Mirror, mirror on the wall
A multi-million redesign of London’s iconic Harrods includes a hi-tech transformation of the Beauty Hall into a world-class retail installation. Sean Carroll finds out more.
As stores across the UK attempt a return to normality, Harrods’ famous Knightsbridge luxury department store will be hoping that a recent redesign (valued at over A$375) will pull the punters back through the doors.
Part of this redesign includes the 90,000ft² Beauty Hall which aims to combine the heritage of the near-two century-old Harrods building with contemporary design influences and technology.
It also features state-of-the-art interactive displays called Magic Mirrors, which are designed by Videotree, a manufacturer of high-end bathroom, outdoor, mirror and bespoke displays.
These Magic Mirrors digitally map facial features so that customers can try different products such as lipsticks, foundations and blushers, all without ever putting them on their skin.
“All the mirrors have been custom designed using the very latest in vanishing mirror technology and the project is unique in the United Kingdom,” Videotree sales director Chris Bruce says.
“The mirrors are manufactured to give a single user an experience like no other and as such there have been over 20 interactive mirrors installed with more to follow in their new ‘H-Beauty’ stores which are due to open later this year.”
The hardware has been matched with augmented reality make up software and the screens are programmed to be able to cope with the entire range of brands like Dior and L’Oreal which are available to buy in the store.
By digitally mapping the facial features of customers, people can try on an entire suite of makeup products without the hassle of putting them on and taking them off. It uses YouCamm software which is specifically designed in tandem with leading brands across the world.
The mirrors are designed for individual use and to stop the software applying makeup to subjects it’s not supposed to, it identifies users that are approximately 40cm away from the screen.
“As the project was entirely custom built for Harrods, there were over 50 individually machined parts from 3D printing to water jetting of the glass, camera alignments for individual heights and having the exact replication of daylight on the mirror for the end user,” Chris explains.
The G.A Group was the company contracted to design the Harrods Beauty Hall.
“G.A’s design for the Harrods Beauty Hall is forward-thinking, whilst still embracing the heritage of Harrods, the magic mirrors fit perfectly into this brief,” G.A Design director Corinna Galdies explains.
“It lets people test a full range of makeup products virtually by using a touch screen magic mirror with integrated software. Aesthetically, the mirrors fit beautifully into G.A’s design narrative, helping to create a space that is reflective of Harrods’ history as well as a celebration of its future.”
From start to finish, the magic mirror project took 18 months to finish as Videotree machined each aspect of the project, ensuring it was to the client’s liking.
“Videotree has been manufacturing mirror and bathroom TVs for over 20 years now and has a wealth of experience in this industry,” Chris says.
He says that it was no surprise that G.A Design came to them with this idea for the project.
“After initial meetings with the designers and subsequent meetings with various consultants and stakeholders we were able to demonstrate a full working prototype six months from instruction. Once the prototype was fully approved following some tweaks we were ready to roll the product out.”
Chris says that since the Harrods project, Videotree has been contacted by many retail outlets looking for a similar customer experience in their own store. It may only be a matter of time before we’re looking into our own magic mirror at a local shopping centre.