Why the video wall?
Wednesday, August 22, 2012 by Ivor Dickinson
The installation of the nine screen video wall in Douglas & Gordon’s new office in Harrington Road has raised a number of eyebrows and posed several questions. To fully answer the question, one needs to go back in time as to why Douglas & Gordon bought this office.
We acquired an agency called Berkeley International about eight years ago with the principal aim of relaunching their Kensington Church Street office. This we did but we were then left with the Harrington Road site which although having a very prominent position with double frontage and a side return, it was an incredibly shallow shop with room for only three desks and was also very close to Douglas & Gordon’s existing offices in Sloane Avenue and Gloucester Road. I therefore decided, for the last seven years, to use it as an installation and over the years, we have had some astonishing displays from recent graduates from various London colleges and have helped launch their careers and at the same time, we hope, provided a site of great interest for all the local residents. However, time moves on and with the massive influx of French buyers in the last two years and this site being so brilliantly positioned directly opposite the lycee, we decided to seek planning permission to extend the premises and make it a more viable estate agent’s office.
Having done this, the office is still reasonably shallow. However, with its incredibly prominent position and large windows, it occurred to me that this was an opportunity to make the back wall of the office more interesting, as it could be viewed from the street by thousands of people every day.
I think my original inspiration came from watching the recent Hockney exhibition and his use of television screens. So the decision to install a complex video wall with high definition screens and state of the art technology to enable them all to work either as one or independently was made. It wasn’t until the screens had actually been paid for that I started to think about how best we could use them. Eventually, I came up with four separate ideas.
Firstly and most importantly, this should be used to aid the public to buy a property and with some extensive technological work, we have come up with an i-pad and various settings which enables visitors to the office to see the whole South Kensington / Chelsea area over the nine screens and then highlight anything that they want to see in the area such as schools, bus stops, parks, transport links, flats or properties available and in a particular price range etc etc. It also enables you to see the actual properties that you are thinking of visiting in seriously super size!
Then, following on from our original use of this office and the graduate shows, we launched the Douglas & Gordon Ravensbourne film competition. Ravensbourne is the leading film and media college in London and for the past four months, students have been submitting their work and prizes will be awarded at the end of September. All these films will then be sewn together and can be viewed at our Harrington Road office from the pavement, after work, or in the office, during the day.
Thirdly, following the success of our “Under Offer” web viral, we employed the same film crews and hired one of only three super slow motion cameras in the country to film D&G staff at work and at play and to create some beautiful imagery, as well as pampering to the D&G staff egos. Again, these films will be on a loop with the film school and our properties during the day.
Fourthly, and perhaps most excitingly, is the use of an i-connect. Again, this is cutting edge technology and we are still finalising how it will work but ultimately, when the office is closed, passers-by, as well as being able to look at our properties, will be able to manipulate by using an i-connect through our window from the pavement a massive image over the nine screens, comprising lines and dots, which as long as they are extremely well coordinated, will be able to form a surprise result.
Why go to all this trouble? Firstly, because we have always made it our business to experiment with new technology and secondly, the minute our last branding idea is copied, it is then time to think of something new. We hope that this unique way of looking for property combined with fun imagery will attract people to our new South Kensington office and keep Douglas & Gordon at the very forefront of innovation.
By Ivor Dickinson