Monday, March 18, 2013

Courses - AMM Core: AMM 270 - Visual Merchandising / Store Design

There are a few different classes that I have very much enjoyed during my time at Cal Poly. Under the “courses” pages, I will talk about 4 of these, including an AMM Core course, an AMM Option course, a Support Course, and a General Education course.
I do warn in advance these are a bit long.

AMM Core (this entry)
AMM Option
Support Course
General Education

AMM Core:
AMM 270 - Visual Merchandising / Store Design
Understanding of design principles, color theory, space, and lighting in relation to display areas and interior design of stores. Analysis of their use in merchandising of goods and customer appeal. Written and oral projects. Application of a computer graphics program. Concurrent enrollment required.

     This class was very interesting to me because I learned how people do visual merchandising, and the elements that go into creating an excellent display. In this class, we had three group projects that utilized our teamwork, Adobe Illustrator, creativity, and writing skills to analyze and create visual displays.


     In doing these assignments, I learned about the elements of visual merchandising, and how to create an effective display. I learned more team working skills in order to work effectively with others to accomplish a goal. A challenge we had to overcome for our final project was assuring everyone was on the same page so we could push forward with our project. Some of us liked some ideas for our store concept, while others didn’t think it would turn out well. When we all came together and decided which theme would be best, we became very enthused and worked together to make that theme come alive.
     I’m also proud of the Illustrator work that I did for these assignments. These projects took many hours of detailing to create a finished look. In the end, it was definitely worth it when you could step back and see the completed piece.

     I find that I like visual merchandising, and nowadays I find myself looking at layouts of stores, displays inside the store, and window displays to see how brands are marketing to their customers. Some window displays don’t make much sense, and others draw me into the store, which is of course what they aim to do. It’d be interesting to do visual merchandising as a profession; there are endless possibilities that you can create for a store!

Assignment 1
Our first assignment was to go out as a group and find a window display we liked, recreate it in Adobe Illustrator, analyze and evaluate the display, and decide what we might do to better the display. For our window display, we chose H&M in January 2012, at their Chino Hills, California location.

Window Display

Illustrator Recreation
(Lavender represents floral print fabric from original window display.)

Window Display Analysis
     The display basics for the H&M window display used for this project is an exterior store front with a straight window display located on the side of the retail store. The display contains two mannequins on each side, which are separated with a shelving unit that contains merchandise found in the store. This type of display is a related merchandise display because it contains merchandise found inside the store that would be paired with one another nicely. It encourages customers to find all the pieces found in the display to create a complete and polished look.
     The display theme is set by the window display’s semi-realistic setting. It shows the customer how the merchandise could be used in an everyday setting and has a semi-realistic environment with a shelving unit that could possibly be in the house of the consumer. It is also semi-realistic because the retailer did not have the resources to create a fully realistic environment in their window display. The window display has a closed back rather than having an open back in which customers could see past the display and look into the store. This helps customers to focus on the display rather than looking past the display to see what is inside the retail store. The color scheme used in this window scheme is a split complimentary scheme seen with the use of greens, yellows and pink which is a tone of red. There are also a lot of neutrals seen in the merchandise because they are the most worn colors of the season. The green on the mannequin’s pants creates a focal point and draws the attention of customers to the mannequin on the right. The color of the black mannequins also creates a contrast against the clothing worn on the mannequin and makes the colors of the clothes stand out. The pop of green seen on the pants and in the floral merchandise, gives a cool and earthy feel to the display for the upcoming spring season. The balance seen in the display is informal balance. If the display were folded in half the purse at the top of the shelving unit and the purse at the bottom self would now allow proper alignment of the display.
     Repetition can be seen in the use of hangers and the shelving units in the display. The hangers in the display are carefully placed in a consisting and even manner. The shelves in the shelving unit also create even repetition with the 3 horizontal shelves. The clothing found on the hangers help create alternating rhythm with the use of colors. The use of contrasting colors on the clothing in the hangers creates alternating rhythm from light to dark colors. The constant pattern creates repetition. The floor boards at the bottom of the display add repetition and texture. The lines in the floor boards are consistent and keep repeating throughout the display. The floor adds texture because it helps break up the simple background with several wooden boards of the same color. Texture can also be seen in the golden shirt found on the shelving unit. The shirt gives a contrast by creating a metallic texture in the display. It helps draw attention from the simple textures of the other merchandise found on the shelving unit. The lines used on the shelving unit helps move the customer’s eyes across the display to the different merchandise found in the display. This creates a contrast against the vertical lines seen on the floor boards of the display.
     The visuals seen in the display includes lighting. The lighting used in the display is seen at the very top of the window display and cannot be easily seen by customers. The lighting in the display is incandescent secondary accent lighting. The lighting seen in the display gives off a yellowish tint that directly ties in with the earthy feel of the display because it is associated with the color of sunlight. The accent lighting creates shadows in the displays and helps create an accent point in the display. The lighting is most prominent during the evening around 5:00PM, but in the mid-afternoon, around 3:00PM to 4:00PM, the lightning is not very effective.

