If you pass a Cowshed spa you'll see our Christmas windows have been revealed. This year they are a celebration of the fruits and flowers to be found in a traditional British hedgerow - a nod to our roots in the Somerset countryside and a reflection of this year's gift collection, designed by botanical illustrator Katie Scott. We spoke to the duo behind the windows, Anna and Grace of @anna.gracestudio to find out how they drew inspiration from our botanical ingredients and why it was important to them to make a sustainable display.
'Cowshed came to us with this idea of a hedgerow type bloom in the windows. After seeing the new illustrative packaging that Cowshed is using, that was our main point for getting our inspiration. Abstracting those feature patterns on the packaging, the hellebores were the main thing that really captured us. We do quite a lot of paper flower displays, so paper was a natural material for us to go with.'
'We also wanted to keep in mind using environmentally conscious materials that could be recycled again, or that have been recycled. We use an edible paper that will just disintegrate when we’re done with it, the berries are wooden beads, we were trying really hard to stick with that. There’s so much to explore within paper, different types, colours, weights and treatments. Sometimes when people think of paper displays they have a bit of an image in their head and its really nice to challenge that and be like ‘no, this is all made from paper’ but it doesn’t have to look ‘crafty’ as such.
There’s craftsmanship to it but 'craft' is such a tricky word, it sounds like a less refined thing, but it can be really high end, very meticulous. It’s one of those things where if you get the treatment right, people will be like ‘what is that made of?’ and you can say "aha! It’s paper!" It makes it more of a challenge – in a good way – because it’s so easy to get something that’s quick, but to have to consciously find a sustainable solution, it’s something we're trying really hard to do.'
'You have to figure out a way to make that work, instead of being like ‘yep that’s done’ you have to be like ‘ok, we’ve got this berry, we need to use these wooden beads but they’re not quite shiny enough, what can we do? It’s quite satisfying in the end. We had to cut hundreds of petals out and then we selected one colour to just add that treatment onto so that it stands out as a bit more of a special flower, the highlight. We do a lot of paper displays and it’s a material we feel really confident with, but then the berries we had to sew together so that was more of an embroidery technique.'
'We’ve worked together for a while on different brands and looking back on all the different displays we’ve done, it has always been different, every year, which is really satisfying. It’s more exciting to come up with something new every time and do something less obvious sometimes, then go back to the traditional in other years. We’ve never done something like this for a Christmas display. It's a classically beautiful display direction, whereas other jobs have been a bit more bonkers. It’s not an obviously ‘Christmassy’ design, it’s more about winter.'
'That’s really nice because I think it gives the window longevity. Christmas windows usually go in in October and it can be quite disconcerting when you go down the high street and there are baubles everywhere! But this is something that feels wintery, very elevated and refined for Christmas and that suits the brand so well, it makes sense. The environmentally friendly side of Cowshed was very interesting. It was a refreshing challenge and something that in the rest of our lives we're trying to stay on top of, so it seems ridiculous to not try and do it within our work. We work in an industry where there is waste and it’s an opportunity to show that it is possible to make an amazing display that doesn’t have to go to landfill.'
'With Cowshed, there’s a serenity around the brand and it's really nice to match the display to that feeling. There are elements that are intricate but then there are elements that are quite simplified as well. It's going to be full and brambly, but then when you look at the individual pieces they are quite calm and refined.'
'When I’m going past a window if anything makes you stop and you’re a little bit intrigued by it, even if it just catches your eye for that moment, that’s good. Growing up, I remember the Christmas windows of Liberty’s and Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason. My mum would take me up to see the Christmas windows every year. That’s something that’s stuck with me and now here I am!
We’re a bit of a stickler for things looking refined and polished, then realising that you’ve done that one and there’s 30 more to make. That panic moment when you’re like… ok, how do you feel about sleep?! Looking back to where we started from to this point of making the final pieces, it’s a very happy ending.'