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The role that color plays in an interior store setting is much more than simply providing something pleasant for the shopper to see. While everyone has a favorite color, it is important to understand the rationale behind color choices. The right color choice can immediately create a mood and reflect the image you are trying to establish. Listed below are color choices and the silent messages they send:

White: Cold, sterile and by itself does not enhance either the image or the product displayed. When combined with another color it can create a striking balance to a color scheme.

Combined with yellow – cheerful and vibrant
Combined with blue – Crisp, cool and a great choice for resort merchandise
Combined with tan – subdued and elegant
Combined with black – rich and sophistication

Black: depressing by nature, it can create a gallery effect and feel. Great when used inside a cooler with halogen lighting or in backdrops that are spotlighted.

Red: Exciting color that is aggressive and warm. Can be used as an accent color on a wall and relays a sense of urgency. Best used for boutique or theme shop or as a seasonal color selection.

Orange: This warm earthy color would be perfect for a shop sporting a natural environmentally friendly image and product. In softer shades of salmon would work well for most retails shops and neutral in nature.

Green: Color of the month & my personal favorite (not only because it is the color of money). It is an excellent choice for a restful setting and highlights all floral in a harmonious color palette

Blue: The color preferred by most people it could be a soothing backdrop to most merchandise.

Purple: A dramatic color choice in its darkest hue and sweet and sometimes neutral in its lighter shade of lavender. Excellent when combined with blue to create a gray-blue-lavender.



Display Hints
Good design should not be confused with taste, which involves personal choice or preference. Visual merchandising should be judged on a set of principles that include balance, emphasis, proportion, rhythm and harmony.

1) Balance, equality of weight in the display is distributed evenly. There is Asymmetrical Balance as illustrated in figure 1A and Symmetrical Balance in figure 1B


2) Emphasis or focal point as in floral design it is the dominant or central point of a display. Everything else in the display plays a secondary or subordinate role. It may be a piece of merchandise, a prop, a concept or features. Emphasis can be achieved through a variety of techniques; the most common of which are size repetition, contrast and unique placement.

a. Size: When you walk into a crowded room with unfamiliar people, the first person you notice is usually the tallest one; similarly in design of a visual presentation, dominance is easy to achieve with something large.

b. Repetition: The eye quickly focuses on the repetitive element. Picture large oak leaves in a window display all blowing in the same direction and one maverick leaf challenging the forces of nature.
c. Contrast: Another means of portraying dominance or emphasis is with color, texture or concept that is in complete contrast to the other elements of the display. Picture fine jewelry that is normally displayed with fine satin fabric backdrop, then the contrast would be to display the exact jewelry in rope, burlap or some other rugged texture.

3) Proportion the comparative relationship of design elements to each other. The scale of the product being displayed in a window dressing is very important based on how the window will be viewed. If you have walk by traffic you may use smaller product in the display. If you are 20' or farther viewing distance than your window displays will have to hold large product and props to have any visual presence. The relationship of the items in the display should be proportionate. Size of the space in the window, showcase, or interior should be considered when creating the appropriate proportion/scale.

4) Rhythm, when all of the elements of a design are properly located so that the eye travels smoothly from one part to another, then, flow, movement, or rhythm have been achieve. It is very important to have the eye take in every portion of the display before it focuses and rest on the focal point or area of emphasis. This emphasis zed area should contain your hottest selling item or the item of highest value.

5) Harmony, a unified picture is created when all elements in a design properly blend and uniformly present a “look”. Combining too many “looks” can agitate the consumer's eye and actually turn them away from the product.

A chance to get noticed in the industry. A chance to show your creativity. A chance to participate and win display awards every month. (submit your entries at [email protected])

Above: Levis store, Linking Road,
Bandra (W), Mubai

Left: Fathers Day window display theme
Dockers, Select City Walk Mall,
Saket, New Delhi

Courtesy Bob and Susan Negen | WhizBang! Training, Phone: 616-842-4237, Fax: 616-842-2977,
To sign up for your FREE Tip-Of-The-Week, Visit:

Tip #136 Small Changes Lead to Big Things

We recently received an e-mail from the owner of A Polished Image in New Windsor, NY with this story…

“I own a salon and when I get a client calling to ask about prices I don't like to just say $25.00 and then hang up. Sometimes we get busy and find ourselves doing it anyway, so I began to make a conscious effort to explain why I charge what I do.

This really paid off, a few weeks ago when a call came in. "How much for a fill?" I took the time to explain in detail what we do and what makes us different from every other salon. We got the appointment and it turned out to be a woman that owns a local copy place.
This one woman has referred more than 10 people to our salon in 3 weeks!

My tip is: Treat the person on the phone just as you would if they were in your store… and one day they will be!”

