The Art of Window, Display, & Design
by Chito Vijandre and Ricky Toledo
Richly complemented with over 500 beautiful images of window displays, objets d’art, travel sights, and artistic landmarks from around the world, The Art of Window, Display, and Design showcases the creative display of merchandise that can also quickly segue into its own art form transcending the banality of everyday objects to achieve an artistic visual narrative that is more transcendent and durable for all time.
This newest addition to Vibal Foundation’s Fifty Shades of Philippine Art catalogues not only the famous windows of the authors’ lifestyle and home furnishings stores, but also their interiors and fashion productions. The book features ten essays featuring a myriad of art styles and design elements from across the globe and provides tips and principles of visual merchandising, interior design, and fashion.
Among the highlights of the book are a trip to Kenya inspired by the Hollywood film Out of Africa and the legendary tale of Isaak Dinesen, leading to a detailed study of Anglo-African safari style; an in-depth look at the concept of mono no aware (fleetingness of life) and Japanese art and style as filtered through the geisha culture of Kyoto; a peek into the world of fantasy and imaginative recreation as seen through the mad king Ludwig of Bavaria; the distillation of classical aesthetics through the prism of Giacomo Puccini’s opera Tosca and an intimate tour of the Eternal City; a behind-the-scenes examination of the authors’ private abode that is a veritable showcase of cross-cultural influences; and a summation of the cultural kaleidoscope of multi-cultural elements behind the duo’s wildly successful benefit fashion shows for the Philippine National Red Cross.
Window display as an art form
Some of the world’s signature streets in New York, London, Paris, Tokyo, and Milan are not only known for their street tableaux, but also for their specialist boutiques drawing attention and appreciation from the public’s eyes with witty, quirky, and even relevant window statements.
It was in the 1950s when Robert J. Leudenfrost announced that in the US, “window display is fast becoming recognized as a new art form.” From museum exhibits, high art took over the high street with young artists extending their canvas to the enormous amounts of glass windows being installed in retail centers. Some of the world-renowned artists of the twentieth century displayed their unique art styles and visions in retail store displays, including the surrealist Salvador Dali and the pop artist Andy Warhol.
Similar to fine artists, window display designers need to engage potential customers with visual messages and creations that speak of their world and beyond. Each window display necessitates the perfect blend and expressive use of color, lighting, space, props, fabrics, mannequins, technology, cultural references, and ingenuity.
“To know how to do a faux, one must know the real,” thus declared foremost surface designer and finisher, Joanne Day, as she laid small slabs of marble on the table, heeding us to note the layers on the cross-section and observe the fractal composition on the surface. Attention to details, working the imagination to translate the stone into a paint medium, familiarity with materials and images, and knowing how to work all these out to produce the desired effect are what she demanded of us.
In any design or art form, references are the solid ground on which creativity stands, though it is not to say this condones derivativeness, which, if not prefaced and analyzed properly, results in a cheap copy. Although the work of Chito Vijandre and Ricky Toledo derive their sources from historical and artistic references, what sets it apart is the innovativeness that changes the narrative and transforms it to witty, personal interpretations that never existed in the original, resulting in an output which is uniquely all their own.
The Vijandre-Toledo tag team in itself is a collaborative effort wherein one researches and the other does the actual work, identifying material sources as well as the installation requirements and process. Together they figure out the narrative and all its attendant details in order to produce that distinctive branding that has set apart their show windows, thereby raising the visual merchandising bar from a mere commercial occupation to a playground of imagination for wants and not necessarily needs. This art and design book is a tell all. But it doesn’t guarantee you can do all.
—Liliane Rejante Manahan
Conservator for Wall Paintings, Surface Decorator
Chairperson, Heritage Conservation Society
About the Authors
Chito Vijandre and Ricky Toledo met in Manila at a German halogen lighting shop, a rarity in 1980s Manila due to the scarcity of retail stores dedicated to space illumination. An obsession with lighting sparked the discovery of their mutual and multifarious passions and the beginning of their lifelong personal and creative partnership.
After graduating from De La Salle, Chito launched his career as a fashion designer, developing a reputation for his daring, innovative designs and masterful mix of colors and textures. He initially dressed the city’s youthful and glamorous women such as Chona Kasten, Tingting Cojuangco, and Menchu Menchaca Soriano and mounted some of the most elegant fashion shows, notably a much heralded one that was staged for foreign dignitaries at the presidential palace of Malacañan. Seeking further creative challenges, he eventually concentrated on interior design, creating distinctive residences for Manila’s A-list while designing upscale stores and restaurants. A request to do a 2012 show for the fiftieth anniversary of his alma mater, Slim’s Fashion and Arts School, however, spurred his comeback to fashion design. Such was the acclaim of the show that the Red Charity Gala asked him to do the charity shows for the benefit of the Philippine Red Cross in 2016 and 2019.
Fresh from Ateneo de Manila University, Ricky debuted as a production manager at an Italian publishing and design firm, spending part of the year in the company’s headquarters in Europe where he immersed himself in its arts and culture while producing showcase coffee table books and guidebooks to promote the Philippines. Later, he set up his own creative consultancy studio, creating multi-awarded TV commercials such as Bench’s “A Day in a Sculler’s Life” featuring Richard Gomez, which was recognized as one of the country’s top classic TV commercials of all time. He crafted many of Philippine tourism’s successful promotional campaigns and multimedia shows that were launched in major world cities, including the Philippine campaign in Paris, which successfully secured the bid to host the World Expo. His studio also designed trade show exhibits for the tourism and travel industry abroad including the pavilion for the Philippines, which was designated as the featured country of the Canadian National Exposition.
Joining forces, Chito and Ricky would commence a lifetime of cultivating their mutual love for the visual and performing arts while scouring the globe to educate themselves on high and low art as well as collect fine antiques and objets d’art. An accumulation of their most treasured objects led them to open Juno, a bespoke boutique. Inspired by popular demand, the artistic duo opened lifestyle shops Firma and AC+632 in Greenbelt, Makati, which garnered a following due to their distinctive line of lamps, couture pillows, antique silver, costume jewelry, and accessories that attracted discriminating clientele. The artistry and wit of their boutiques’ windows showcased objects of desire in set tableaux that wove fascinating tales with wondrous cultures, capturing imaginations and setting a new standard in the visual merchandising landscape.
In support of the Philippine design and export industry, the arts and culture tandem have acted as consultants for the FAME International show of CITEM (Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions), designing furniture and accessories for the country’s leading exporters. For the performing arts, they review theatrical productions and dance performances as jurors of Philstage, an alliance of performing arts companies that annually bestows awards of excellence in theatre productions. They also write a long-running column, Art De Vivre, for The Philippine Star and are contributing writers for Philippine Tatler publications.
Fifty Shades of Philippine Art is a series of affordable and concisely written books on fine, modern, or popular art. Among its titles are Isabelo Tampinco by Santiago Pilar (2018), Toti Cerda by Laya Boquiren (2019), Francisco V. Coching by Andrea Peterson (2019), Damián Domingo by Luciano P.R. Santiago (2020), and Philippine Cinematic Art (2020) by Christopher Datol, Andrea Peterson, Gaspar A. Vibal, and Nick Lajom.
Watch the book trailer here: https://fb.watch/a1coyqnekb/