Design Museum talk // Louboutin exhibition

After having visited the wonderful Louboutin exhibition at The Design Museum and absolutely loving it, I was very excited to see that one of it’s designers Simon Stacey, Creative Director of Household, was doing a talk about the inspiration and approach behind designing the hottest fashion exhibition of the year. We arrived to find reserved front row seats, which made us feel very important, but also meant that my geeky note taking was on full view… Very embarrassing!

Having designed the most popular Design Museum exhibition ever that had “proved most interesting, creative and engaging”, it turns out that Household (a London-based international retail and leisure design consultancy) had never tried their hands at exhibition design before. As designers of the Louboutin retail boutiques they were the obvious choice when the retrospective came about; a real collaboration between Christian Louboutin, the Design Museum and Household. The look and feel, as in the retail design, was very important with the exhibition exuding glamour, sex, playfulness, magic, theatre and Christian’s ethos of “every woman wants to be a show girl” through stunning rich, opulent materials, and ornate finishes and details. This was to be a ‘show’ and not an ‘exhibition’ so their first thoughts were not only the logistics of how to group the collections, but how to capture inspiration and how to engage the viewers; a truly immersive experience. The obvious starting point for inspiration was the red sole and the shape of the shoes and the rest went from there.

The fairground/circus vernacular developed with shoes being displayed on merry-go-rounds with moving seats, spinning tops and a shadow theatre. The latter proving to be extremely important as Christian is very concerned with the silhouettes of his shoes. As retail designers they try to push to display merchandise in new and unusual ways and this was no different in their exhibition design where they celebrated and lifted the shoes as ‘exhibits’, displaying each collection in a different way using the fairground elements. The journey of the viewer was also extremely important, right through to the end, where they didn’t want the last bit to be “so what”, wanting a final punch on the way out.

The show stopper was, as with the exhibition, was the Dita Von Tease hologram. Simon told us how after being wowed by the Tupac hologram, they designed the whole show around the hologram stage without realising quite how expensive it was. They knew it was really important to show the relationship between Christian and Dita, but they really did not know if they could afford it. Luckily for us it all panned out and the wonderful spectacle was realised in all it’s glory.

It was extremely interesting to see how the clever people at Household work and finding out about their relationship with Christian Louboutin, his expectations and his understanding of the design process. I thoroughly enjoyed Simon’s talk and had to sneak one last nose around the exhibition before we went home… well to the bar… then home.


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