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Selfridges Window Display 

Orrery Model

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Artem has recently completed what has been described as Selfridges’ most ambitious window installation to date: a huge 2.8 metre high working orrery – a mechanical model of the solar system – to form the centrepiece of the landmark store’s 2015 cosmos-themed Christmas windows display.

Project Details 

The chrome and gold mechanical model was required to function non-stop every day from October into the New Year on Oxford Street, Europe’s busiest shopping street. It was therefore essential that nothing was left to chance, which required each and every aspect of the orrery to be first designed in our CAD software, allowing us to design the mechanism and the components simultaneously and to easily send a number of detailed renders to the client for approval.

Once the design was signed off, we were able to commence the ambitious task of bringing the 2.8m spinning orrery to life within the limited timeframes of an eight-week production schedule from design to installation, with each of the planets orbiting independently.

As part of this project, Selfridges engaged a film production company to record each stage of the creative process. This involved installing a series of time-lapse cameras within our workshop to capture the construction process from first steps to completion and client sign off. Following this, a second set of cameras was used to capture the window installation itself.  The completed film is on display in a separate window of Oxford Street’s Selfridges store until after Christmas. Keep scrolling to see the video! Look out for the Artem production team standing back and enjoying a well-deserved cup of tea after a long overnight install. 

Ritchie Beacham-Paterson, Artem’s Supervisor on the project, said: 'Aside from the narrow timeframes, one of the biggest challenges we faced was to create a model of such size and scale that could work reliably and smoothly for the multitude of hours it needed to run – i.e. all day every day for three months – while not compromising the visual impact that this needed to make.  It was therefore crucial that we had all aspects of, not just the aesthetics, but also the precise workings of this, locked off at a very early stage.'

Once the design and build stages were completed, our team then had to undertake the mammoth task for spraying the orrery to achieve the high-end chrome, reflective gold and rose gold finishes. This required a total of eighteen litres of paint materials plus eight litres of chrome paint – equivalent to the amount required to spray an average-sized car!

The orrery has received considerable attention from both the press and passers-by, and our client has advised us that it has become something of a ‘selfie’ magnet with the Oxford Street crowds. 

Watch the making of video below

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The magnificent Orrery stands proudly at the start of our Oxford Street run of windows, gently orbiting within its own universe. We knew we could rely on the expertise at Artem to deliver a prop element as extraordinary as this.

James Barnett

Production Manager, Selfridges

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