VMSD - March 2012 - (Page 72)
Interview by Whitney Harrod
Fresh off receiving the PAVE Rising Star Award, Saks Fifth Avenue’s director of store design discusses the yin and yang of visual merchandising and store design.
What does it mean to be the reigning PAVE Rising Star? The evening of the PAVE Gala was one of the best nights of my life and a huge highlight in my career. As I mentioned in my acceptance speech, I wouldn’t be where I am today without all the amazing mentors in my life, many of whom were in that room. You came up through the ranks of visual merchandising before moving over to store design. What’s been the biggest challenge so far? My background is actually in interior architecture, so the bigger challenge for me was learning to work in visual. However, at Saks there’s a partnership between store design and visual, so the line differentiating the two can be a bit blurred. How does that partnership help you now as director of store design? In retail design, one really needs to have an understanding of both visual and interior design – particularly product merchandising standards. In working with the visual team, you can discover what does and doesn’t work and design to that. For example, you might have a nested table set for a handbag program. If the heights are different or if there’s not enough room for product, it’s not going to work. What’s your favorite trend on the retail horizon? The integration of technology for cross-merchandising between brickand-mortar stores and direct sales. This will provide a way to truly serve clientele and cover the ever-changing needs of the shopper.
Art: “I adore Jim Hodges and Janet Cardiff – their bodies of work are everevolving and tend to be experience-based, multimedia pieces that deal with various human emotions.” Architecture: “It’s a mix of old and new, from the Chrysler Building to High Line park and the modern sustainable villages in Orestad City, near Copenhagen, Denmark. Mountain Dwelling is a must destination for anyone interested in architecture and design.” Travel: “Europe – there’s such a mix of old and new worlds. I find it fascinating how the two work together or sometimes oppose each other.”
Best part of your job? Store design is the ultimate in brand experience as it spans the senses – sight, touch, sound and, sometimes, even taste and smell. It’s exciting to be a part of developing captivating environments on a daily basis. Most challenging? Managing design and construction schedules and merchandise layouts. It’s a balancing act that can ebb and flow – what may work one day may change the next when a business is moved or eliminated from a plan. What advice would you give to up-and-coming retail professionals? Keep your skill set as multi-channeled as possible. You need to select colors, materials and furniture; sketch and render (yes, by hand!); format presentations; create budgets; and be proficient in computer programs. This way, you can fulfill various roles and remain marketable. x
72 MARCH 2012 | vmsd.com
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of VMSD - March 2012
VMSD - March 2012
From the Editor
Vmsd Editorial Advisory Board
Serving Generation Y-Not
Retail Design Firm Resource Guide
Our Time Is Now
Made in the Shade
VMSD - March 2012