For the first time ever, Tiffany & Co. is hosting a one-of-a-kind exhibition at Fosun Foundation in Shanghai. Entitled Vision & Virtuosity, it invites visitors to experience the iconic brand’s legacy through six different “chapters” that unfold as you walk through a mind-bending lair of digital screens, innovative jewelry displays, and historically significant moments from the archives – including Audrey Hepburn’s original Breakfast at Tiffany’s script.
Savoir Flair recently had the honor of interviewing the man who is responsible for it all, Richard Moore. As Tiffany & Co.’s Divisional Vice President of Global Store Design and Creative Visual Merchandising, Moore was tasked with creating an exhibition that allows visitors to experience the Tiffany DNA in new and innovative ways. Take a closer look inside the Vision & Virtuosity exhibition in the gallery, above, and read on for his illuminating insights.
Your job sounds extremely cool, but we can’t say we know exactly what goes into it. Can you give us a download on what your job entails?
My responsibility is the expression of the brand across all the visual touch points. This includes overall store design and architecture, including all the interior elements, along with the creative development for our windows, jewelry presentation and artwork, and events and exhibitions for Tiffany & Co. stores worldwide. Tiffany is one of the most visually recognized brands in the world, so to be contributing to the brand’s creative expression is the most exciting job I could ever imagine doing.
Visual merchandising has a distinctly psychological component to it. How do you tap into consumer desire? What makes someone strolling by a Tiffany & Co. display stop for a second look?
A Tiffany window evokes an experience inside the Blue Box – an experience inside the world of Tiffany & Co. There’s something almost magical about the windows, and the sense of wonder and desire we all know and understand when we look into a shop window that almost defies imagination. A window needs to be eye-catching, whether in its simplicity or element of surprise. My predecessor, the late Tiffany Creative Director Gene Moore, was quite visionary in setting the precedent – not only for Tiffany, but retail windows generally – in synthesizing a brand’s DNA to express a distinctive style.
How did you end up in this role? What was your background like before you worked at Tiffany & Co.?
The visual arts have always been at the center of my creative passion, which is what led me to train as a theater designer. What I realized, though, was that I was too analytical for pure theatrical design – I have a left brain/right brain blend that lends itself far better to using theater within a retail context. I began my career in visual merchandising in 1999, initially working with The Conran Shop in London before moving in 2003 to Liberty London as Head of Visual Identity. My six years with this iconic retailer helped shape my experience and prepare me for my role at Tiffany & Co.
How do you translate a legacy brand that is so richly steeped in New York City’s history for other markets?
The Tiffany windows have long been an open invitation into the world of Tiffany. From the inception of the very first store in New York City, the windows have always acted as a public gallery, telling a New York story through the lens of Tiffany with exquisite detail and craftsmanship. We are always pushing the boundaries of creativity, creating installations that engage passersby in unexpected and imaginative ways.
The exhibition you are hosting in Shanghai covers 180 years of Tiffany’s unique history. What are the most important stories you are telling? What do you hope visitors walk away understanding about the brand?
We spent a lot of time thinking about the ideas of vision and virtuosity, and what they mean as important narratives for Tiffany. And we realized we needed to bring both of these values to the design of the exhibition – vision in the form of a well-thought-out narrative that tells the Tiffany story in an emotional and powerful way, and virtuosity through beautifully designed spaces and displays that are crafted with as much care and artistry as our jewelry.
We have created an experience that goes far beyond a historic retrospective. Visitors will step into the magical world of Tiffany, where they can discover and explore each chapter. We want them to absorb the information in an organic and immersive way, experiencing our story rather than simply reading their way through it.
What are some of the rarest pieces that will be on display?
One of the rarest pieces in the exhibition is the ‘Tiffany Diamond’. This remarkable yellow diamond travels very rarely and only on the most important occasions. Charles Lewis Tiffany had the vision to acquire such an unprecedented gemstone and entrusted its cutting to his brilliant craftsmen, depending on their virtuosity to bring out its inner flame. It’s the perfect metaphor for everything we believe in. We’ve placed it at the very end of the exhibition like an impressive exclamation point, and I think people will be really drawn to it, both for its history and its incredible beauty and fire.
Why are you holding the exhibition in Shanghai? Why is this location important?
This exhibition is a powerful chapter in our 180-year history. It honors our legacy while also looking boldly to the future. We decided to tell our story in Shanghai because it’s such a vibrant city with a rich cultural heritage as well as a global capital with worldwide influence.
What are some of your favorite aspects of the exhibition? Which components were most challenging to pull off?
The opening chapter of the exhibition, the Tiffany Blue room, is a fascinating way to tell the story of this iconic color, one of the most important visual cues of our brand. Even though the room is dedicated to a single color, we were able to include many different gemstones in the displays, including aquamarines, tanzanite, blue tourmaline, Montana sapphires, blue diamonds, and moonstones. We recreated window displays inspired by Gene Moore and essentially shipped them off in crates to Shanghai, and each window features really beautiful blue jewelry. It makes a very strong visual statement right from the beginning.
I think people will also appreciate the Tiffany Blue Book chapter. We went back to our very first Blue Book and looked at the breadth of styles, craftsmanship, and pure artistic genius that have spanned nearly 200 years of these incredible creations. I was peripherally aware of the immense body of work, but to see these pieces side by side, how they evolved and reflected the styles and events of the times over two centuries – that was mind-blowing. And there’s the Diamonds: Miracles of Nature section, which is literally like a river of incredible diamond jewelry that flows through the space.