2011 VMSD Visual Competition Winners

Today’s visual merchandisers are using illustrations, repetition and layering to deliver the total package.
Posted June 20, 2011
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Nike and its roster of athletes have never failed to deliver an impressive show of photographic images, from the earlier days of Jordan sailing through the air to today’s King James throwing chalk powder into the air at the start of the game. But for the inaugural World Basketball Festival in New York last year, Nike added a twist to its graphic messaging by using tattoo-artist illustrations of current basketball stars. “They’re very stylized with super bold, fun colors,” says Damon Johnstun, creative director at LIT Workshop (Portland, Ore.), a retail marketing and manufacturing firm that collaborated with Nike on the project.

The artwork was turned into a graphics package for the store’s first floor, in addition to eleven 10-foot tall figurines (created in partnership with Additive Workshop) that hung inside the store’s five-story atrium. The full package, including a T-shirt destination and Jordon Brand shop-in-shop, earned it this year’s Best in Show for the 2011 VMSD International Visual Competition.

“The dimensionality is amazing,” says Robyn Novak, design director, FRCH Design Worldwide (Cincinnati), and a judge at this year’s competition. “They pulled everything together to create an encompassing story.”
“It’s the total package,” adds judge Joe Baer, owner, ZenGenius Visual Merchants (Columbus, Ohio).

Illustrate Your Message

While there’s been a trend in artistic, handcrafted visual presentations over the past several years, this year’s crop of winning projects shows an evolution toward a more illustrative style. “It’s a unique way to set yourself apart and gives you a true custom environment,” says competition judge Brent Hodge, owner/lead designer, Creative Thought (Cincinnati).

At Macy’s Herald Square, the department store partnered with designer Rebecca Moses to turn her colorful, whimsical fashion sketches into 20-foot-wide-by-9-foot-tall canvases that became the colorful backdrops for a series of windows. “She fills her showroom with personal sketches,” says Paul Olszewski, director of windows, Macy’s Herald Square. “We thought it was a great opportunity to reproduce them on a big scale.”

“I like the play with color and dimension,” says competition judge Kathy Tedorski, associate design director, Fitch (Columbus, Ohio).

A similar artistic style came to life at Holt Renfrew’s Toronto flagship, where Dilbert cartoon-inspired bubble text was used in a campaign celebrating corporate dressing. Each window display represented a different office cliché, such as “outside the box” or “passing the buck,” with desks and chairs as propping, along with the fashions.

“We put a twist on it to get people thinking,” says Tracey Peters, national visual manager, Holt Renfrew. “You want to entertain them.”

Mass Appeal

The repetition of elements, whether it’s a prop, merchandise or material, is another eye-catching tool that’s being used to make a statement. At Macy’s Chicago, a curtain of balsa wood airplanes helped draw attention to a spring display on white china patterns. In Mexico, Liverpool’s award-winning in-store campaign included a striking wall display of motorcycle helmets.

For the Vancouver Olympics, using mannequins in mass arrangements proved just the right element to help tell the color stories associated with Olympic gear being sold at Canada’s The Bay. “It creates mass without being overwhelming,” says Hodge.

Layer it Up

Adding dimension or layers to a visual story is another trend we’re seeing in today’s merchandise presentations.

For Macy’s “Rebecca Moses” windows, specific elements from the backdrops were turned into props and brought forward to create a 3-D effect. “We picked out things that could interact with the mannequins,” says Macy’s Olszewski. “It marries the product and the whole style.”

For a window campaign highlighting The Bay’s HBC Signature line, Ana Fernandes, creative design manager, says she created an icehouse environment using more than a thousand plastic, frosted cubes to resemble blocks of ice; LED backlighting in a blue hue; and frosted vinyl on the window glass. Wooden props, as well as amber-gel spotlights, added a layer of warm contrast to the cool January setting.

“Well-done lighting adds to the depth of the window. It makes something pop,” says Fernandes. “Take away the lighting and you lose the impact.”

That’s Entertainment

In addition to these award-winning visual tools, delivering the unexpected is another way to attract shoppers’ attention.

U.K. firm Green Room Retail Ltd. (Birmingham, U.K.) met the challenge of merchandising luxury cars for Mercedes-Benz’s holiday campaign at its London showroom by dressing them up as Santa’s reindeer. “With all the recent retail doom and gloom surrounding the everlasting recession, it was important to add some fun,” says Ross Adam, senior account director, Green Room.

“It’s so easy but effective,” says judge Jay Kratz, architect, senior design manager, store design, Luxottica Retail (Cincinnati).

And that’s the most sought-after prize of all.

