21 February 2017
Douglas Little is a master of visual communication and storytelling. He specialises in interpreting corporate identity and then transforming it into dramatic window displays, products, advertising and other media that articulate the unique sensibility of a particular brand.
A California native, Douglas Little originally studied marketing and product development at UCLA and the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. After years of working for prominent companies in the beauty and cosmetics industry, he left America to study at the Syndicat National des Fabricants de Produits Aromatiques in Grasse, France. With that experience in hand, he returned to the U.S. in 2003 and founded D.L. & Co.: Modern Alchemists and Purveyors of Curious Goods. Douglas has applied his personal aesthetic to a wide range of products beginning with artisanal perfumed candles and extending to jewelry, porcelain, glass, writing papers, home accessories and personal care items. Douglas has produced window displays for Jim Thompson for both their Paris and London showrooms; as well as for an array of other well-known luxury brands. Most recently, he used his experience in window design as a judge on the American TV show 'Window Warriors'.
How did you first get in to window display design and what did you first love about it?
In 2006 I produced an editorial for House and Garden Magazine called "Gothic Splendor", the 8 page editorial celebrated the dark and romantic mood that had set into interior design. The images were shot in a spectacular mansion in Yonkers, New York where I curated a series of decadent tableaux's complete with legendary model and muse Carmen Dell'Orefice. I showed the images to Linda Fargo at Bergdorf Goodman who immediately suggested that they be windows at the store.
This is how it started. Up until this point I had not done windows per se. When I first got out of school I was recruited to work for a manufacturer of professional cosmetics as an art director. Part of my responsibilities was designing and producing trade show displays and environments for our product launches. This work provided the beginnings for my love of environmental design and developing unique ways of communicating brand identity and product display.
What initially sparked my interest in window display was that it was often overlooked by retailers. In 2006, when my "Gothic Splendor" windows debuted at Bergdorf Goodman, window dressing was not a major topic of discussion. Now, window dressing has made a massive resurgence with retailers investing big money in their windows, retailers understand that they are a unique and important means of communication with their customers. Outside of the business of window display I also love the immersive story telling that they allow. A good window should transport the viewer and provide a moment of pure fantasy.
What inspired the latest collection of fantastic beasts for the Jim Thompson Deco Off display?
When we begin discussing ideas for Paris Deco Off I ask Ou Baholyodhin (Creative Director for Jim Thompson) to tell me about his inspiration for the fabric collections. I was completely taken with Leo De Janeiro - the fabric pattern inspired by the dancing lion of January, and Ming Ming - the opulent silk jacquard adorned with traditional Asian motifs.
I wanted to take inspiration from the fabrics and bring them to life in an elegant and whimsical way, a sort of three-dimensional Chinoiserie behind the glass. With window display, you have about three seconds to get your viewers attention and these fantastic beasts are both visually arresting and charming.
Where do you go for inspiration for a new project and how do you come up with a new design?
I find a lot of my inspiration in fairytales, verses and idioms, like "cat got your tongue" or "thick as thieves”; I love these old fashioned sayings as they are imbedded into our subconscious and make for great visual inspiration. When I am developing a new design idea I like to draw my inspiration from the materials I am working with and let them "speak" to me. I personally feel that each material has a language of its own and it takes time and patience to articulate their poetry.
You are a window display and set designer but have also designed a wide range of products and have specialised in scent. Is working with scent very different to other aspects of design?
Working with scent is my passion. I have been obsessed with fragrance since I was a child and have spent any spare time indulging in its history and creation. What I love about fragrance is that it is invisible and dramatically different from my other design projects. Fragrance is also wildly personal and subject to interpretation, which is another reason that I love it so deeply. It causes us to communicate with one another in new and deeply engaging ways, talking about the way a fragrance makes one feel or how it reminds them of a loved one or favorite place and time.
(Explore Douglas’ Fragrance brand, Heretic Perfume here)
How do your various design expertise come together?
We are living in an age obsessed with technology and companies are trying to figure out new and innovative ways of engaging with their customers. Engaging the senses is one of the most important and poignant ways to do this. More and more I am being asked by clients to design the way something will look and how it might smell. In my work on Queen of the Night at the Diamond Horseshoe in NYC I was hired as the set and scent designer where I created opulent environmental design that was reinforced with fragrances that emphasized and accentuated the spaces.
When you’re not working, what do you love to do?
I am an avid motorcycle rider and enthusiast, love cooking, drinking wine and playing with our three bulldogs.
Aside from creating inventive window displays for Jim Thompson, Douglas’ client list includes Van Cleef & Arpels, Barney’s New York, Bergdorf Goodman, Maxfield Los Angeles, Neiman Marcus, Harry Winston, Mrs. John L. Strong, Ports 1961, Nasher Sculpture Museum and the Dallas Museum of Art. For more, visit his website here.
By Amelia Jim Thompson on 21 Feb 2017
16 February 2017
Paris Deco Off is one of the annual highlights in the Jim Thompson calendar. It is an opportunity for Jim Thompson, alongside over 100 other brands, to welcome visitors to their showrooms in Paris and showcase their new collections. Interior designers, the international press and the general public are invited to view all the newest designs and scrutinize the latest trends which are conveniently located in one place, over four days. This years Paris Deco Off took place between 19th-23rd January and with it being such an important event for Jim Thompson, we thought we could provide a taste of some of the highlights during our busy time there.
