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Web Exclusive: Flower Power

Douglas, a leading supplier of beauty products, collaborates with Studio Mary Lennox for a series of floral window displays

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Photography: Courtesy of Douglas

FOUNDED IN 1821 BY Scottish immigrant John Sharp Douglas as a soap manufacturer in Hamburg, Germany, Douglas is now one of Europe’s leading premium beauty platforms. Currently based in Düsseldorf, Germany’s epicenter of beauty and lifestyle, the company boasts an impressive portfolio of high-end stores in 24 countries across Europe.

As Douglas prepared for the coming year, the retailer wanted to elevate its window design concepts for 2022. The goal was to install a level of beauty and art in its stores that had never been seen before. Toward that end, Douglas teamed up with Berlin-based Studio Mary Lennox, a creative firm founded by Ruby Barber specializing in flower styling, botanical design and botanical consultancy.

The collaboration resulted in a series of show windows based on the notion that beauty and nature are a perfect marriage; nature has an effortless way to remind and reinforce the diversity and impact of beauty. With concepts delicately referencing what’s happening in the world of beauty at the present moment, each Douglas/Mary Lennox window was designed around Douglas’ monthly calendar as well as the changing seasons. One new window will be unveiled each month throughout 2022.

“We have been following and admiring the work of Studio Mary Lennox for years,” says Julian Eßler, Team Lead regional VM/Marketing & Luxury at Douglas. “At Douglas we’re committed to making life more beautiful for our customers. Every flower has its own unique quality and beauty in the same way that every person has their own unique quality and beauty. The combination of flowers and beauty interpreted by the artistic hand of Mary Lennox is a perfect match for our luxury stores and a perfect reflection of our brand image.”

Douglas contacted Studio Mary Lennox in early 2021 to present a framework for a collaboration. This led to a joint concept developed during an intensive year of brainstorming where the two teams discussed each physical storefront in detail and approached challenges that were new to all involved.

The artists at Studio Mary Lennox create and speak in the language of flowers. “We believe flowers are the most evocative form of communication. Our mission is to facilitate a connection between the brands we represent and their audience through the beauty of nature,” says Barber.  “Douglas has a contemporary take on beauty and that’s why this collaboration was such a nice fit. The world of beauty products and perfume is very deeply connected to materials derived from natural origins.”

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Storytelling is an integral component of visual presentation, and flowers are vehicles of communication: “They are like a handwritten letter to each person with their own personal emotions and feelings. They provoke an experience with nature that people can relate to,” explains Barber.

As the project unfolded over the course of a year, the in-house Douglas team worked hand-in-hand with the Studio Mary Lennox team to achieve the best possible results. “We discussed the designs down to the last detail, with the aim of developing design solutions that we were all 100 percent enthusiastic about,” says Eßler. “Together we have created a common vision that we are all very proud of.”


Video Courtesy of Douglas

The time of year and the color of the surrounding environment was an important consideration when selecting flowers and materials for each design. For the first theme, in the first month of the new year, the designers wanted to work with white flowers, the thought being that there is something very pure and optimistic about January and white flowers. As the year progresses and the seasons change, the colors in the concepts will become richer to follow the emotional cycle of the yearly human experience.

Movement, form and texture were also important elements of each concept. The teams wanted to create a setting that was rich and minimal at the same time. Through a curated mix of textures and shapes, they designed the ideal space for the products to be incorporated and highlighted.

Currently Douglas and Mary Lennox are creating individual designs for 19 stores with a rotational schedule, each its own unique work of art, effectively turning the windows into ephemeral exhibitions.

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Creating floral window installations in a bespoke and site-specific manner for a high-end retailer is challenging when the main construction material is organic. No two flowers are the same, and Studio Mary Lennox will process hundreds of thousands of flowers during the year simultaneously across 19 locations.

Both Eßler and Barber believe that window design and floral design are art forms. “We aspire to live and embody our window design as art,” says Eßler. “We create something never seen before, something unexpected that captivates the viewer and triggers certain emotions.”

Barber also speaks about emotion. “Using materials in a new context in order to create messaging and convey emotion is a big part of what art is all about. Floral design clearly does this,” she says.

The collaboration of Douglas and Studio Mary Lennox demonstrates the power of art to build and produce new elements, shapes and materials, that will visually embody and communicate an idea and evoke an emotional response. Eßler believes that mixing art and merchandise elevates the customer experience, and with this philosophy, Douglas creates new worlds of experience for its shoppers.

PHOTO GALLERY (17 IMAGES)
📷:  Courtesy of Douglas

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