This is a real treat! A while ago I received an email from an instructor in India, who also teaches interior design and visual display. She graciously sent in some pictures of her students as they work on their projects!
The class is run by the Government Polytechnic for Women, it had 13 students who learned various techniques in Open Displays, Window Displays, and Small Scale Exhibitions. Below are two projects the students completed. They were allowed to choose their own merchandise and plan a theme accordingly.
Here are the girls setting up for their first project.
They chose stuffed animals as their merchandise to highlight for this Princess themed bed!
Cute class photo!
A window treatment in the works
India is well known for their use of vibrant color!! The theme for this display is Spring and the merchandise is women’s clothing. Since the girls did not have dress forms, they cleverly dressed themselves as mannequins – love it!
Great job ladies! You prove that regardless of how limited your resources may be, you can still create eye-catching displays with the use of a little bit of imagination.
Thank You so much to your instructor Aeti Arora Singh for sending in this story.
(all images via Aeti)
Here is a great question from a new reader:
I just stumbled across your blog as I was doing last-minute prep for my interview with Macy’s tomorrow for a Seasonal Visual Associate. I don’t have any formal studies, but have had some creative experiences in merchandising, floral event design, styling and photography as well was retail sales experience.
Just wondering if you have any tips or input on what to expect for the first interview.
Here’s what I wrote back:
Really emphasize your “hands-on” experience in the areas that you mention. Skills in styling, floral design, etc transfer over into merchandising because you have trained your eye on what looks good and creating optical balance. Explain what you learned in retail sales, I’m sure you paid attention to how the sales floor was laid out, and which areas are the prime selling areas in the store (It’s always the front).
Visual Merch. and Window Display are “artsy” hands-on jobs. You can’t be afraid to get your hands dirty or move around store fixtures when called upon. You need creativity, organizational skills, and good time management, and it doesn’t hurt to be self-motivated. This is what I tell my students and what I would look for in a potential employee.
I started at Macy’s as a part-time Xmas trimmer as well. If you have a portfolio showing creative work you’ve done that’s a plus. When I applied many, many years ago – I didn’t get the regular permanent position because of my lack of a portfolio even though I had all kinds of experience. The guy with the portfolio, who was an artist got the position over me. The manager called me up a few months later and offered me the seasonal part-time position. I took it and worked really hard to learn how they did things. I was the only seasonal trimmer they kept once the holidays was over.
Best of luck to you!
I heard back from J and was told she did not get the seasonal position but was contacted for an interview for a full-time position instead!! That is wonderful news and I sincerely hopes this works out, as I could tell from our email correspondence J has a real passion for this kind of work!
Most jewelry stores are dainty little boutiques. Not British jewelry designer Solange Azagury-Partridge! Keeping in line with her unique jewelry line, she follows a very similar aesthetic with her new flagship store she designed herself.
To the student who asked me if going monochromatic was too bland – I think this picture clearly shows it’s quite bold:
Check out this ceiling:
I love, love, love this display case:
This store itself is a visual display, the space has become the brand. Most retailers don’t utilize this idea enough.
(images via: The Cool Hunter)
Hey Folks, do you know someone you would consider a rising star in our field? Perhaps it’s yourself? It’s not too late to nominate them for PAVE’s (the Planning and Visual Education partnership) annual Rising Star Award.
This award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated vision, creativity, and talent in the retail environment. Retailers and design firms can nominate any individual under the age of 35, who works in retail design, visual display, or contract design, and is a proven leader amongst their peers.
The finalists and winner will be recognized during the PAVE Gala, to be held on December 8 in New York.
The deadline is October 1. Go to their website here to download a nomination form. And while you’re there check out their other competitions recognizing student achievements.
(rising star image via: Brain Cafe)
Let’s talk about windows for the next few posts, especially since this blog is called I Do Windows, I figured I finally better get those lesson plans up here!
There are bad store windows:
and there are good store windows:
(these cakes are all made from paper!)
Stores use windows as a sales and advertising tool. Whether they are large like a department store or simply small, a well dressed window display not only attracts shoppers but also enforces the retailer’s image. This is the one marketing tool you don’t have to pay extra for, because they are a part of the store’s architecture.
