We used to have a summer intern named Sarah back in the days when we were living large. However, like all good things, it had to end. She got accepted at RISD and off to school she went. Last week a few of us were in L.A. for a party. Coincidentally, Sarah is working at the Anthropologie store in town as their “Visual Intern.” We thought we would drop by to see what our girl has been doing all Summer.
The general direction and overall visual themes of Anthropologie stores are determined by the Home Office, but each individual store is responsible for the execution of the vision. Sarah’s work is guided, but they let her do much of it herself. Her pieces were all over the store. They ranged from really large ones to tiny little signs.
A big piece such as a wall-spanning mozaic (constructed completely by hand) can take several days to cut, link together, and hang. Smaller installations such as a tree may have fewer pieces, but are no less time consuming to make. Note the handmade mushroom details at the base. Even things which MAY look real (branches behind the house) are often painstakingly arranged. The leaves were cut from bigger leaves using a template, individually attached to the branches, and everything positioned just so.
The store decorations can sometimes be difficult to distinguish from the store merchandise. Sarah made the wall hanging and bed canopy as part of the bed display, but one could visualize it in an actual bedroom. That may be part of Anthropologie’s formula of success. They have created a shopping experience for those looking for an alternative to the cookie-cutter world of Banana Republic and The Gap.
One thing we didn’t know about Anthropologie is they move things around EVERY DAY to give the stores a fresh yet lived-in look. This means that the Visual Crew’s day often starts at 5 AM so they can move pieces around and get things arranged before the 10 AM opening. Another thing which is interesting about Anthropologie is MOST things in the store have a price tag on them. This is because most things (desks, bookcases, and mirrors) in the store are for sale, not just the clothes, dishes, and household items. If you like the look of a particular corner of the store, you can bring it ALL home.
Meaningful real-world work experience is difficult to come by for students. Most Summer internships are nothing more than work-fare programs for kids of employees. It is pretty cool that an operation such as Anthropologie is providing opportunities for tomorrow’s designers and artists to stretch their wings a little between semesters.
Sarah will be heading back to RISD in a few days, so the Anthropologie store in El Segundo Plaza in L.A. will be looking for a new Visual Intern. Sarah said it was a really fun place to work (great people, interesting projects) and she picked up some awesome experience. If you think you have what it takes to step into Sarah’s shoes, then you should head on down and submit your applicaton…now.