I love magic, and I guess someone has to create it. The secret to Fenwick Newcastle's flagship store is worker elves at German company ONE WORLD STUDIO. I can't even start to think how one would begin to create something. It's all so technical, but then dreamily creative as well. So...how? I managed to get a hold of Carl Hackett, head of design at ONE WORLD STUDIO to help me understand.
How did it all start? I know it's a family business from southern Germany, but it still doesn't explain why you're so good.
Originally based in the south of Germany, the new company has been based in Berlin for the last three years. Actually the original company started in Berlin. It started with Annelis Mordelt in 1933 making dolls in Berlin. So after 65 years of the Mordelt family crafting many successful businesses and magical experiences within the entertainment and leisure industries, the family have returned to their roots and re-established the family business back in Berlin with a new corporate image, an innovative design technique and a much stronger perspective of what is required within the industry.
What does your company do? And I am going to have to ask you to explain what it means in layman's terms.
Our company, ONE WORLD STUDIO is a specialist in attraction and park design for the amusement and leisure park industry. We create new ideas and concepts for various resorts throughout the world. We offer a bespoke design and turnkey project management service.
I guess that includes windows displays? I didn't equate amusement parks with windows displays, yet I guess it's all really the same?
Yes. We create new and exciting worlds and experiences all under the umbrella of one company – ONE WORLD! The four colours of our logo represent the four departments of our company: Design, Model, Manage, Produce.
Do you come up with the theme or does the client?
With regard to the themes of the window, we do come up with the themes but our clients like to have a very hands-on approach with suggestions and ideas. For example with Fenwick this year, six different concepts were submitted and it was a rather long process before the final concept was chosen and perfected.
How long does it take from start to finish?
From concept development through to presentation, final production and sign off, it takes around 12 months. This year we did face a few challenges and therefore production was tight. The main body of work was started in August. But usually we begin full production in April/May.
Is Fenwick the only window display you do in the UK?
It is the only window display we create in the UK. We do also supply many themed displays and animated figures throughout the world, particularly in the Middle East where Christmas (seasonal) decorations are ironically a big thing.
The Mordelt family has partnered with Fenwick for almost 30 years working on the windows. I do believe it is now the only one of its kind in the UK that actually offers a display aimed at children and families (apart from Hamleys). So many displays these days push towards a more fashion/product placement approach and while I think this is great and equally very creative, I think it's nice to see the true values of Christmas still being catered for in the North East of England. Fenwick will not incorporate or use product placement of any items on sale in their store in the Christmas tableaux. I think this is something to be truly commended. The Fenwick windows on Northumberland Street have almost become an institution in Newcastle. Families have traditionally taken their children, grandchildren and now great grandchildren to see the windows. Generations of families have now adopted the tradition, which I think is lovely.
What do you feel when you see the children's faces light up when they see your finished work? Actually, I assume adults enjoy as well...
It's funny really. You work on the displays for so long that you become immune to them and in those last few frantic days of installation you almost become tired of the sight of them. That is until you see the response of the general public. I can honestly say there is always a little tear when the final result is revealed (that is if I'm pleased with the design, if the tear doesn't come then there is something wrong or to be improved on).
Another thing I love is when the adults get the story or character completely wrong and the children correct them! For example the other day a father mistook the seven dwarfs for Santa's elves! His daughter was not impressed and kindly corrected his mistake. This to me is priceless.
Ha, ha! I love that too! I think it's about time fashion shows got this treatment too. I know that the Marc Jacobs finale show had plenty of electronics, but I would love to see giant Barbies interacting with models down the catwalk...in fact, hang on Carl, maybe that might be an idea...?!