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Elements of Design for VM Part 2: Line

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Welcome to Part 2 of our Elements & Principles of Design Series where we will be discussing the Element ‘Line’. How to understand it. How to apply it. And of course, lots of pretty pictures of displays that harness its power, to inspire and delight.


A drawing is simply a line going for a walk.

– Paul Klee


About Line:

A line is a mark or stroke long in proportion to its breadth. Lines are normally considered in terms of marks such as those made by a pencil or rows such as rows of houses or soldiers. A common characteristic is that it connects two points and can lead us (or our viewpoint) towards or away from one of these points or ends.

Lines can be straight, curved, thick, thin, continuous, broken, jagged, diagonal, vertical, horizontal and the list goes on.


How we use Line:

A line can be placed in a drawing or space as a solid physical item. It can also be formed as a line of sight where the viewer interprets a number of elements which are placed in such a way that the eye connects them.

Line is a powerful element used to make connections or a sense of direction or even used to create a mood. A soft, wide translucent line may create a relaxed and fluid mood while a straight, long and thin line may capture an aggressive or energetic atmosphere.

When we compose a window or display we can link the different elements by thinking about surfaces and objects as being part of a continuous line. This consideration applies equally from smaller elements such as props or accessories to larger elements such as mannequins or tables even up to built in objects such as walls and backdrops.


1. This window display is an excellent example of the use of line to create an energetic, playful mood. The strong diagonal lines of rope draw the eye upwards and away to create movement. This effect is enhanced by a second line of the pants which seemingly fly up into the air out of the suitcases.

2. Here the strong horizontal line of the tree branch is softened by the delicate, meandering line of yellow mushrooms and foliage to create a more balanced composition. The second, perpendicular line of foliage winding down to the foot of the mannequins connects the separate elements in the display together visually. The designer has employed a clever use of the bright yellow colour to tie in to the clothing on the mannequins, picture this composition with mushrooms in any other colour and the effect would be lost.

3. A stunning example of visual merchandising in this jewellery display, where the designer has created a strong graphic feature using two-dimensional lines around three-dimensional products. The display works as a cohesive whole, despite the petite size and large quantity of the jewellery products, by framing and grouping them together.

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4. A clever use of lines to represent faces in this minimalist product display, which highlights and enhances the merchandise – glasses – with very little cost or fuss. A perfect example of the concept ‘less is more’.

5. This window shows how powerful and eye-catching different types of lines can be. Here the thick vertical black and white lines create a bold statement and are the only design feature in this monochromatic display. The placement directly in the centre of the window divides it using the rule of thirds and makes the lines and mannequin feel like they’re leaping out at the viewer.

6. Angular lines created by the coloured backdrop and the poses of the mannequins are softened by a fluid, curving line of spheres. The red dress on the central mannequin creates a vertical line of colour which breaks up the white in the background and increases the feeling of energy and modernity.

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7. The sinuous curved line of the mannequin’s pose in this window enhances the diagonal line created by the boxes ‘flying’ from her hands. The curving lines of the ribbons floating through the boxes soften the composition to create a playful, feminine atmosphere.

8. Picture this display with a mannequin standing straight with her hands by her side and the effect would be lost. This composition works in large part because of the diagonal line created by the mannequin’s pose which creates a sense of naturalism and relaxed glamour by contrasting with the straight planes of the backdrop and canvas.

9. This row of mannequins is elevated to another level by tipping each mannequin progressively more on to its side to create a line of bodies, drawing the eye all the way along to the shoe on the outstretched leg of the last mannequin.


Stay tuned for Part 3 of our series where we will discuss ‘Shape/Form’, how to understand and apply it when creating a display and explore examples of its use in real life.

In case you missed it here is:

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

Keen to learn more about Visual Merchandising?

Check out our Visual Merchandising Training Courses.





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