Holiday Design Inspiration: Landor Updates Santa’s Workshop

Santa’s workshop took a 21st century twist this holiday season, with thanks to some top-notch, interactive design.

Landor Associates, one of the world’s leading strategic brand consulting and design firms, houses its Cincinnati team in the former Shillito’s downtown department store. With a historic department store comes historic department store windows, and the talented team at Landor is not one to let them sit vacant.

Instead, these window displays are transformed quarterly, filling an entire downtown block with compelling and creative new stories, showing the community a bit more of just what Landor can do, in multiple dimensions. It’s a creative outlet for Landor employees, and one they take seriously—bringing all minds together for the project, brainstorm to execution.

Winter Windows; Landor; Design Inspiration

“It became a really nice engagement piece for our employees and our company in general to rally behind. But then it also started to create interest and buzz and allow people to have a deeper understanding of who Landor was, what we stood for, the things we were passionate about, and the things we did well,” says Scott Dannenfelser, Creative Director at Landor.

Winter windows, design inspiration, landor

Interactive Engagement for Design Inspiration This Season

In its heyday, Shillito’s was a regional destination during the holidays, known for activating its windows with an intricate and engaging Santa’s workshop display, filled with hard-working animatronic elves. And this year, for its holiday windows, Landor decided to reimagine the iconic building’s roots to engage a new audience and reenergize a holiday destination.

But it’s certainly not all history. This workshop sits squarely in modern times. In the story woven throughout the display, Santa exclaims to the elves that “We’re upgrading our equipment and moving into the 21st century! That means LED signs, a new command center, and the Chroma-magic Colorizer!” (“It’s a toy-painting machine. Powered by the spirit of Christmas, it can’t be stopped!”)

Landor Windows

Motion and media energize the display. The “Kringle Positioning System” and “Elf Productivity Monitoring” screens integrate digital elements, while visual media projections mapped onto the physical elements offer dynamic content for the gifts and letters to Santa on display. The “Chroma-magic Colorizer” feature includes moving toys, also equipped with their own projections.

Winter Windows, Landor, design inspiration

The interaction extends to the human world, as well. “Where we can, we actually like to celebrate and activate outside of the windows…to take it to the street and to the people that are in the community and allow for them to engage with it as well,” says Mara Proctor, Senior Client Manager at Landor.

Social media-driven content invites passers-by to take photos of themselves and tag them #LandorXMAS on Instagram, and these pictures are then sorted as “Naughty” or “Nice” and included in the ongoing public display. The Landor team also took oversized picture frames of the same categories, and crayons and coloring books featuring the story of the display, to Fountain Square (the civic heart of downtown Cincinnati) to let the community in on the fun even more.

All elements—graphics, physical dimensional pieces, and the media layer—are designed, built and executed in-house. “With the projection mapping, we needed all the physical elements set up and installed before we could get in there to map it for how we’re going to fit the projection perfectly,” says Sean Hafer, Design Director at Landor. “It was at an angle, so we have certain software that we can use to distort to the actual image and then mask off what we don’t want to show.”

The windows act as a creative test space for the Landor team, offering them a chance to become producer, creative and client. “It gives opportunity to the different teams that are here to really flex their creative minds, whether it is with environments or whether it is with media, whatever that may be. It’s kind of like the handcuffs are off,” says Proctor.

Landor Windows, design inspiration

“For our side, it’s an opportunity to try new techniques. The projection mapping started with our windows a few years ago, and led to different installations up to LumenoCity. It’s great to be able to have the windows as a little creative lab out there,” says Hafer.

“If we’re not constantly pushing ourselves to think outside the box, I mean literally get outside of the cubicle, it can be very easy to be at your desk and stare at your computer all day and just hope that you push out the right work. But our approach is a little different and definitely more proactive, where we are actually seeking out inspiration. We’re seeking to inspire ourselves and each other, which also helps us then in our client work,” says Proctor.

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For the creatives at Landor, the community around them, and of course all the kiddos benefitting from these elves’ high-tech Christmas spirit, these windows are a welcomed holiday treat.

Speaking of the ultimate holiday treat… Give yourself the gift of HOW Design Live 2014. It’s the gift of design inspiration that will keep giving back to your work – for the entire year to come! 

HOW Design Live 2014