I Do Windows

The Legendary Martin M Pegler

Posted in Interviews, Learn from the Pros by Arcadia on October 15, 2011

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.


Million Dollar Decorators

Posted in Learn from the Pros by Arcadia on July 5, 2011

Lately I’ve been hibernating as I have a small mountain of books to get through this summer.  Some are school-related as I am acquiring my Masters in Green Building, and some are work-related as publishers have sent me advance copies of various visual merchandising textbooks.  I don’t require textbooks for my class, but I do teach from them and encourage my students to purchase the good ones for their own personal library.

Currently I’m reading Martin Pegler’s 6th Edition of Visual Merchandising & Display.  So far I like it, in fact he reached out to me a couple of months ago and I promised to get back to him to interview him for this site!!!!

But, I’m digressing…..in addition to my book addiction I’m also addicted to Million Dollar Decorators on BRAVO TV (in the USA).  Anyone else?  Don’t be ashamed to admit it :)!  These decorators/characters are campy, – as a contractor I find myself asking would I ever work for any of them?

Nonetheless, I am often referring to interior designers for inspiration and lessons in design because that’s what we as visual merchandisers do too, but on a much smaller scale and faster timeline!  I like to compare us to soap opera actors.

Soap opera actors have to learn lots of dialogue in a relatively short amount of time , rehearse, dress, perform – then do it all over again differently the following week.  Well it’s the same for us in the design world.  We have a short amount of time to build a vignette only to have to tear it down in a few weeks to do it all over again.

We could very easily do the job of an interior decorator if we had that amount of time and that large of a budget, but I don’t know too many that could do ours!  I have a designer friend who is seething at the moment as he read this!!  Do designers have the skills for our job, of course  – what frazzles most of the ones I’ve worked with is pressure and tight deadlines, as evidenced by my new favorite show!  Plus, we move our own props which we most likely hand-made ourselves!

This is not to bash designers –  I love them, even though I don’t always like working with them; they often have killer ideas, will always push the client to get more money, and will keep you entertained for hours when they get haughty with the customer – don’t believe me, then tune in.

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