Window dressing and shopfitting are crucial elements for brands and retailers alike. Here are ten tips from visual merchandising expert Brigitte Beeler.
The Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dali had a special, almost obsessive, relationship with clocks. Who could forget his famous 1931 canvas, ‘The Persistence of Memory’, where pocket watches melt like Camembert cheese on Catalonia’s Portlligat beach? This disturbing landscape, redolent of the passage of time and death, must have tickled the unconscious of quite a few watchmakers! But Salvador Dali also took an interest in shop displays.
- A photo of Salvador Dali by Denise Bellon © Les Films de l’Équinoxe Fonds Photographique Denise Bellon and Salvador Dalí, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dali, DACS, 2014.
In 1939, for example, he was invited, along with a number of other surrealist artists, to dress a window for the New York department store Bonwit Teller.
The Spanish painter incorporated concepts of day and night, and peopled his windows with bizarre mannequins.
The experiment was short-lived. Customers complained, and the store replaced the mannequins, to Dali’s evident fury, since he shattered one of the windows – whether this was an accident or not remains unclear.
In 1939, Salvador Dali was invited to dress a window for the New York department store Bonwit Teller. It ended poorly.
This amusing anecdote appropriately illustrates the fascinating, but also controversial, power of the shop window. Their appearance is a critical factor for all watchmaking brands and retailers, all over the world.
It has also become a discipline in its own right – visual merchandising – which is taught around the globe with a view to identifying that indefinable ‘something’ that will bring the clients in off the streets. And Dali was probably a pioneer, albeit an unwilling one.
Brigitte Beeler, head of the discipline at the Centre d’Enseignement Professionel in Vevey, Switzerland, has consulted for Piaget, Ebel, IWC and Zenith. Here is her ten-point vision of visual merchandising.
- Brigitte Beeler, head of visual merchandising at the Centre d’Enseignement Professionel in Vevey.
1. Visual merchandising is...
The act of displaying and showcasing a product, whether in a shop or on the internet.
2. What draws customers’ eyes to the window…
Modesty, authenticity and discretion: the contemporary codes of luxury, in other words. Plus an artistic setting, and an element of emotion!
3. The key ingredient in a successful display…
At the risk of repeating myself, it’s... emotion. There must be an interaction between the product and a human being, not just a typical consumer; personal consideration, not a one-size-fits-all approach.
4. The fatal mistake…
An overcrowded window. It destroys all legibility and visibility. Consumers have had enough of hard selling and information overload.
5. If you had a boutique, it would look like…
It would showcase a concept dear to the brand’s values, with a scenography that would not be out of place in an artistic installation.
6. A brand that is a visual merchandising expert…
Hermès, no question. They are brave enough to showcase their differences while remaining authentic.
8. Any pet hates…
There’s a tendency among luxury brands to imitate each other; unfortunately their boutiques all end up looking the same.
9. A word of advice…
You must be able to deconstruct your brand in order to reconstruct it; demarcate in order to reinvent. Don’t be trapped by classicism, take risks.
It is an essential element in any strong, cross-disciplinary strategy.
Source: Europa Star December - January 2015 Magazine Issue