First Place Winners

In-Store Storewide Promotions, First Place
Niketown, New York
“World Basketball Festival”
Nike, Beaverton, Ore.; LIT Workshop - Damon Johnstun, creative director; Christina Tomoso, design manager; Peter Morain, 3D designer; John Pendleton, 3D designer; Daniel Strong, 2D designer; Kyle Kendrick, 2D/3D designer

In-Store Apparel Presentation
Liverpool Polanco, Mexico City, Mexico
Liverpool Polanco Department Store
Iliana Davila, manager, architectural projects, Servicios Liverpool; FRCH Design Worldwide - Claudia Cerchiara, vp and project manager; James Lazzari, chief architectural officer; Young Rok Park, design director; HeeSun Kim, design director; Parke Wellman, project director; Rob Carey, senior designer; Deb Casey, planning and merchandising documentation; Ric Gerke, CAD production; Greg Smith, graphic designer

In-Store Accessories/Beauty/Shoes Presentation
Merrell, Central Stores Facility, Rockford, Mich.
Merrell Concept Prototype
Christopher Hufnagel, president, Global Retail Group for Wolverine World Wide Inc.; FRCH Design Worldwide - Monica Gerhardt, account manager; Scott Rink, project manager and director; Cathleen Bunker, senior designer; Lori Kolthoff, resource design director; Aaron Ruef, senior graphic designer

In-Store Home Goods Presentation
Macy’s on State Street
“Spring China Tables”
Jon Jones, State Street visual director; Kimberly Garner, State Street Home, visual

Non-Holiday Window Display: Theme
The Bay, Queen Street, Toronto
“Summer in the City Windows”
Ana Fernandes, creative design manager; Denis Frenette, general manager, ISM and visual presentation

Non-Holiday Window Display: Apparel
Macy’s Herald Square, New York
“Rebecca Moses”
Paul Olszewski, director of windows; Douglas Fowler, window manager

Non-Holiday Window Display: Event
The Bay, Queen Street, Toronto
“We Were Made for This – Olympic Vancouver Windows”
Ana Fernandes, creative design manager; Denis Frenette, general manager, ISM and visual presentation

Holiday Windows: Product
Mercedes-Benz Showroom, London
“Christmas”
Matthew Wrigley, Group Marketing Manager, Mercedes-Benz Retail Group UK Ltd.; Green Room Retail Ltd. - Ross Adam, senior account director; Ed Hodgson, designer

Holiday Windows: Traditional
Macy’s Herald Square, New York
“Yes Virginia”
Paul Olszewski, director of windows; Douglas Fowler, window manager

Temporary/Pop-Up Retail Space
The Body Shop, Goodwood Vintage Festival, West Sussex, U.K.
Pop-up Shop
Zoe Cook, PR manager, The Body Shop; Russ Roberts, account manager, Green Room Retail Ltd.

Award Of Merit Winners

In-Store Home Goods Presentation
Eger Shopping Mall, Karl Johan, Norway
“Nespresso – Coffee Capsuled”
Westerdals Studio 3D - Cathrine Hellandsvik, designer; Sandra Arvidsson, designer; Fride Severeidet, designer

In-Store Storewide Promotions
Macy's on State Street, Chicago
“Flower Show 2010”
Jon Jones, State Street visual director

Non-Holiday Window Display: Theme
Holt Renfrew, Toronto
“Extreme”
Alix Box, senior vp, sales and marketing; John Gerhardt, creative director; Tracey Peters, national visual manager; Susanne Shaw, Bloor visual manager; Holt Renfrew visual team

Non-Holiday Window Display: Theme
Holt Renfrew, Toronto
“Icon”
Alix Box, senior vp, sales and marketing; John Gerhardt, creative director; Tracey Peters, national visual manager; Susanne Shaw, Bloor visual manager; Holt Renfrew visual team

Non-Holiday Window Display: Theme
Holt Renfrew, Toronto
“You Better Work”
Alix Box, senior vp, sales and marketing; John Gerhardt, creative director; Tracey Peters, national visual manager; Susanne Shaw, Bloor visual manager; Holt Renfrew visual team

Non-Holiday Window Display: Theme
The Bay, Queen Street, Toronto
“Ice House - HBC Signature Windows”
Ana Fernandes, creative design manager; Denis Frenette, general manager, ISM and visual presentation

Non-Holiday Window Display: Apparel
Macy’s Herald Square, New York
“Fall Fashion”
Paul Olszewski, director of windows; Douglas Fowler, window manager

Non-Holiday Window Display: Event
Macy’s Herald Square, New York
“Flower Show: Spring Is in the Air”
Paul Olszewski, director of windows; Douglas Fowler, window manager

For information on entering next year's competition, email editor Anne DiNardo at anne.dinardo@stmediagroup.com.