Makes you smile

Isetan department store

Shop windows aren’t what they used to be. Christmas is the season. But apart from Selfridges and Harvey Nichols (for the traditionalists we might include Harrods but I’m not going to) there isn’t a lot of inspiring window display going on. If you are lucky you get a bit of white stuff to indicate snow, ribbon-tied piles of stacked boxes or perhaps some baubles, usually of varying aesthetic quality.

A friend recently went to Tokyo, Japan and took this picture of the Isetan department store in its Christmas 2015 coat. The whole thing looked great and I wanted to know more.

The theme of the Isetan windows this year is Jenkka – Life is a Gift. Apparently a Jenkka is a Finnish folk dance. The store commissioned 22 illustrators from all over to design their campaign. They covered the store in vinyls. They made a free downloadable song sung by plait-ed, costum-ed Finnish singers. They made a website with an animation of all the characters dancing and a social campaign to upload and decorate a selfie. They made a video of the Isetan Mitsukoshi staff singing along to the song. Finally (just to tease me, I am sure) they made paper carrier bags, each done by a different illustrator.

This is how to do proper Christmas decorations. The illustrations let loose across the building – and the rest of the campaign – make the whole thing joyous. Much more so than the slick John Lewis adverts (with their stage school castings and revoltingly twee songs to buy on iTunes) that are supposed to get us excited about the season.

The sumo character here was drawn by Ana Albero. The pulchritudinous ladies in baby blue jumpers were drawn by the splendidly named Thai illustrator Ittiphat Jittichotphong. That name and the whole campaign make me smile.

Isetan Japan shopping bags


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