Monday 16th January
The team arrived from Thailand to set up and prepare the showroom. Although the actual event did not start until Thursday, there was much to be done in terms of preparation. The new collections were shipped all the way from Thailand, needing to be arranged and hung. Freshly upholstered furniture, showcasing the latest fabrics, was delivered and arranged. The press kits unpacked as the team got ready to welcome visitors from all over the world.
Tuesday 17th January
The preparations continued, the extremely talented and renowned window display designer Douglas Little flew over from America with his creations to install in the showroom window. Exquisite animal sculptures were brought to life before our eyes, made solely from Jim Thompson velvets. Douglas worked tirelessly, adding the finishing touches to his masterpiece from the showroom.
Wednesday 18th January
Jim Thompson held a day of important design meetings with the international Jim Thompson teams who flew in from Atlanta USA, London and Munich. With our departments being spread across the globe, meetings like this in Paris are crucial to discuss future collections and to gain feedback and insights from every side of the business. The intimate discussions were held at the Parisian home of Jim Thompson’s Assistant Managing Director, Eric Booth.
Design presentations on the newly launched collections were given by the Creative Director of Jim Thompson, Ou Baholyodhin; the designer of No.9 Thompson, Richard Smith; and the designer from Fox Linton in London, Kathleen Butler. This year the presentations were held at Le Centre Culturel du Crous de Paris, which hosts a wide variety of events, concerts and interesting exhibitions, making it an ideal location for back to back meetings and presentations. In the evening, a private event was hosted especially for Jim Thompson’s French reps at the Centre Culturel du Crous.
The Thai press arrived and were given a warm welcome from the whole team. This year, Jim Thompson were honoured to welcome the Thai press for the first time and had the privilege of giving representatives from some of the best publications in Thailand a special insight into how our business works in Europe.
Thursday 19th January
Paris Deco Off officially started. Jim Thompson were finally able to welcome visitors to the showroom and share fabrics from the new collection and the stunning window display by Douglas Little.
Jim Thompson were extremely fortunate to be given the opportunity to work with Eichholtz, a leading wholesaler of luxury furniture. Their stunning pieces, upholstered in Jim Thompson fabrics, were admired by many of our visitors.
While the staff in our showroom were busy welcoming scores of guests, our Creative Director Ou gave formal presentations of the new collections (Leo de Janeiro and Negresco) to our international teams, with separate presentations and exclusive interviews with both the European and Thai press.
After a long but successful first day, everyone was in the mood to celebrate; Eric Booth (Jim Thompson’s Assistant Managing Director) hosted a drinks reception at his beautiful Parisian property. It was so special to have everyone celebrating together but our whole team would agree that it was Mary Fox Linton’s presence that truly stole the show. Mary is admired worldwide for her dedication to interior design, with a hugely successful career spanning over fifty years. Today she continues to oversee her popular textile brand Fox Linton, which designs exquisite luxury textiles. Fox Linton is famed for its beautiful plain fabrics, made using only the highest quality materials, usually incorporating silk and wool. Mary gave an emotional and extremely inspirational speech, leaving few dry eyes in the house.
Friday 20th January
Visitors flocked to the showroom while the press meetings continued, and Ou and Richard presented their latest collections exclusively to the American team.
In the evening everyone dressed up to the nines and made their way to the grand Hotel de Ville for the annual American Party, sponsored by Jim Thompson America. This extremely grand affair is dedicated to US companies and clients but welcomes a wide variety of brands, giving them the opportunity to network together over fine food and wine, and is also a great excuse to dress up.
Saturday 21st January
The celebrations continued on Saturday evening with Jim Thompson’s street party, hosted outside the showroom on the quaint Rue de Furstenberg. The Thailand team organised a splendid lion dance to celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year and the new collection. Leo de Janeiro is directly inspired by the iconic lion dance held worldwide for traditional New Year celebrations. The spectacle attracted an impressive crowd and was the perfect way to bring the story of Leo de Janeiro to life, and the event overall to a gradual close.
Visit our Instagram for more photos from Paris Deco Off 2017.
By Amelia Jim Thompson on 16 Feb 2017
For the creative team at Jim Thompson, the shoot is one of the most exciting times. It is an opportunity to see all the hard work come together, from a concept and story, to the development and design, to finally becoming finished fabrics. The photoshoot also gives our Creative Director Ou Baholyodhin an idea of how the different fabrics, with their various colour schemes, patterns and compositions, will work in real application. This insight, achieved through the transformation of the collection into distinctive one-off upholstered pieces, elegant drapes and bold cushions, pulled together in a glamorous setting, is undoubtedly invaluable.
Ou Baholyodhin our Creative Director of Home Furnishings is always on hand, using his extensive design experience to give constructive suggestions, adjust a pillow or drape here and there, and taking time out of his busy schedule to oversee the project as a whole.
Jim Thompson holds a photoshoot for every new collection, involving a concise team of talented photographers and style assistants and shot at an exclusive location. The site, once decided on, is furnished with fabrics from the latest collection; the space’s are always carefully chosen, architecturally impressive, striking and unique. The locations have to bring the collection to life in a beautiful way, both should compliment and inspire one another, which makes choosing the right space extremely important.
This January, Jim Thompson launched two collections; Leo de Janeiro, inspired by the carnivalesque atmosphere and the iconic dancing lion at Chinese New Year; and Negresco, an outdoor collection inspired by the vacationing lifestyle of the French Riviera and the resplendent Hotel Negresco in Nice, France. See the new collection’s and further images from the photoshoot here.
By Amelia Jim Thompson on 6 Feb 2017