Evaluation of the Store Display
     The display uses a straight window display, which is correct even though the door is not on the same side as the display; however, the window does run parallel to the street. The window does use the technique of related merchandise display to separate the accessories and the other items that go together as a collection. The small space given in the window display does create a semi-realistic setting because they are presenting the merchandise and leaving the rest to imagination.
     The two sides of the display appear as if they are equal in weight because the balance between the two mannequins and the items in the middle. The purpose of informal balance is to make it look like its symmetrical; however, if u cut a line down the middle and compare them they are not the same. The use of repetition and rhythm is correct because of the multiple shirts separated on the hangers. They used floorboards that have panels to create vertical lines and some texture with the shiny surface reflecting light. The use of accent lighting was used incorrectly. Accent lighting should be highlights that make the certain part of the display sparkle. The lighting appeared to show the mannequins but it was very dull and could barely be seen.
     The color scheme used in the H&M display is consistent with the winter color direction according to WGSN. The use of green, pink and yellow are colors used in the pantones pallets for wither 2012. Showing the quality merchandise in the window attracts attention than seeing the price makes the customers feel they can afford fashion which is directly related to their brand concept. When researching their age range for their customers it was found they offer different concepts for all ages. In the window displays other than the one we featured they were all in the age range for young women. This does not reflect all of their concepts for different ages as the information that was found on their website.

New Window Display Suggestions
     Overall the display was well put together; it was easy to tell H&M had a visual merchandiser, but there were things that could definitely be improved. The first thing was the lighting. There were only two lights coming from the ceiling directly down onto the mannequins. This does put a highlight on them, but doesn’t give any lighting to the rest of the display. To change this we did a crossover lighting effect that made the display overall brighter.
     The far sides of the display seemed empty, so we added a small dresser that matched the shelving with various accessories including bracelets, necklaces, and bows. There were no accessories displayed, and we felt this was an important aspect to add to the display. Behind the dresser we added a uniquely styled lamp, which filled in the background area as well as giving more lighting to the display. In addition, we added two strips of wallpaper that maintains formal balance and adds repetition with the use of the season’s floral print. (The lavender in the new display illustration represents the floral print fabric in the original window display.)
     On the other side, we added a full length mirror because people like looking at their reflection, and it would be an interesting way to attract the attention of passersby. There was a blouse that was displayed on the mannequin as well as on the clothes rack. This was a poor choice because instead of displaying two different blouses they used the same one. The blouse looked good on the mannequin so we kept that, and displayed a different blouse on the clothes rack. The top rack of the shelf felt unbalanced, so in addition to the bag we added a stack of shirts as seen on two of the other shelves.
     On the small front shelf, there is a small stand with descriptions and prices of the items. This was hidden behind the small purse, which made it almost unknown to anyone who looked. We moved this to be next to the purse instead. The wall behind the display seemed too bland, so we added a neutral color to give it a warmer feel. Although we kept many of the original elements of the display, these additions really maximize the space given in the window display.

Assignment 2
Our second assignment was to create a window display for Valentine’s Day. We chose the theme “Distance Means so Little… When Someone Means so Much” because we wanted to do something that you don’t always see being displayed for the holiday.

Theme Board

Window Display

This piece was done in Adobe Illustrator. With the help of one of my group mates for some parts, I was in charge of creating this and making sure it looked really nice.

