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Window Dresser Extraordinaire

The latest news and trends from the wonderful world of visual merchandising. Jano Dawes and her team share their passion for VM.

Elements of Design for VM Part 7: Texture

In this instalment of our design series we introduce you to the element ‘texture’.

Texture is something we forget – it makes outfits look very expensive. You can do a monochromatic outfit, if you’re afraid of things that are more colorful and printed, and still create interest.

– Stacy London

About Texture:

Texture is the surface quality of an object. A rock may be rough and jagged. A piece of silk may be soft and smooth, and your desk may feel hard and smooth. Texture also refers to the illusion of roughness or smoothness in a picture.

How we use texture:

Texture can be physical (tactile) or visual. The texture is related to what material is used and can influence the mood of the composition.

Physical texture is the actual texture of an object. Designers may create real textures to give visual interest or evoke a feeling. An object may have a rough texture so that it will look like it came from nature or a smooth texture to make it look glamorous.

Visual texture is an extremely useful tool for a visual merchandiser in that it is made to look like a certain texture but in fact is the illusion of texture printed or drawn on a surface.

1. The warmth of this industrial timber texture interplays cleverly with the high end merchandise in this window.

2. Rich, handmade textures of the coloured cotton and the contorting, organic texture of the gourds creates a warm and inviting window display.

3. This delicate lace patchwork becomes ethereal rather than kitsch when used en masse.

4. The smooth, reflective surface of the silver balls makes this window display feel contemporary and lighter than air.

5. The rich velvet texture contrasts with the glossy egg props for a high end, luxurious atmosphere.

6. Simple scrunched paper creates interest when used to create a textural backdrop in this window.

Coming up next in Part 8 of our design series we will be learning all about ‘scale’ – stay tuned!

Catch up on our previous instalments:

Part 1: Introduction to the Elements and Principles of Design for VM

Part 2: Elements of Design: Line

Part 3: Elements of Design: Shape/Form

Part 4: Elements of Design: Space

Part 5: Elements of Design: Light

Part 6: Elements of Design: Colour

Love to learn more about Visual Merchandising?

Check out our Visual Merchandising Training Courses.

Elements of Design for VM Part 6: Colour

Part 6 of our skill building series will introduce you to the design element ‘colour’ and examine hot to use it when visual merchandising.

Colour is uncontainable. It effortlessly reveals the limits of language and evades our best attempts to impose a rational order on it. To work with colour is to become acutely aware of the insufficiency of language and theory – which is both disturbing and pleasurable.

– David Batchelor

About Colour:

Colour is intrinsically linked to light, with colour appearance and impact often affected by lighting conditions. Most people see the world in terms of colour but we can create designs in black and white as well as the colour spectrum. Colour symbolism varies with perception, culture and location. The colour red for example can at once symbolise passion, danger, anger, love, sex, power, cheap, Valentine’s , Christmas, Patriotism or Sale.

They key aspects of colour are:

Hue – referring to the colour name eg. red, blue, orange.

Value – referring to how light or dark the colour is

Chroma/intensity – referring to the purity eg. saturated or dull.


A Color Wheel is a tool used to organize color. It is made up of:

  • Primary Colors – Red, Yellow, and Blue. These colors cannot be created by mixing others.
  • Secondary Colors – Orange, Violet, and Green. Created by mixing two primary colors.
  • Intermediate Colors – Red Orange, Yellow Green, Blue Violet. Mixing a primary with a secondary creates these colors.

How we use Colour:

Colour is very important in creating the mood or emotional impact of an item or space. Colour choices can change the appearance of surrounding colours or be affected by their own context. Visual merchandisers will often choose a particular colour palette to create a certain atmosphere in a display or provoke an emotional response from viewers.

Warm colors are on one section of the color wheel and give the feeling of warmth eg. red, orange and yellow.

Cool colors are on the other side of the color wheel from the warm colors and create a feeling of coolness. eg. blue, violet and green.

Analogous colors are colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. eg. red, red orange, and orange. When used together they reinforce each other and create a feeling of harmony.

Complementary colours are opposite each other on the color wheel. eg. red and green. When placed next to each other they bring out the intensity of each other. They are usually strong, demanding and vibrant and will create ‘motion’ where there is none. Reducing the intensity will soften this effect eg. pink and mint green.

Monochromatic is one color used with different values and intensity. eg. pale blue, blue and navy. This can create a restful, easy to accept setting for merchandise.

Neutral colours (black, white, beige and brown) make good backgrounds for products because they don’t compete with what’s on display. White or beige tones can appear either contemporary and fresh or bland and sterile depending on how they are used. Black and white may be neutral when used separately but used together they create a strong statement.

1. An analogous colour palette of pink, red, maroon, purple and blue create a feeling of harmony in this fashion store window.

2. Complementary colours of blue and orange demand attention when combined.

3. A neutral grey background makes the white fabric of the dress appear brighter, whilst the green colour of the  cactus props brings out the intensity of the ruby red coloured accessories

4. A monochromatic colour palette of yellows in this display unifies the various objects whilst the vibrant hue chosen creates a feeling of sunshine and optimism.

