Alice Hume from Studio 12 was involved in an exciting commissioned project this year with shoe company Allbirds and the opening of their first UK store. Read on to hear about Alice’s experience first hand and the processes involved! All photos are courtesy of Alex Fountain.
‘In September 2018 I was given an incredible opportunity to create a unique set of wool hangings for a window display in Covent Garden. After being head hunted by the events team XYZ, I jumped at the chance and worked in collaboration with my talented friend Ami Hyde. With over 25kg of wool and a tight deadline this was most definitely a two woman job.
Inspired by natural materials, Allbirds have created the world’s most comfortable shoes. The natural materials they use include sugar cane, eucalyptus tree fibre and merino wool. The shoe laces are made from recycled plastic bottles, the packaging is made up of 90% recycled cardboard and castor bean oil is used to increase the natural content in the insoles. Leonardo DiCaprio is an investor and celebrities from Mila Kunis to Barack Obama have been seen wearing the shoes.
I was asked to design and create the window display for wool, ensuring it is soft and cosy to represent the merino wool they source in New Zealand to create their shoes. I ordered merino wool from a British supplier and used strong cotton for the warp. I decided on nine hangings to fill the window, keeping the widths all the same but the lengths varied. I used four techniques of weaving to ensure the hangings were all different, these were twisted, long fringe, cut fringe and chunky loops.
The client wanted a colour palette of creams, whites and greys so I ordered five different shades of grey which I spread out across the nine hangings. Once my design was approved and the wool had arrived we started with the weaving. The wool was super soft to work with and we both had so much fun making them. We used two big frame Looms in my studio and when one was completed we hung them up and started on the next.
It was fantastic working with my friend Ami, we both have similar tastes and absolutely adore the boho style. Ami has her own wedding company called Lo & Behold Bespoke where she does commissions, prop hire and events styling along with lots of beautiful photo shoots. We worked so well together and Ami was amazing at making the giant fluffy hangings.
I decided to hang them from two rods of dowelling to complement the tree materials they use in their shoes. By having two pine dowels this meant the hanging had a lot more support as some of the really fluffy ones weighed 5kg.
Once the hangings were completed they were collected by courier and delivered to the Covent Garden store. Before they were sent off I asked my friend Alex Fountain who’s a photographer to take some photos of them. I hung them on two iron hooks near the Round tower viewpoint, which worked so well as it looked a bit like cow horns. The textures of the wall complimented the soft wool and colours that were used.
I then went up a few days later and worked with the project manager and shop fitters on how I wanted them to be displayed. They did such an incredible job and they used really strong wire cable to hang them because of their heavy weight.
On the 17th October the store launched and I was invited up. The store managers and sales assistants were all really lovely and gifted me my first pair of Allbirds shoes. I went for the merino wool ones of course in grey with terracotta laces, they really are the most comfortable shoes. I took lots of photographs and I am so pleased with the final window display, I had amazing feedback from the client and the events team.
The window display will be up for the next 18 months, so please go visit Allbirds 121-123 Long Acre, Covent Garden, London.’