December 20, 2017 by Kirsten Nelson

Before there were video displays in the gambit of merchandise storytelling, there were windows. And during the winter holidays, those windows were as dense with analog spectacle as possible, creating just the right mystical blend of nostalgia and optimism for the year ahead.

barneys_madison_window_4Today if you really do store windows right, you still produce that scenic blend, with just the right supporting role from video technology. Take, for example, the fantastically vibrant window storyscapes presented this year by Barneys and the Haas Brothers. There, across four windows illustrating one rainbow zebra’s quest to endure and triumph in a new world of celebratory cheer, is some finely-honed stagecraft by Christie 360 Experiential Studios

Boosted by Christie Velvet Merit LED displays driven by Pandoras Box servers, the Barneys “Haas for the Holidays” window displays hit all the right notes with passerby-stopping, crowd-drawing appeal. But more, they tick the box on that increasingly more elusive concept of “new.” New requires careful collaborative calibration from those zeitgeist-harnessing creatures known as creatives. And there’s more of that happening throughout our industry. 

“There are many examples throughout world of retailers who have done great installations and are impressive in the way they use technology as a supporting element, but Barneys is right up there in the way they show the market about how important it is to have a strong creative vision,” said Denys Lavigne, Vice President, Global for Christie 360. “They’ve integrated very complex digital media, and fundamentally they’re ahead because they have a stronger creative approach. It’s part of the DNA of their brand to go beyond merchandising and explore more creative ways of differentiating the Barneys shopping experience.”

Video technology helps there, too. To extend its brand and the “Haas for the Holidays” elements throughout the New York store and more locations nationally, Barneys is rolling out several interactive in-store experiences that use additional Christie hardware in the form of 86-inch LCD displays.

Having collaborated with Christie on holiday windows for the past several years, Barneys is finding new ways to use that video savvy year-round, most recently its “B Lab” project and “The Drop” event. “They’ve put together some of the most innovative shopping experiences in retail that I’ve seen,” Lavigne noted, describing the high-impact immersive experiences they’ve developed with interactive sensors and various interactive pieces built throughout the stores. 

But it’s not just about adding gadgets to stores, he elaborated: “It’s about putting together ingredients that reflect the core of the brand, and add value, and become an important element of the shopping experience in the space.”

Seeing the success of these unique creative experiences and what they deliver for the store, Lavigne said, “it’s becoming more a part of their strategy.” And with strategy comes the need to think in KPIs. “We realize that in today’s world, technology is one thing, but it’s also about how you use it, and how you link it with certain business, brand, or revenue objectives.”

We all know that revenue objectives are a big part of Q4 holiday sales pressure. But now that things are getting more creative, we can indeed see a bit of optimism about the new year when we look as these dazzling displays. 

“This is a great time to be in our industry, because it seems like over the past five years, the barriers in terms of what is acceptable or possible in certain spaces versus others have completely come down,” Lavigne observed. “You used to see the most creative uses of technology and immersive experiences only in museums, now it’s in a retail environment or in corporate installations. It’s just a fun time, because you can start a project by really exploring beyond the traditional, and clients are looking for that. They’re looking to differentiate themselves with something that will add real value for their brand. In our industry right now, it’s about the art of the possible in a particular space, and what we can really consider and implement to go beyond what’s expected.” 

There you have it. The real reason we return to holiday windows year after year, looking for something that we remember and more that we hope will be ahead.

About Kirsten Nelson

Kirsten Nelson has written about audio, video and experience design in all its permutations for more than 20 years. As a writer and content developer for AVIXA, Kirsten connects stories, people and technology through a variety of media. She also directs program content for the TIDE Conference and Technology Innovation Stage at InfoComm. For three years, she also created conversations around emerging media and experiential design at InfoComm's Center Stage. Prior to that, Kirsten was the editor of SCN magazine for 17 years.