Window Display Analysis
     Our theme board represents a long distance relationship. The color theme we decided to compliment for both rooms is a Monochromatic Color Scheme. The man’s room is blue-green and the women’s is red. The category we chose for the Valentine’s Display is Home Furnishings. To display home furnishings we used a Related Merchandising Display. The display features a Promotional Display since it is a valentine’s display. We decided to show off the furniture using a couple in a long distance relationship. By using a couple to display the furniture it shows the importance of every day necessities. The couple is talking to each with the use of computers and sitting on the beds. The display also shows how new technology of long distance relationships can be relatable to the consumer.
     Each item in the display is being sold on the floor, which makes it an Environmental Display. The display shows Asymmetrical Balance and the beds as the dominant feature. The lines on the bedspreads show a pattern of horizontal lines. Repetition is shown by having duplicates of the furnishings to make them more dominate. The display uses a Closed Back Window to highlight the furniture. The lighting used is incandescent lighting, which creates warmth and a focal point for highlighting the furnishings. The mannequins shown are realistic mannequins. We decided to have realistic mannequins because we feel it can better demonstrate our Long Distance Relationship Display.

Final Project
Our final project was big, and took a lot of effort and skills from each member of our four person team. We had to completely create a store, from start to finish, including concept, products, the floor plan, and window displays. We decided to create Lily’s Closet, a princess-style store for little girls.

     Our brand’s core concept is princess related merchandise, which provides an environment for young girls to explore their creativity. The store is a boutique that offers everything for princess dress-up. We want our customers to be able to come into our store and find everything they need and desire in princess dress-up. Our brand is unique because our customers can find princess dress-up year-round instead of just around Halloween time. Also, our store offers a runway for the girls to model dresses with friends and family. Our product category is children’s niche dress up clothing. We have princess style dresses, tutus, tiaras, necklaces, bracelets, and shoes. Our target customers are parents of young girls who are between the ages 3 to 10 years old.
     Our store is called Lily’s Closet. The name of the store is to imply an idea of playing in a friend’s closet. “Lily” is the name chosen because it is a fun and cute name that little girls can easily relate to. In addition, Lily is a name that a child can relate to as a friendly environment and pronounce easily. We wanted a name of a store where little girls can tell their parents about it and will want to go in a warm and inviting way. Our brand colors are Hot Pink, which we will call Party Pink, Light Pink, which we will call Princess Pink, and Lavender, which we will call Lily’s Lavender. These colors are used for the building exterior and interior, shopping bags, some interior decorations, and some furniture.
     The store will be located at Victoria Gardens, which is an outdoor shopping center. The location of the store is North Mainstreet, Suite 200 in Rancho Cucamonga. This area is a very friendly place for children because there is a children’s playground, children’s train ride, and many other types of attractions for children. The location is the perfect place to have a boutique specifically for little girls to play dress up and purchases princess type merchandise because it is a place that already attracts children.

Brand Logo

     The brand logo was developed with the idea of the brand’s core concepts. We incorporated the brand colors of Party Pink, Princess Pink, and Lily’s Lavender. A crown is added on top of the word “closet” to reflect the idea of a dressing up like a Princess. Lily flowers are used to reflect the actual name of the brand. The store front, cashier area, shopping bags, and hang tags will all have the brand logo.

Theme Board

     The theme board is appropriate for the Spring 2012 season for Lily's Closet because it reflects the idea of creating clothing for little girls to be able to play around and have fun wearing. In addition, it imposes an idea of having a Castle Tea Party during spring and gives a purpose of why clothing at Lily’s Closet is made.
     The mood of the theme board is fun, playful, and cheerful. The context is the concept of a Castle Tea Party, which is to imply an environment where little girls can dress up and play pretend around in a tea party setting at a magical castle. The colors for the Spring 2012 season have an analogous color scheme with shades of pink, purple, and blue. The texture is fluffy tulle, which is created with the use of the little girl’s dresses.

