When is a catalog not really a catalog? When quintessential Manhattan retailer Takashimaya commissions New York-based Design: m|w to craft a carefully curated, poetic book that, in addition to selling a collection of accessories and gifts, sells an elegant frame of mind. “Although this book is certainly a catalog-in that one of the goals is to sell merchandise-it’s also the primary image/brand building tool for the store,” creative director and designer Allison Williams said.
To shape the high-end shop’s image, Design: m|w used a small collection of lavish production techniques, including a laser die-cut that resulted in a page of paper lace as pleasing to the eye as it is to the touch. In fact, even with your eyes closed, you can feel the quality and heft of the paper and the layers of die-cuts and sense the rhythm of oddly sized pages that appear throughout the catalog- a fact that was not lost on the jurors.
“The production values are incredible,” Sikora said. “The catalog is very sensual, very tactile. It’s as thoughtful and well-considered as anything could ever be.”
Although the pages often ride a fine line between showcasing lovely objects and falling into the J. Peterman-catalog trap of taking oneself too seriously, Giasullo was impressed by the copy and design. “They’ve really brought poetry into products, which is hard to do,” she said.
How is Takashimaya 8 different from previous catalogs for the store? What specifically inspired the design of this catalog?
Allison Williams: Takashimaya is a unique shopping environment, and each year we endeavor to make the catalog an experience to savor. Our aim for Volume 8 was to maintain a sense of discovery throughout the entire piece-to create a journey, a discrete world. Various short sheets and die-cuts create a cinematic continuum, a quiet accretion of insights. The resulting juxtapositions allow for new combinations of textures and products, embodying the retail experience of the store.
What influenced your choice of papers?
The papers were chosen to reflect the myriad textures and neutral tonality for which Takashimaya’s merchandise mix is known. The subtle shifts in sheen, sparkle, translucency and iridescence also contribute to the brochure’s fluidity.
Did Takashimaya give you any parameters for the project or did you have free rein?
This project’s parameters ranged from the clearly defined (budget, time frame, number of photos, caption requirements) to the more subjective (the photos needed to be descriptive enough to sell from yet they needed to make the products look incredible; the text needed to be smart, witty and brief yet replete with descriptive detail; and each year the book needs to be fresh but still embody the same core attributes of the store). But in this instance perhaps the most important parameters of all were the clients’ consistent setting of the bar as high as possible, their respect for the creative process and their demand to always “take it to the next level.”
client/company: Takashimaya New York: Corliss Tyler, executive vice president
consultant design Design: M|W, New York: Allison Williams, creative director, art director, designer; J. Phillips Williams, creative director; Yael Eisele and Mats Hakansson, designers; Laura Silverman, copywriter; Gentl and Hyers, photographers materials/fabrication paper: Popset, Keakolours and Satin from Curious Papers; printing: Lithographix (offset printing, blind debossing, die-cutting and laser die-cutting)
hardware/ software: Apple Power Mac G4 and G4 Cube, QuarkXPress