On the Edge

DFS leads 2014 International Visual Competition winners with 100,000 pieces of handcrafted origami
Posted July 7, 2014

In-store storewide promotion
DFS Galleria, T Galleria; worldwide
DFS Group Ltd.

Papermaking began in China’s remote Shiqiao Village during the Tang Dynasty more than 1000 years ago. The remote village is one of few remaining centers of traditional paper-making in China, and the source of this year’s VMSD International Visual Competition grand prize.

Traveling to that village allowed DFS Group designers to bond with local craftspeople and immerse themselves in this ancient art. “We learned everything about paper – from the making of it to the dyeing of it to the shaping and molding of it. We studied the art of origami,” says John Gerhardt, svp, branding and creative direction, DFS Group (Hong Kong). “We experimented with folding techniques and designed structures … that could be produced en-masse. We also learned to mimic paper with other materials.”

As part of a seasonal campaign that kicked off in Honolulu, DFS designers spent 8 months creating storefront windows and in-store displays for 14 luxury department stores and two airport stores in cities around the world, including Abu Dhabi; Auckland, New Zealand; Sydney, Australia; and Hong Kong. The company hired 60 paper crafters, who folded 100,000 pieces of origami over 3 months, handcrafting and dyeing the paper used for each piece.

Visitors to the stores are surrounded by the folded decor, and symbols of the Orient. “Asia is our home, so we always want to acknowledge that,” says Gerhardt. “Red is woven throughout our entire campaign and is our brand color.” Because many T Gallerias are in destination cities, travel is referenced with paper airplanes and models, too.

Intricate paper sculptures and origami pieces depict swallows, airplanes, flowers, trees and coral, as well as scenery of key store locations, such as Hawaii, Hong Kong and Singapore.

The visual merchandising that grew out of this partnership is the pinnacle of trends we’ve covered in VMSD – and which, frankly, seemed overplayed before we saw this project. Yet this fair-trade arrangement which honors an ancient art across malls in several continents is as visually striking as it is ethically sound. It’s a celebration of fine art – the true foundation of vm – and the zenith of localization gone global; one tiny village’s handiwork, spread across the globe.

For more first place winners and honorable mentions from VMSD's 2014 International Visual Competition, please check vmsd.com throughout the month of July for parts II-IX.

Please click here to check out Part II.
Please click here to check out Part III.
Please click here
to check out Part IV.
Please click here to check out Part V.
Please click here to check out Part VI.
Please click here to check out Part VII.
Please click here to check out Part VIII.
Please click here to check out Part IX.

For the full article in VMSD's July issue, click here.