The first UK exhibition of iconic French shoe designer, Christian Louboutin, showcasing at the Design Museum until July 9, has been designed by London based customer experience design company, Household.
Drawing on Mr. Louboutin's assertion that 'every woman wants to be a showgirl,' Household has taken the concept to create a 'show' experience that celebrates the designers 20 years of design and which captures the artistry and theatricality of his craft. From stilettos to lace-up boots, studded sneakers and bejewelled pumps, his shoes are the epitome of style, glamour, power and elegance.
Working closely with Mr. Louboutin and The Design Museum, Household has designed an exhibition to realise a brief that explores the designer's collections through his key creative inspirations. Presented in a thematic rather than chronological format, the exhibits are grouped into displays examining themes of Transparency, Travel, Architecture, Entertainment and Handcrafted, all flowing from the central 'showgirl' installation of a 17 meters long signature red sole.
"We've been working closely with Christian over the past 3 years developing special retail projects. We get what inspires him and how to tell his brand story through his sense of theatre and playfulness. What we have created with the Design Museum captures Christian's journey and what inspires him from childhood to present day," said Simon Stacey, Creative Director at Household. "The result is an awe-inspiring, immersive and interactive experience for the visitor, full of dramatic moments and high anticipation."
On arrival a brightly lit arched entrance sets the scene for the experience ahead. Through the entrance the visitor moves into the shadow theatre where silhouettes are employed to examine the purity of line within the shoes form. From here visitors move into the vast central exhibition space where a carousel, helter-skelter and an oversized spinning top act as dynamic displays for the exhibits.
Juxtaposed with this vibrant, open space is a further exhibition room which houses shoes from the 2007 Fetish collection, with accompanying photography by David Lynch. Here, the visitor is immersed in a dark environment that changes pace and appearance through skillful lighting and sensuous fabric walls.
From here, the visitor is drawn into the heart of the exhibition; a recreation of Mr. Louboutin's Parisian atelier achieved through full-scale photographic panoramic wall graphics with objects from his studio bringing the creative hub to life. Central to this room is a display illustrating the six stages of the intricate construction process, allowing a deeper understanding of the craftsmanship behind the finished product.
In the movie theatre, which features luxuriously upholstered velvet seating, visitors are invited to view an animated film telling the story of Mr. Louboutin's early life and his journey into shoe design. The elliptical biography room offers further insight into his life in a setting reminiscent of Victorian zoetrope.
Oversized illustrated graphic panels support each collection display, giving a deeper understanding of the theme. Throughout runs a sub-exhibition, featuring 20 of Mr. Louboutin's most iconic shoes from his career, re-issued for his 20th anniversary year.
Household has moved far away from a prescriptive linear display to draw the visitor through the space on an unforgettable experiential journey. They worked closely with the Design Museum curator Donna Loveday and Christian Louboutin to design a brand experience for the retrospective show that embraces theatre, landscape architecture, film, graphic design and interactive technology. Household also translated the spirit of the show across all elements of marketing collateral including bespoke 'collectors' invitations.
Photography: Luke Hayes