Lessons from the West Elm LOCAL launch in London

Last month Scarlet Opus were invited to West Elm‘s ‘Meet the Makers’ event at their Tottenham Court Rd store in London. They planned to throw their doors open and present their ever so lovely furniture, textiles and tableware to the Press, as well as allowing local Designers to demonstrate their skills and discuss their work.

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After the popularity of her fab Storytelling Window Displays guest post for us during the Summer, we decided to ask Lisa Le Peurian to pop along to the event and give us the lowdown.  Here Lisa walks & talks us around the event:

Pic1(Maker)

West Elm opened its first store in Manhattan back in 2002 and since then has enjoyed huge success, expanding to 68 stores across the world.  They actively support local Designers, have strong green ethics and are passionate about providing their customers with brilliant style and choice.  Luckily for us Brits, West Elm opened a store in London!”

Pic2(Local)“As I walked into the loft style open-plan showroom I was greeted by a floor-to-ceiling living green wall, which was very inviting compared to the urban jungle I’d left outside on Tottenham Court Rd!  The wall seemed to draw me in and led me down to the lower floor where the greenery continued to creep down to the very bottom basement level.”

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“Here, framed by the greenery of the stairway, was a very stylish Richard Watson Cabinet (created by Brooke Richard & Laura Watson). The rich, dark chocolate-toned wood stood out boldly against the green backdrop, making a very eye catching display point.”

Pic4(Richard)

 Check out their website for more pieces

“Down in the basement, once I’d squeezed through and swished passed the groups of champagne-drinking design fans descending the stairs, I became aware of a buzz of conversation radiating from a bar area.  I made a beeline for it and discovered pretty little cocktails and pots of Quinoa being distributed among the hungry hoards.  The rest of the basement floor was set up with roomset displays that felt intimate and made it really easy to visualise West Elm products in your own home.”

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“On the upper deck The Makers were busy making chairs, rocking horses and tote bags. And a big line of people queued up to screen print their own tote bag with Zeena, who had exposed a West Elm screen especially for the event so that everyone could take home a token of the evening and have a go at screen printing for themselves. It was lots of fun – a brilliant reminder of the evening, and totally worth the ordeal on the crowded tube on the way home, trying desperately not to print the wet design onto other passengers!!  It was the most sociable of The Makers events and broke the ice, making it easier to really get to know the Maker.  Zeena runs workshops for adults & children and she’s got some great events scheduled for November which you can book via eventbrite.”

Pic6-(Zeena)

“Also, tucked away in the surprisingly large store space, I discovered a ‘potter’s workshop’ space – an array of rainbow coloured mugs and bowls made it impossible to ever chose a single colour because all the towers looked so amazing and vibrant against the rest of the shades.  The temptation was to buy everything!”

Pic7-(Bowls)

“The ‘Meet the Makers’ night was a great success and I would definitely recommend a visit to West Elm soon!!”

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Our thanks, once again, to lovely Lisa for another thought-provoking post.  

The lessons for Independent Retailers are:

  • Take the time to develop good relationships with your suppliers.
  • Pass information on to your customers about who makes the products you sell.
  • Invite your suppliers in to your store to demonstrate & discuss their products with your customers.
  • It’s a great time to have a launch night when you get your new season stock in.
  • No matter how small your store is, find space for a mini roomset or create visual merchandising that places related products together insitu so customers can visualise how they will look in their own homes, and which products look good together.
  • Get to know the Designers, Makers and even the other Retailers in your community and initiate collaborative projects, commissions and events… it can be as simply as a free, mutually beneficial method to get props for your visual merchandising OR as big a project as a Design Festival.
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