VMSD - November 2011 - (Page 56)
Interview by Whitney Harrod
The West Coast-based freelance window designer shares his love of realistic mannequins and why boutiques inspire his creativity.
How did you end up in the visual merchandising business? It was a fluke. At 16, I got hired at Nordstrom as a temporary stock guy in the men’s furnishings department. When a position opened up for the men’s trimmer (the person who irons the shirts and pins them on mannequins), I applied. A year later, I became a member of Saks Fifth Avenue’s visual merchandising team. Why did you start your own company, CM Squared Designs? There was a fabulous high-end jewelry store on Sunset Boulevard that had an interesting window, but I couldn’t tell what the brand was. So I did a cold call. I gave them a pitch and they liked it. I started doing windows for them in 2005, and I’ve been taking Los Angeles by storm ever since. You led the winning team at this year’s IRDC Iron Merchant Challenge. What was your strategy? Keep the brand – which this year was Timberland – first and all the other ingredients second.
Dream prop Mannequins from the Decter company’s 1980s ZaZu series. Dream product Anything couture Alexander McQueen. Maybe some of his runway pieces. Dream theme I’ve always wanted to do a jewelry window like the little ones at Tiffany & Co. where Marilyn Monroe would be eating diamonds.
What visual trend do you want to revive? Realistic mannequins in full force. Seeing a real person takes you directly into that fantasy. Realistic mannequins, either in a window or on the roof of my house, get people to turn their heads. As we enter the holiday season, which windows are you excited to see? Bergdorf Goodman’s. They’re always complete fantasy. What are some of the differences between working for boutiques/one-off shops and larger, chain retailers? There’s a lot more room for risk and being creative in a boutique. The stores I work with are willing to be a little edgy and provocative. I don’t think many department stores or big chains would go down that route. Rumor has it you might get a reality show, which would document your window artistry. What's happening with that? It’s been a long road. I’ve been signed with Authentic, and it’s been shopping. I’m interested in a show that’s about the process of creating windows from beginning to end in the fascinating world of mannequins, tight budgets and creating illusion. Many retailers are adapting digital into their in-store environment. Is there a place for technology in window design? I believe in keeping the tradition, but staying with the times. Incorporating digital would be fantastic but, unfortunately, it blows the budget sometimes. In metropolitan areas, people are bombarded with stimulation, so maybe less is more. But I’ve definitely got some ideas.
To hear more insights, visit vmsd.com for an exclusive podcast with ChadMichael Morrisette.
Can you share one with us? I have two projects on the drawing table right now. In one of them, I want to take a bunch of egghead mannequins and cut out the front half of their faces and inlay flat digital screens that would show runway scenes, signage or even a face. x
56 NOVEMBER 2011 | vmsd.com
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of VMSD - November 2011
VMSD - November 2011
From the Editor
VMSD Editorial Advisory Board
A Peak Experience
21st Century Facelift
New York’s Fifth Dimension
VMSD - November 2011