Guest Contribution by Pascal Panagiotidis
When was the last time you were thrilled by a shop window display? Did you ever catch yourself looking at a store’s window rather than the product itself? Have you ever been left speechless just right before you enter a shop? Next time you pass by a shop window display take a closer look and if you are lucky enough you may be in front of a ja! studio’s concept.
Ion Ander Beloki -ja- (Tolosa, 1970), started his professional career as a window dresser in Barcelona after completing his training in graphic design and sculpture. His work, influenced by contemporary visual culture and an esthetic imprint with roots in his Basque origins, is dotted with commercial contradictions being nonetheless very effective. Currently he lives in London and works for different companies producing installation-oriented works.
ja! studio has been creating shop windows for the clothing company Loreak Mendian under the concept of transmitting the essence of the Brand through smalll installations on a monthly basis. There is no better word to describe the aim of the conceptual windows in San Sebastian, Madrid, Barcelona and that is: provoke! The marketing department meets every semester to develop series of displays and determine on a product on which to focus each month. Once done the window dresser makes up the ideas and the window design is set. The setting consists of a diaphanous space (white, in most cases) that covers an area of 6x 9.50 sq (m2). Sockets and rails on the ceiling are usually used in order to give the chance to create different atmospheres. That’s why most of the windows also have dual, night and day, lighting system. The items used in displays range from digital productions, waste material, daily utensils to specifically designed items tailored made for a job. Synthetic paint with different finishes, cardboard, shellacked wood or vinyl are some of the materials to be taken into account when performing a display.
You have a graphic design and also sculpture background. Do you use these two elements in your concepts? Do you like this kind of mix and match?
Yes, these two disciplines are always present in my installations. Seldom mixed together, I mean that I use different levels for each, creating an interaction.βÂ¨
What do you think makes your shop installations special, or in other words a success?βÂ¨
I believe that my windows are about more than just about the product. I take everyday objects and create new meanings for them, I want the shoppers to stop and think and that is maybe why my work is successful.βÂ¨
βÂ¨βÂ¨Do you intend to “catch” the public’s reaction in front of your shop installations?
Is this something you take under consideration?βÂ¨No not at all, I don't consider public when thinking about the design, I always try to surprise myself and provoke the public.βÂ¨
You have Basque roots, worked in Catalunya and currently live in London. Different places, Different cultures. Do you think that makes you a multicultural artist and how is this expressed through your projects?
I don’t consider myself as an artist. Constantly working and living in different places, gives me the possibility of seeing interesting things and having the opportunity of meeting different people.This, enriches my work and has a direct influence on it.βÂ¨βÂ¨
What is your wildest imagination that you would like to materialize in one of your future projects?
I would love to set on fire literally a shop in sales time.βÂ¨
I’d love to see that! Looking back at your projects I have the impression that there is a special relationship between you and the animals. Would you like to tell us if they are an inspiration for you and how that works in your concepts.βÂ¨
The only thing that interest me about the animals is their behaviour...They produce very interesting shapes and do amazing things. In my work they reference places and situations that I experienced in my life.