As a child, his family made trips to New York, where his mother shopped at stores like Saks and Macy’s. The showcases – the spaces, the lights, the colors, the textures – always caught his attention. Today, Raylin Díaz Suárez, architect and designer from Santiago, after working with the renowned designers Sully Bonnelly and Diane von Fürstenberg – before becoming the creative director of the rSquared company and connecting with the head visuals of his different clients (among them Saks) – is the design head of the 32 showcases of Saks Fifth Avenue .
As a child, you wanted to understand the process behind those works of art; Now you are on the other side. Considering that each showcase is unique, is your creative process also unique? The process is the same, but each showcase has a different theme and inspiration. The first thing I do is study the clothes, the trend and the brands to which the showcase is going to be dedicated. Based on that, make a mood board with images of shops, street style, of runways, of ad campaigns, of inspiration in art, colors … Then I sit down with my team and took ideas in a round table, which then I debug and analyze until I get a final idea. That’s where the production process begins: we started to asksamples and I make a setup in a showcase that I have on a real scale, to start correcting until I identify the final concept. Then the showcase and voila is installed !
If you were always interested in ephemeral architecture, why did you train with the permanent? I decided I wanted to do something more dynamic and fast, because I do not have much patience; I need to do projects back to back . That’s why I decided to work on the Ephemeral Architecture, which is faster and more advanced. However, I use the basis of the architecture every day to work with the showcases.
How important are the display cases in visual merchandising? The visual merchandising , in a company like Saks, is one of the keys to attract customers, to make people stop, look, come and buy. The showcase is the face of the store; It is an invitation, to give the client an idea of what he will find inside. Especially in a city like New York, where there is so much competition, they have to be elevated, at the height of the customers, of the clothes and accessories that are being presented. There my team and I entered.
You took the piglets to Fifth Avenue in New York. How much of the Dominican culture have you been able to introduce in the shop windows? That has two faces. The first is that I brought the piglets because it is part of my culture: of our celebrations and charisma. I wanted to bring a little of my roots in a natural way. The piglets were perfect for the trend of that moment we were exploring (the embellishments ). The other part, if I’m honest, is that I bring my culture, my education and way of thinking every day to my showcases and my work. The essence behind the showcase comes from there, from when I grew up and from everything I learned.
Are there more details of the Dominican Republic that you want to bring to the Saks shop windows? There are many things that I would love to present. Every time I go there, there is so much inspiration: the landscapes are beautiful, the flamboyanes, the marchantas that you see on the beach. There is a lot of wealth that I could explore; what you have to find is the perfect moment.
Tell us about “Heavenly Bodies” for the Met Gala .
The Met makes the Met Gala event every year, the most important in the fashion industry. Last year we had the opportunity to receive an invitation from Vogue and the Met to work with them on a showcase dedicated to the Met Gala. Having the joy of working hand in hand with that team was a dream.
How much did the Dominican Catholic tradition influence your interpretation of the concept of “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination”?
Well I am Catholic and the topic was Catholic. Not only did I think of the beautiful St. Patrick’s Church , which is next to Saks, but I focused on what I thought and saw when I went to church while I was growing up. I used all that inspiration within what I studied about the Catholic Church to soak up the subject and be able to present something substantial.
Although all showcases are different, they are still showcases: they have mannequins, limits of space and time for people to observe them. Do these conditions limit or inspire you?
Those “limits” are what give me the energy and the adrenaline. I love knowing that we have a deadline, that we have to produce this in a certain time. The term you have to produce and execute it is what keeps you active and gives you the strength to look for solutions and do it well. On the contrary, it is an essential part of the job, to know how long it will last, when it has to open and when it has to close. If it closes, it means that a new one is coming, and if it opens, it means that we made another one.
Considering that “showcase” is “window” in English (a window), where do the windows you design enter us? Where do you want to transport those who are outside?With imagination people can go where I want because the richness of a window is that it is free to the imagination. You make a concept that you work with a team and present it, but in reality everyone has their point of view. For me a yellow dot can be the sun; for another person, it can be a light bulb. For me, it’s more interesting to have a showcase that does not tell you everything in the face, but that makes you think and analyze, take your imagination and take it to a place. That’s the richness of the showcases, which put the imagination of the whole world to work. For me a showcase is really good when people have to include their point of view and draw their own conclusions.
It’s like the relationship of an author with his readers . Exactly, it’s like when you read a book. In your head you make an image of what you are reading, but that is your image. Another person will read it and another will be made … but it is the same book. For me, that’s the showcase: everyone interprets what they want.
Previously you said that if you were a showcase, you would probably be a mirror. What do you seek to repeat or reflect from society, from those who look at you from the outside, or simply from the space in front? First I am fascinated with mirrors, because I love the idea of repetition. It seems to me that repeating objects is very rich, and that it puts the imagination to work. A mirror is something that you present and everyone sees something different. There is something magical within them, because only the idea that you are reflecting something that you have in front of you, wow … for me that is out of this world.
How were you decorated? I think it would be a white space with a very simple mirror, and a light on top of the mirror. Very simple. It would be a free space, an open space, without complexities, which people can enter to simply think .
The experience of each one would be totally different from the next. It would be a different image every time … Some people would take the space to meditate, others to take selfies, others to sit down to think, others to read …
What concept would you love to try in the showcases you have not tried yet? The other day I was thinking about making an empty showcase, to see what will happen and what reaction people will have; that has no merchandise or anything, just the space, like the one I told you previously. Maybe it has access for people to enter and they themselves are the showcase.
The windows of Saks Fifth Avenue are famous. It has been said that few things represent the holiday season in New York as the revelation of Saks’ festive showcase. Today, you are responsible for these works of art. how does it make you feel? I’m going to be sincere with you. This is going to be my third Christmas showcase for Saks. Those are the most challenging; they work during the whole year, in parallel to the others. Last year, 975,000 people came to see her … The street closes, the lights show is done in the building and then they open the showcase … I cry when I see her. I get super nostalgic because it’s a very hard job. I dedicate my lifeto that showcase. When I see people outside taking pictures, children and people pushing to see it, that’s what fills me and gives me the satisfaction that a good job was done.
You make 3 creative trips a year. What was the last country you visited? I just arrived from Fashion Week. I was in France, Portugal and Milan.
What fate do you need to visit? From my list, I have not been to Thailand yet. I think I’ll find a lot of inspiration there, with colors and landscapes.
Soutce: Diario Libre