Whatever reason you use to create your windows there are a number of things you have to consider:
- The type of window
- The best way to group merchandise
- The use of a theme
- The use of props, lighting, graphics, and signage
The size of the window you have to work with will affect what you can achieve. There are two types of windows, closed windows and open back windows.
Closed Windows: You find these most often in department stores. They resemble a room, with three solid walls and an entry door. They are the most fun to dress!
You really need to sit down and plan these types of windows well as they can become “showstoppers”! They often times require lots of merchandise and props to fill them up.
From the customer’s viewpoint you really only have to pay attention to the front because they can only be seen from that angle.
Open Back Windows: These windows have no back wall, but may have side walls. Some retailers prefer them because they let in lots of natural light and they make the interior of the store visible from the outside.
You have to pay attention to all the angles when dressing this type of window because they can be seen from all sides, both inside and outside the store.
Customers also have access to this type of window (meaning they can walk up and touch the display), since it is not enclosed in a room.
Here are a few other windows you may come across: Angled Windows, Corner Windows, Arcade Windows, and Shadow Boxes
Here is a great article I found online from the publishers of Step Inside Design. The article is written by Ina Saltz, and is titled, Step Out Through the Glass, Extravagantly. She interviews visual display artists of Bergdorf Goodman in NYC – Linda Fargo and David Hoey.
Window Display in New York is very competitive to say the least! Here they explain a little about their thought process, creative influences, the army of creative people it takes to do their windows, and their backgrounds. Please take a look at the article, it will give you a great perspective on what it is like to work for one of the giants in the industry.
(Window: Bergdorf Goodman 2009)
The Store Study Assignment is meant to get you out there looking and paying attention to the world of display. Take this opportunity to see what others are doing in our line of work. What looks good and what doesn’t? Don’t just visit the beautiful high-end stores, take a look at some of the really bad junky stores, it is at these stores where you can really put into practice what you have learned. Ask yourself if you could change anything in that store what would it be?
The aim of this assignment is to begin to train your eye in store design and to look for visual elements that are both good and bad in a variety of situations. This assignment is to be turned in the following week for each class, with the exception of Spring Break. You may choose any establishment you want, but please mix it up. Don’t keep going to clothing stores, visit grocery stores, hardware, restaurants, trade shows, pharmacies, etc…..LOOK AT EVERYTHING!
The Questions are all reflective of what we have gone over in class lectures, now is your time to apply it to the real world:
What does the store design tell you about the retailer?
Describe the store’s target customer?
Is the merchandise displayed in an accessible manner for the customer?
Is it stock piled or minimalist?
Is the ambience fitting for the store’s image?
Does the lighting highlight the merchandise?
How is color used in the store?
Are the windows pleasing and drawing you into the store?
If you could make changes in the store what would they be?
You do not have to write a book, but I am looking for more than a one sentence explanation! If you are absent please feel free to email me your assignment. And have FUN, this is not meant to be a chore!
Students often think window dressing or visual merchandising is for clothing retailers only. All stores need to display their merchandise. Can you think of some other establishments where your skills could be put to use?
Here’s a clue for one idea:
But there are so many more…..in fact everywhere! The skills you acquire doing visual display can be used for interior design, set design, even event planning. Start looking around as you go about your daily errands and pay attention to the displays you see in the bookstore, grocery store, trade shows, big box retailers. What looks good and what doesn’t? The hardest part for me as a teacher is not teaching you about the principles of display: balance, symmetry, color, etc…..it’s trying to teach someone how to have that “eye” for style and good taste.
Why is it that some people can throw together any outfit and still look good? Why is it that some interior design work is a mish mash of found objects but still looks well-edited and really pulled together. I’m sorry kids but having that “eye” is not something that can be taught, but you can train yourself to be able to pick up on what is aesthetically pleasing and what is not.
How you do this is? – by paying attention, everyday to what you see! I understand beauty is subjective, but good taste is not! I’ve seen lots of designs that don’t fit my aesthetic but were done really well. This is why I give you that store study assignment to complete every week. The only way to learn is by doing.