Bravo! A wonderful lesson in great selling as great customer service. But when you look closely, this story is about much, MUCH more than giving great customer service on the phone. Here are seven additional lessons I can find in this wonderful story…

- Be willing to change how you do things. You'll never get different/better results doing the same old things the same old way.
- Be deliberate about your success and make conscious choices that take you closer to where you want to end up.
- Understand specifically what's special and different about your business that sets you apart from the crowd.
- Be able to explain to your customer the BENEFIT TO THEM of your special, unique differences. Why does it matter to them that you're different?
- Treat every customer like your most important customer regardless of how they look, talk, walk, or how much money you think they
have. You never know who they are or who they know. Plus it's just good manners and common decency.
- Ask for referrals.
- Big time success comes from the geometric explosion of doing lots of little things right. Big time success rarely comes from hitting a “home run”.

This one woman has referred more than 10 people to our salon in 3 weeks!


Learn Visual Merchandising in 5 months


A.R.E. Store Fixture Awards

The store fixture association honored its own during its annual retail design competition.
The Association for Retail Environments (A.R.E.) – the association formerly known as the National Association of Store Fixture Manufacturers (NASFM) – honored some of its own during its annual retail design competition earlier this year.

Here are some of the winners.

CELLAR 360, San Francisco -wine display gondola; Fixtures: Trinity Engineering Inc., Rohnert Park, Calif.; Photography: David Wakely Photography, San Francisco


MICHELIN ON MAIN, Greenville, S.C. - tire-topped displays; Fixtures: Opto Intl., Wheeling, Ill.; Photography: Fred Martin Photography, Simpsonville, S.C.


VIRGIN MEGASTORE, Manchester, U.K.-gig-style merchandising cases; Fixtures: Resolution Interiors, Somerset, U.K.; Checkland Kindleysides, Leicester, U.K.; Photography: Keith Parry Photographers, London




ISBN #: 1-58180-939-5
by Jeff Fisher

This bold new book presents "50 redesigns that transformed stale identities into successful brands." Here is a behind-the-scenes look at the identity redesign process in 50 fascinating case studies. You can see the outstanding results that designers around the world have provided for their clients, including one-person businesses, retail operations, major corporations, restaurants, educational institutions, performing arts groups and more. Over 400 illustrative elements -- before and after versions -- provide the inspiration for a solution to any identity crisis.



STORES & RETAIL SPACES 3 (paperback)
ISBN #: 9780823074969
by the Editors of VM+SD

The paperback third edition of this popular series, with 300 full-color photos features 59 award-winning new and renovated stores, department stores, specialty shops, mass merchants, shopping center kiosks, food courts, sit-down restaurants, specialty food shops, supermarkets, convenience stores, entertainment facilities, service retailers, and manufacturers showrooms. Every project was chosen by The Institute of Store Planners (ISP) for excellence in store planning, visual merchandising, innovation, graphics and lighting. Draw ideas and inspiration from more than 30 top retail design firms from around the world as they provide exciting, inviting spaces for retail establishments of every major kind.

Original price: $35.00
Now for: $20.00



Customer purchase decisions are made statistically on the spot, in-store, by over 70% of the brand´s target audience. By placing the advertising in-front of the product in the store aisle, these proven graphic solutions have already enabled international brand managers and regional chains to maximize their in-store point-of-purchase campaigns, dramatically raising product sales from 10% - 25% on average to over 300% on impulse products every time.


Odor-ads next? (

Rebh plans to expand his reach into international markets, and new floor ads, including animation, sound and odors, are in development, but not everyone sees the value of floor-based advertising.

Dr. Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys, a New York brand and customer-loyalty consulting company, sees it as a variation on a familiar theme.

Floor ads might work for showcasing new products, Passikoff noted, but for most consumers they are yet another voice in a growing cacophony of advertising information that inundates consumers every day.

“The acid test is whether you see increased profitability,” said Passikoff. “If you can show that on a consistent basis, that's great, but if not it's just another brand clamoring for attention in an already crowded media ecology.”


Richard Rebh, chief executive of Floorgraphics, stands surrounded by the in-store floor advertising developed by his seven-year-old company. Seventy percent of brand purchase decisions are made at the point of sale, according to Rebh.


Drama Queens (Source:
They're pouty, peppy and full of glamour. Today's mannequins say, “Look at me!”
By Lauren Mang

Drama is everywhere in fashion, from the gauzy, girly, boldly colored looks of spring to the “fierce” feathered frocks of “Project Runway” winner Christian Siriano. And fashion's ebbs and flows are turning the tide this season in favor of mannequin collections with more glamour and drama.

