At VM+SD's recent International Retail Design Conference in San Francisco, an "Iron Merchant Challenge" pitted five teams of attendees against one another to dress a mannequin using a predetermined list of components.
The interactive timed visual merchandising session was led by Joe Baer and his team from ZenGenius (Columbus, Ohio). The teams, led by VM+SD Editorial Board Members, were challenged to create a visual display with a “south seas” theme, inspired by the Fairmont Hotel’s Tonga Room where the judging of the displays, and the IRDC party, took place that evening.
The winning Blue Team injected a sense of humor into its “Catch of the Day” display by hanging its mannequin-turned-mermaid upside down inside the display unit. Floating fish, bright visuals and a secret ingredient concealing the mannequin’s face also caught attendees’ attention, and ultimately, their votes.
Similar to the “Iron Chef” television show, each team had 50 minutes to conceptualize, design and complete their display which included a mannequin, donated by Seven Continents and Patina V, and the secret ingredient – a plush orange octopus – revealed at the start of the show.
Teams could also wrestle for items at the props table, including rocks, live and fake foliage and flowers, fabrics, fish bamboo and seashells, which were donated by Decorative Novelty (Brooklyn, N.Y.), elevations (South San Francisco, Calif.), Gordon Keith Originals, (Columbus, Ohio), Seven Continents (Toronto), Patina V (City of Industry, Calif.), Victory Corps (New Hope, Minn.), Yankee Trader (Columbus, Ohio), ZenGenius (Columbus, Ohio).
As party-goers entered the IRDC party that evening, they were asked to vote on their favorite display, which ranged in theme from serene, nature-inspired aesthetic to one named “octopussy.”
Members of the winning Blue Team included: team leader Bevan Bloemendall, Timberland; Priscilla Soto, Pacific Gateway Concession; Amy Tauchert, Timberland; Terra Berry, ProImage Installers; David Curtis, Timberland
The additional competing teams were:
Pink Team - Led by Jan Tribbey, Aveda; Rosaline Bernstein, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf; Kaya Cigdem, Zorlu USA Inc.; Valerie Valmas, Tricarico Architecture and Design; and Becky Arrington, Pratt Corp.
Yellow Team – Led by Jeanine Penna, Neiman Marcus; Lollie Petrie, Pacific Gateway Concession; Emily Terlau, Architectural Group Intl.; Jeff Woods, ProImage Installers; Nichole Rehfuss, Little
Purple Team – Led by Linda Cahan, Cahan & Company; Liz Behlke, Alaska USA Federal Credit Union; Beth Garland, Pictura Graphics; Dana Postma, Family Christian Stores; Dirk Dieter, dieterdesign
Red Team – Led by Rick Burbee, Sears Holdings Corp.; Amy Garrigan, Family Christian Stores; Nik See, Continuum; Nicole Tricarico, Tricarico Architecture and Design; Charles Feeny, Havon Design
Look for “Iron Merchant” to return to the IRDC in 2007 when it is held at the InterContinential Buckhead in Atlanta. For more details, visit www.irdconline.com.