What Secrets Is Zara Home Hiding From Us?
How the brand’s stylists make everything look so good.
Updated Sep 20, 2018 11:47 AM
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When Colin King got the call (or, more accurately, Instagram message) to style a recent Zara Home campaign, he thought it was a joke. “This woman slid into my DMs,” says the set designer. “I thought it was too good to be true!”
We get the excitement—here at Domino, new Zara Home editorials are akin to Beyoncé album drops. They don’t look like the cold, overly styled catalogs many big-box retailers put out. Instead, each campaign falls somewhere between a dreamy escape and a cozy, lived-in home. These are no staged sets either. They’re real-life locations, ranging from a Greek island mansion to a Tuscan villa to a cool Copenhagen apartment—that last one was the scene for King’s shoot, for the fall A Life of Simplicity collection.
“My challenge was to express a narrative without it feeling like a corny vignette,” says King. The space was Danish architect Danielle Siggerud’s house, which creative director Rosie Seabrook found through mutual friends. Add those arched windows and textured plaster walls to anything and, as King points out, a story instantly falls into place.
“It’s the idea of being aspirtainable—aspirational but also attainable,” explains King of the campaign’s appeal. “If you wait for the customer to ask for something, then you’re too late. It’s about showing them how to use pieces in their space, mixed with furniture that maybe Zara doesn’t sell, but they can think, Oh, I have a similar piece I can use.”
He worked with Seabrook and an international creative team to achieve that goal with just four days of prep work (yes, you read that correctly). They pulled inspiration images from the likes of Belgian architect Vincent Van Duyson and designer Axel Vervoordt, and combed Copenhagen for vintage pieces to balance out the new launches. They ended up spending around 15,000 euros—about 70 percent of the furniture was sourced, as Zara specializes in decorative accents—on rentals.
If the aspirational part is linked to the drama of the surroundings, the attainable side is all in the details. It’s the glass carafe filled with water on a bedside table that’s really just a block of wood. It’s the Brutalist sculpture sitting right next to a $100 lamp (“I always look at shape first,” says King). It’s the kitchen counter littered with eggshells and ceramic mixing bowls of flour, positioned so it’s as if you’re peering into a family’s Sunday morning brunch. (“The kitchen was challenging for me because I’m not a food stylist—I don’t even know how to cook!” he admits.) There are always ideas to steal that go beyond “I want to buy this pillow”; these are photos you want to bookmark for design ideas.
The team shot the whole thing over the Fourth of July weekend, and the editorial went live a mere two weeks later. Styling the Zara Home editorial was a whirlwind experience, not that you would ever be able to tell, judging from the final result.
One of our favorite moments in A Life of Simplicity are the tablescapes. With fall entertaining on the horizon, we picked King’s brain for his tips on styling an effortlessly chic table. We’re happy to report that you can easily implement these, even if you don’t live in a plaster-walled Danish home.
“I don’t know if it’s the Ohio in me, but I love tablescapes with tablecloths,” says King. Not only are you protecting your surface, but it instantly adds some contrast to whatever dinnerware and glasses you choose.
Dine by Candlelight
Or at least by one singular taper candle. “I love Denmark because whether it’s breakfast or dinner, there’s candlelight,” says King. We’d guess this is a by-product of the fact that, in the winter, it gets dark there by 4 p.m., but the effect instantly creates an intimate atmosphere no matter where you live.
Don’t Buy That Matching Set
It’s how you get that relaxed, layered look. “When I was growing up, my parents would go to Macy’s and buy a bedroom set, a living room set, a china set…but I love mixing,” says King. Ditch the uniform glassware and opt for a combo of stemware and tumblers. Apply the same philosophy to your materials: Balance your recycled glass chargers with soft linen napkins.
Forget the Floral Arrangements
“One, cut flowers are expensive, and, two, they’re a mess to clean up,” points out King. Instead, scatter your favorite vessels about the table for a minimalist centerpiece that you don’t have to spend a penny on. Or if you must, use dried florals or branches.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner—why not make it a Danish-themed shindig?