If there is one name we as visual merchandisers should all know it’s Martin M. Pegler. I’m an avid fan and user of his many textbooks and was pleasantly shocked when one day he wrote me with some comments on my student’s work, I had posted on this site! ”Mr. Pegler knew of my little site”, I thought to myself, WOW! I of course wrote back and since then we had been emailing each other back and forth, as I asked him if I could profile him for this site.
He has written or edited over 80 books all related to display and design, and does not suffer from writer’s block. I know this because I asked, as I sometimes suffer from this , I’m excited to hear he’s working on a new book around the subject of being green and display work.
Mr. Pegler is an inductee in the Visual Merchandising/Display Industries Hall of fame and has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Professionals for Advancement of Visual Education (PAVE), He has also been a professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology and is a popular lecturer in the US, Europe, and Asia. He is a wealth of knowledge and is so generous in sharing it!
When I asked how can a display person apply their talents in other areas he said, “In my textbooks I write about the numerous areas where a good display person could blossom out, like event planning, staging fashion shows, point of purchase, or stylist for TV – it is endless what one can do with a creative talent, imagination, and the hands to do things with. Just say I can do it – and go ahead and do it!”
Some students are completely fixated on getting a degree in display and some on getting display experience, where should their focus be – the education or experience?
“EDUCATION is most important! Whether you go to school, take courses, or just devour history, culture, art, architecture and all the rest of the seven lively arts. To be a really good display person you really should know all about the history of art, architecture and costume. They are all related to the changing, but un-changing fashions; there is always something a little retro in them. By all means GET EDUCATED and KEEP LEARNING; absorb the arts and culture around you and behind you. Though I was a college professor for over thirty years; I must acknowledge that some of the BEST display people I knew were self-educated. They had this burning need to learn. If we as educators, can instill that need and love to learn, we have done our job. If it is possible to continue in a formal education, take it! It will help one focus on the areas they should learn about.
What have you learned over your lifetime that you would like to share with the younger generation?
“What I have learned over the many years I have been a part of this industry, is that you never can know enough! As I said before – things change – but you can always find something from the past in the new. Keep your mind open to what is new, absorb – let it become part of you. Use your own brain as a computer, store everything in the “My Documents” of the mind. It will never let you down.”
With the popularity of e-commerce how can the visual display person continue to entice shoppers to come into the stores? “E-commerce is flat and up till now, two-dimensional. Displays are three-dimensional and can have a far greater appeal. It is up to today’s display people to harness all the available technology and create something exciting and vital. We must stop them as they walk in the street with attention-getting, eye-pleasing, sensory and emotional displays. You can’t as yet do all that on the computer screen!”
What are some of the common mistakes new store owners make when setting up their floor plan and how can they avoid them? ”I think many retailers are not taking advantage of what good window displays can do for them, in helping them to stand out from the crowd. Good displays are an all-important opening statement, and announcements that also tell the shopper who and what the retailer is and stands for. It is BRANDING!! – and is much cheaper than other forms of advertising.”
I’m currently reading Mr. Pegler’s latest book Visual Merchandising and Display – Sixth Edition, it’s published by Fairchild Books, and as Mr. Pegler says, I’m learning so much. This book is over 400 pages, and encompasses everything you could ever want to know about visuals. I think it’s an excellent book for the beginner but the seasoned pros will find a lot of new information as well. I have quite the mini library of display books, but if you are a student who can only afford to purchase one book , then make it this one. 31 chapters is a lot of studying to do , with review questions and discussions at the end of each chapter. Store planners and interior designers who work in retail spaces should really add this book to their library as well.
I would like to thank Mr. Pegler for taking the time to answer my questions, for sharing his knowledge, and for being so patient with me, you are truly a legend.
[Editor's Note: I'll be gone for two days at a work conference, so posting will be light this week. I am excited to get up the next set of group project photos once I return. In the meantime I ask you what is good display? The Godfather of display Martin M. Pegler answers this in one of his MANY books:]
“A good display is the result of Planning, Coordination, & Co-operation!
A display person must know, in advance, when a particular display will be installed, where it will be installed, and what will be shown and promoted. He or she needs some sort of a schedule (which can be altered if need be) or, at least, a master plan.
The execution of a good display comes from knowing in advance what trends, what colors, and what type of merchandise are scheduled for future display so that some though and preparation can be made for the eventual visual presentation of that new merchandise. It also requires a close working relationship with the retailer, buyer or merchandiser, marketing people, and display manufactures and vendors.
Good displays come from the display persons knowledge of what is available and where, what is in stock or in the warehouse, and what can be borrowed or “begged” from neighbors or institutions in the community. It requires an awareness of what is going on in the community, in the city, in the country, and in the world, and then being able to draw on that awareness to create attention-getting image-building, and merchandise-selling displays.
The display calendar is a well-thought-out schedule that keeps displays and merchandise moving freely in and out of windows and on and off ledges. A change of windows can be set for every 10 days to 2 weeks, but should never be longer than one month.”
Christmas at Chanel, 2010 – image via Moodboard