Amid Regent Street’s hustle and bustle, there’s not always much time to stop and take in the lavishly designed displays – but the RIBA Regent Street Windows project is back for its seventh year to give us pause.
For the first time, the project ventures further than just Regent Street, but includes Liberty as well as RIBA’s own Portland Place headquarters, turning the area in and around the shopping street into a public architecture exhibition that will be seen by more than one million people.
Architecture Social Club took a theatrical approach to Liberty’s history and heritage by creating a series of scenes for five of the department store’s windows, casting its founder Arthur Lasenby Liberty as the protagonist in a heroic fashion tale. The installation is a deft and detailed narrative exploit complete with mechanical movement and juxtaposed prints.
Many of these elements are hand-made, which is also true for the Kiehl’s window, a Piercy & Company x Electrolight collaboration. Inspired by the skincare brand’s newest quinoa husk-based range, a manually casted porcelain object depicts this active ingredient in the left window. The right window shows us the manufacturing remnants of the creation process alongside bell jars and Erlenmeyer flasks filled with seeds – alluding to Kiehl’s apothecary philosophy, in which provenance and botanicals are central.
Bureau de Change’s Charles Tyrwhitt window, displaying shirt patterns made of different British timbers, and the fragile Molton Brown installation made of metal roses and packaging bottles also celebrated craftsmanship, which made the Armani Exchange window all the more surprising.
Simply placing a yellow-hued screen behind the mannequins, Matheson Whiteley paid homage to the Southern Californian artists of the Light and Space movement. Considerable in scale yet discreet, it illustrates the fluid and versatile nature of contemporary architecture.