design (they really were fantastic to work with!) and so I worked this up with characters in each windows and mixed up the numbers so the viewers would have to hunt for that days window.

I then sent them the final plan for sign off, got the go ahead, and spent the next month drawing all the characters, windows, building and my nemesis, the holly and ivy down each side of the building which was a labour of love!

I selected the (clever and lovely) team at CColour to print, install and remove the installation. I knew they would deliver fantastic work as I'd previously worked with them on my Harvey Nichols windows in London (see here). They also supplied and installed the most beautiful twinkly lights which are scattered across the holly and ivy and the two Christmas trees.

You can see photos of the finished installation here and here, I am SO VERY PROUD of this project and grateful to the team at Coutts (especially Cat) and the lovely people at CColour x

Next week I'll be back with my 2014 round up looking back over my favourite projects from the last year, until then have a wonderful Christmas, eat and drink far too much, cuddle all friends, pets and family extra tight and I'll see you on the other side chubby and happy x

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