So a couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to join the wonderful Lucy Gough styling the Argos / Habitat / Sainsburys / Dwell Christmas press show with Jade Lovejoy and Laurel Chick. It was a crazy couple of days in the exhibition space of Somerset House, decorating Christmas trees & wrapping up fake presents during a mini heat-wave!
We were working with Argos styling their new kitchenware, toys, and pets toys. Unfortunately we didn’t have our products styled until the last day which was crazy busy, so I don’t have any photos!! (Rookie error, I know.) I had a few minutes spare at lunchtime on day 1 where I got a few snaps from the interiors teams who’d set up before us so at least you can enjoy those!
This is the first press show I’d worked on, so there were new lessons learned…
Styling for people is different to styling for editorial
When you’re styling stills shoots, it’s all for the camera. You’re looking at everything from the perspective of the photographer, and one or two specific angles. A press shoot is different as people are going to be wondering around the installations looking from different angles. You have to think about how everything looks from 360 degrees. It’s also more important to think about the atmosphere of the space; we created a room with space for guests to sit & work with nicely styled tables & goody bags, and added a photobooth full of props to encourage engagement & social sharing (there were some amazing Barbie wigs, photo evidence to follow…).
Prop styling isn’t always pretty!
There was A LOT of product for the amount of space we had, and it was mostly children’s toys and kitchenware. The styling budget for the event was pretty small too, so after we’d bought rises and Christmas decorations, it was pretty much spent. While it wasn’t the most glamourous of tasks, it meant that we had to get really creative about how we were using the space and showcasing the products. I was helping Jade (absolute babe) with the kitchenware styling and she was teaching me lots of little visual merchandising tricks, like styling things in triangles to guide the eye. It might not have been the most beautiful of styling tasks but it was a really good challenge!
Press shows are BIG affairs
Putting together a press shoot is a pretty big task! We had all the exhibition space on the south side of Somerset House, so there were about 40 people there including us getting everything set up. I tried my best to get to know everyone (especially the movers as it’s good to have them on side when you need to attach something to the ceiling or shift a 25 kilo box up the stairs!).
Working with different creative visions can be challenging
The stylists, project managers, event organisers, and buyers all have opinions about how the event space and products should look. And they don’t always agree! (Luckily I wasn’t the one negotiating!) For example, from a styling point of view, it’s best to pair back the amount of products on display so everything has room to breathe. But the brand’s buyers wanted all of the colourways on show; this tripled the amount of products on the table. It’s these kinds of conflicts that have to be worked around and talked through until everyone’s satisfied.
Organisation is even more important than usual
For this show, all the products had to be sent back to the warehouse. We had to keep every box so that all the items could be repackaged. Every. Single. Box. For hundreds of products. This would have literally be impossible if our organisation hadn’t been sh*t hot. We stored all the packaging according to category and labelled to make it do-able.
Being well organised is also vital in the running of the set up, especially for stylists. We should be the last team to finish our work. (You really want to avoid that styling a load of products only to find that the wall vinyls haven’t been put up yet and you have to move everything…)