“There's a shift from generic, headless body forms in favor of mannequins with more personality,” says Victor Johnson, director of visual presentation for the New York-based specialty apparel chains Ann Taylor and Ann Taylor Loft. “Mannequins with heads or unique poses can be utilized as branding elements alongside storefront and fixture design.” The fashion retailer's spring windows, a nod to 20th Century sculpture studio Curtis Jere USA, employed a bunch of active poses and a proprietary head developed by Adel Rootstein (New York).

But why the shift? It wasn't that long ago that retailers were giving up the presence of a mannequin altogether, using simple merchandising tables and hangers to present clothes.

Glamour and drama have always been Adel Rootstein USA's modus operandi.
Its Garden of Gods showroom featured several of its classic lines, including "Supermodels," "Pizzazz" and "Secrets."


By Glenda Shasho Jones

A cataloger's job of presenting merchandise is second in importance only to selecting the right merchandise. Readers decide in seconds whether they're going to continue to read about a product or move on. The amount of information readers comprehend “at a glance” isn't limited by their brains; it's only limited by what we put in front of them. Even those interested in a product will skip over it if they don't understand it or they're not “sold” on it.

What and how you show product in your catalog makes all the difference in the world. The following list contains the most frequent mistakes made by catalog merchandisers.

Mistake No. 6: Poor Propping or Styling

Sometimes the best intentions backfire when propping and styling actually wind up undermining product presentation. There are several reasons why this happens:

1. Overuse of props: Sometimes it's fun to have a lot of options, but too much just takes readers away from the product.

2. Cheap props: Photo shoots need adequate prop budgets if that's what's needed to achieve a desired look. Cheap looks cheapen photography. Plastic leaves look plastic. Better to have fewer, but better quality props.

3. Unrelated props: Sometimes creative talent (perhaps in the attempt to be creative) use props that make no sense to the reader and may actually be unclear or contrary to what's being sold. This becomes confusing and disorients the shopper.

Mistake No. 7: Poor Model Selection

Most experienced catalogers have learned that good models pay for themselves in spades. It's usually the smaller or newer companies that don't understand and/or underestimate the effect of models. These catalogers tend to use less experienced models either because they don't know any better or because of the expense. However, there are too many reasons to use higher-level models, such as the following:
They know how to move, so they're more productive during the day.
They know how to interact with the camera, so they give you better poses.
They know how to take direction better to accomplish your goals.
They can provide more versatility with looks and behavior.

They usually look better in print; that's why they're getting the bigger bucks!
Ultimately, this translates into increased productivity and sales.

Mistake No. 8: Underestimating Merchandise Shot Size

Size matters! Readers want to see the largest depictions of your merchandise within the density requirements you have. This means product size takes precedence over white space, copy, headlines and the variety of design treatments. You still can create features based on squinch (square inch analysis) and other merchandising factors. You still can devote space to selling copy, important elements, such as icons, and even editorial copy.

It doesn't mean your readers won't find great merchandise from a small shot; it means you'll get better overall performance by upsizing the merchandise. Catalogers can keep the same density and still up-size product shots by 5 percent or 10 percent.

Mistake No. 9: Lack of Appropriate Aspiration in Presentation

The key word here is “appropriate,” as it relates to creating and displaying an environment that your customer feels is desirable and achievable. To do this, it's imperative that catalogers understand their customers and that the visual interpretation of this aspiration is understood by the creative talent painting the picture. Ask: “What's my customer's aspiration?” Is it:
Achieving more style or dressing more comfortably?
Getting more service and information, or simply getting the best price?

And by the way, the more a catalog tries to show it all, the more diluted the presentation.

Mistake No. 10: Inadequate or Inappropriate Copy

While a picture is worth 1,000 words, we still need vocabulary to communicate what photography can't. There are a lot of missed opportunities and mistakes:

1. “Fluff” copy: Wordiness and overuse of non-related copy is often perceived by readers as a “waste of time.” Except in isolated situations, it's not the romance or stimulation intended by the cataloger.

2. Missing information: When details that help a purchase decision (i.e., care or performance information) aren't included, people don't buy.

3. Lack of “voice”: There's value when we create differentiation and interest in a catalog though words reflecting brand “personality.”

Glenda Shasho Jones is president of New York-based consulting firm Shasho/Jones Direct. Reach her at [email protected]




  Hi, As an American, I enjoy reading your newsletter since it focuses on Visual Merchandising abroad.
I am in the Visual Merchandising business for over 20 years. I worked for the best: Barney's, Saks and Bloomingdale's. I recently resigned from Bloomingdale's as Visual Merchandising Manager in New York and Florida. Currently I am freelancing. I would love to share some of my work and experiences. I would be interested in contributing both photos and written work. You can review some of my work at:
Regards, Lee Harrison.


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