John Lewis has announced plans to mark its 150th anniversary with a series of commemorative events.
An interactive exhibition in the retailer’s flagship shop on London’s Oxford Street will sit at the heart of the celebrations. Visitors will open a door into the retailer’s past via the draper’s shop where it all began on 2 May 1864.
Following a dimly lit corridor past the original book that includes the first day’s takings, guests will find themselves in John Spedan Lewis’ office, the setting for the birth of the John Lewis Partnership.
After an installation which tells the story of how a WWII bomb threatened the future of the company, the exhibition will explain the ‘craft of shopkeeping’. The work of many celebrated designers and brands is recognised, as well as the retailer’s own textile mill where a bespoke weave will fill the exhibition floor and run over the ceiling. Visitors will exit the exhibition with a glimpse into ‘how we will shop, live and look in the future’, through a collaboration with the Royal College of Art.
In a first for John Lewis, the flagship branch will also open its roof to London. Working with Tony Woods, Royal Horticultural Society National Young Designer of the Year, the rooftop will be transformed into a tranquil space.
John Lewis will also offer a assortment of product created exclusively for the anniversary by designers and brands including Dualit; Alessi; Vitra; Antoni & Alison; Jaeger; Ted Baker; Lucienne Day; Barbour; Alex Monroe; Jo Malone; Liz Earle; Links of London and Silvercross.
In a series of firsts, its fashion department sees the launch of Orla Kiely’s first menswear range, exclusive to John Lewis. The electricals department has teamed up with the Henry Hoover brand to offer John Lewis customers the opportunity to buy a ‘John’ or a ‘Lewis’ Hoover, and in its home department, the retailer’s own design studio pays homage to the brand’s design history by taking key heritage prints from the archives and using them on new, modern products.
Across the country John Lewis shops will be joining the celebrations, which start on May 3, with a host of regional activities and, working in partnership with Barnardos, each shop will be supporting local charity initiatives. That week the retailer will also launch a special 150th anniversary television advert to kick off its celebrations.