Store Front

     Our store front is consistent with our theme and brand because both of the windows display events that young girls might participate in when playing dress-up. Dressing up to play tea party is very common for little girls. They also have creative imaginations to pretend as if they were a princess in a castle. Both of the displays show our concept of creating an environment where young girls can explore their creativity. The store front creates a warm and friendly feeling that will attract young girls to want to come into the store. They are also very consistent with the Spring 2012 Theme Board of Castle Tea Party.
     The store front shows an arcade front design so we can showcase two different window displays. The store exterior element displayed is outdoor lighting. The lights are placed around the sign so our store can be seen from a distance.
     In the first window display, the castle and unicorn represent a fantasy type setting. The two main colors are pink and purple, which creates an analogous color scheme. Also, repetition by color is shown with the multiple shades of pink. The bricks in the castle create a rough texture. Asymmetrical balance is shown by having the castle in the middle, one cloud on each side and balance between the girl and the unicorn on each side. Composition is used by the organization of different items to make a whole. Dominance is shown in the display by having a unicorn. The viewer’s eye would be attracted to the unicorn and then to the merchandise on the mannequin. A black mannequin was used to bring the focus solely to the clothes displayed on it. The lighting used is incandescent. In addition, the focus is on the merchandise and the unicorn.
     In the second window display, the tea party represents a realistic setting. The pink creates a monochromatic color scheme and it also has a pop color of blue. Repetition of shapes is used in the wallpaper by having multiple flowers. The flowers give texture as well. Asymmetrical balance is used with balance on each side between the wall fixtures and the tea party. Incandescent lighting is used to accent the mannequin and table, and a heart shaped light on the wall further lights up the display.
     For both windows the type of display is a related merchandising display. Both windows also show a promotional display by focusing on a certain concept. A closed-back window display is used with a raised floor to ensure the display is the focus. The back wall of the window display is not fully constructed to the ceiling so the panels can be removed if needed. A ceiling grid will attach the lights and clouds to the ceiling. The height of the store is higher than normal with a height of 12 feet. This will make the display higher than normal as well, creating a tall window display. For the tall window display we will also rely on light from the store since the back wall does not go up to the ceiling.

Floor Plan

Floor Plan Analysis and Evaluation
     Our floor plan is 40 feet long and 20 feet wide. The window displays are 5 feet long and 8 feet wide for each window. The door entrance is 3 feet long with a width of 3 feet. Our store is on the smaller side with 800 square feet. We do not need a big space, since our store is a specialty store and we offer one collection of merchandise instead of multiple collections of unrelated items.
     When a customer first enters the store, the first thing they will see is the runway straight in the back. Then, off to the right is the merchandise, and in the middle and front of the store are tables with accessories. Having a closed back window allows us the put tables up against the back of the window display. Since we are working with a small space, we have the merchandise spaced along the wall without bulky clothes racks taking up room. The accessory tables are in the middle; however, there is enough space between the merchandise, register, and the couch for the customers to walk around. Since our store is long, the cash register and storage room are long instead of wide to help save space as well.
     The runway is elevated using stairs so that it will appear as if it’s a stage. Having a runway and stage makes the floor plan aesthetically pleasing. The parents can watch their children model the clothing by sitting either on the couch facing the runway at the bottom of the stairs, or at the end of the runway. Each dressing room is 4 square feet, and uses curtains instead of doors. Having curtains instead of doors allows for more space to walk around the runway without having swinging doors taking up room. The runway is 10 feet long by 4 feet wide, which will allow enough room for more than one child at a time. The storage room in back of the stage is small; however, it is long and since the ceiling is high there will be enough room for the items since we can stack them almost to the ceiling.

Planogram 1

Planogram 2

Planogram 3

Planogram 4

Island Fixtures

Service Area

     The runway is the first thing customers will see when they walk in the store. This is what sets us apart from other children’s stores. Our service area reflects out brand concept directly. We want to create an environment for young girls to explore their creativity. The runway for the girls to model their creations will reflect this creativity. This creates better service to the customers because they are able to see the clothes in a unique way. Seeing the clothes on a runway with lights gives them a chance to see how the dresses look. The dresses will look much better than in a dark dressing room. This also creates a fun shopping environment where the girls will always remember and ask their parents to come back.

I was extremely proud of this project because it turned out so well, and we all worked together to achieve that goal. From the beginning when choosing the concept, I knew we could create something that we would all be delighted with.
I was in charge of doing the Illustrator work, with the help of one girl who did planograms 1, 3, and 4, while the other two girls worked on the floor plan, theme board, and word document. I had a lot of fun designing the different elements that went into the store, such as the brand logo, dressing rooms, and pretty window displays.


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  2. Visual merchandising course will review the key principles of merchandising and display across a spectrum of retail environments. Emphasis will be placed on the evolution of merchandising and display theory and tactics, with a comprehensive review of contemporary strategies. The programme of visual merchandising is aimed at students who have a passion for Visual arts and want to carve a niche in the area of Visual Communication. The course provides an opportunity to the students to specialize in applied arts or Painting. Hamstech style and visual merchandising program will enable students to become successful visual art professionals.visual merchandiser