Floral designer and TOAST Visual Merchandising Manager, Paula Ellis, has decorated our store windows with a sweeping festive arrangement. Evoking a sense of spectacle and performance, Paula talks us through the process of bringing the installation to life, from aligning her vision with our seasonal theme, Everyday Theatre, to the crafting of its different elements.
“Our concept this season is inspired by characters in a performance, the circus and the theatre of the every day, but I wanted to make it feel festive. I always try to create a display that has a feeling of being handmade; something that can be interpreted and made at home.”
To achieve a sense of bringing nature indoors, while echoing the performative aspect of the theatre, Paula incorporated sprawling wild asparagus and monkey vine which mimic circus hoops. These embellish the central hanging sculpture, made from lotus leaves coiled together to form a shape reminiscent of a ruffled clown collar. The inside of each leaf is a darker colour, while the natural pattern of the plant veins is visible on the outside.
Hanging beneath the lotus leaves and attached to wire and naturally dyed ribbon, papier-mâché bells nod to traditional festive motifs. Paula used two papier-mâché techniques, both made from recycled TOAST paper packaging. The first involved a pulpy flour and water mixture, blended before being shaped around a chicken wire structure. “I placed rattan seed pods in the middle to emulate festive bells,” Paula says. “I love getting a variation in texture from this method.”
For the smaller bells, she layered thin paper strips around a card base using the archetypal papier-mâché method. The paper has been infused with eucalyptus, pine, juniper and frankincense essential oils to conjure up the scent of the festive season in each of our stores.
Paula also hung dried limes and oranges from the display to imitate the appearance of juggling balls, once again marrying her ideas with the broader TOAST campaign. These can be easily replicated at home – simply score the citrus fruits, then slowly bake them at a very low temperature. This technique is preservative, so you can reuse them for years to come.
Each store installation has been strung with warm fairy lights on a copper wire which will cascade to the floor, contributing to the inviting ambience Paula has created while evoking the ritual of lighting up a tree.
All foliage, rattan fruits and seed pods have been sourced at the New Covent Garden Flower Market, but Paula emphasises that these unusual materials can be substituted with windfallen acorns, branches and cones by anyone wanting to recreate the display to hang over their own festive table.
You can view our festive window installations in each of our UK shops. Share a photo with us on Instagram using #TOASTbeing
Shop our festive decorations, from hand-painted baubles to furoshiki table gifts and paper garlands.