5. The monochromatic green backdrop and accessories add a gentle, feminine freshness to the strong impact of the contrasting black and white colours of the clothing in this window display.

6. This neutral colour palette creates a luxurious and calming effect in the window of this beauty store whilst the gold adds a touch of luxury.

Stay tuned for the next installment of our series, Part 7: Texture.

Catch up on our previous instalments:

Part 1: Introduction to the Elements and Principles of Design for VM

Part 2: Elements of Design: Line

Part 3: Elements of Design: Shape/Form

Part 4: Elements of Design: Space

Part 5: Elements of Design: Light

Love to learn more about Visual Merchandising?

Check out our Visual Merchandising Training Courses.

The Excitement of Easter

We had the undeniable pleasure of creating an enchanting Easter Wonderland for our client to complement their in-store seasonal Easter promotion. Customers were given an ‘egg passport’ to follow a trail of giant eggs decorated by local community stakeholders on display throughout the centre. Once complete, delighted punters could return to the activation and collect a chocolate bunny, vote for their favourite egg from the trail (with the top 5 groups receiving an in-store gift card) and take part in some free Easter-themed craft activities.

We created gorgeous Easter themed centrepieces for the craft tables using moss bunnies, sweet peas and pastel eggs.

A stunning archway dressed with pretty florals welcomes visitors into the pop-up space to begin their egg hunt.

A pretty-in-pink market cart housed the station for guests to vote for their favourite egg from the egg trail.

Colourful stools packed a punch in the craft area of the Easter themed setup where participants could relax under the life-size tree.

This tree created a magical environment for children to play in, especially when dressed with hand decorated easter egg ornaments.

Pastel garden chairs with smaller egg arrangements gave shoppers a place to relax and enjoy the surroundings.

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Elements of Design for VM Part 5: Light

In our previous posts we have discussed line, shape/form, and spaced; Part 5 focuses on the ever important light as an element of design.

In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present.

– Francis Bacon

About Light:

Light is essential to any visual merchandising composition as it is the means by which we can see our surrounding environment. The three main types of lighting we focus on in visual merchandising are:

Ambient light – the general illumination the subject. It is indirect and soft, reducing contrast and shadows and is achieved through natural and artificial light sources, as well as reflection from surfaces.

Task light – illuminates a small, specific area.

Accent light – used to add highlight, drama and focus. This includes directional lighting or floor lighting.


How we use Light:

The feeling of a design can be completely transformed by altering the intensity, placement and colour of light which makes it a very powerful tool. And wherever there is light there are of course shadows which can be a valuable tool in the visual merchandisers creative toolbox.

When creating a visual merchandising display designers must consider:

Glare – can be either direct, coming straight from a light source, or reflected. Glare should be minimised wherever possible.

Contrast – a difference in illumination level between two points. We need contrast to distinguish one thing from another. Too much contrast can limit our ability to see fine detail and cause eye fatigue.

Uniformity – referring to the overall space. Too uniform is not usually desirable; this can create a bland space without interest and highlight.

Colour – describes how the colour of a light source affects the colour of surrounding objects.

1. The designer has used washes of bright colour in a jewel tone palette of cool turquoise, lapis, emerald and amethyst to add a contemporary, high end feel to this window display.

2. A strong accent light heightens the tension and drama of this visual merchandising display.

3. Washes of red ambient lighting combine with the neon light feature in this window create a unique and memorable Christmas composition.

4. Warm white lighting recessed into the risers in this window creates an inviting mood.

5. Light fittings are the hero of this window but the ambient white light keeps the overall look soft.

6. The shadows created by the directional lighting are as much a part of the composition as the shoes and add visual interest to this display.

Stay tuned for Part 6 of our series where we will discuss the element ‘Colour’.

Catch up on our previous instalments:

Part 1: Introduction to the Elements and Principles of Design for VM

Part 2: Elements of Design: Line

Part 3: Elements of Design: Shape/Form

Part 4: Elements of Design: Space

Love to learn more about Visual Merchandising?

Check out our Visual Merchandising Training Courses.



Autumn Winter Trend Forecast 2017


“Florals? For spring? Groundbreaking,” rings in the ears of every person who has watched The Devil Wears Prada – ever. In fact, the cooler season’s subversion of the trend from pretty prints to full-blown head to toe floral dressing with radical colouration, scale and a dark, glamorous mood may well be the most groundbreaking trend this year. The look works equally well for interiors and is the seductive evolution of the tropical style which has reigned supreme.



This brand of purism is anything but minimalistic. The antitheses to all the bold patterns, slogans and ruffles on the catwalk, this trend harnesses subtle detailing to elevate the most utilitarian of garments. Tactile fabrics play with volume in a spectrum of muted, utilitarian colours that blend seamlessly with your existing wardrobe and embody the motto ‘less is more’.



Woven textiles and organic materials such as wood and leather perfectly embody a look which combines worldly influences with a down-to-earth warmth of home. Ceramics and live greenery combine with collections that tell a story and evoke memories of travel or embrace other cultures. On the catwalk this look translates to floaty white shirt dresses that are both beautiful and comfortable and especially suited to our local climate.


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