We caught up with David Anthony at the Clerkenwell Design Expo to have a chat about his talent as a Visual Merchandiser. Having practised Visual Merchandising for over 30 years, it’s safe to say he’s an expert in the field! His portfolio of eclectic designs incorporates both a creative aesthetic while maintaining brand values. At the heart of every piece of Visual Merchandising he creates lies a clear customer journey, to ensure shoppers are ultimately attracted to the point of purchase.
Here we talk to David Anthony about all things VM…
MR: What originally attracted you to visual merchandising?
DA: The combination of art, being creative and being able to utilise it in a practical way that suits retail. I was taught the ‘old school’ techniques which see Visual Merchandising as an artform on the streets, with a retail placement. Having a window dressed as a set, like a theatre stage set, makes it an artistry. Things become a life of their own as they work and build together; how you display products creates not only a look but also a feel of the brand, too.
MR: How would you describe your brand?
DA: My brand is simple. The branding logo is both a name and pattern, which I created myself. Elements of any design need to work logically and aesthetically in people’s minds and not have the focus on too many things. I think it has a nice balance and contrast which creates and replicates how the brand looks and feels. The aesthetic of the website is very much akin to who I am and what I’m about.
MR: What makes a shop stand out for you?
DA: When it is creative and shows care about what the brand is, and there is a clear sign that effort has gone into the thought behind the window. The whole inside of the shop should continue to portray that feel: from the fascia and window the journey inside needs to be creative and interesting grabbing your complete attention.
MR: What do you enjoy most about creating new displays?
DA: Being able to work with a product that inspires you and being able to make something creative for a retail shop. Visual merchandising, for me, is like a set design. These old school ideas and techniques curate the initial space and apply these techniques to make the shop an art gallery of their products.
MR: How do you help shops improve their visual merchandising?
DA: This works differently for different brands, for example whether the client has an idea in mind and only needs a little help to bring to life their vision or has a completely blank space and needs help from the beginning to the end. I actually like being able to start fresh or when the space is a mess, and then see how the space develops and grows. The aesthetic will be designed around creating a customer experience, how the company operates and the look and feel of the brand from a 360° angle.
All these are considerations when creating something that looks good and fulfils what the customer actually wants from their experience of the brand, from start to finish. Ensuring that all the different business roles and objectives are met, by knowing what the different functions are, helps to meet objectives and key components of the business too. It is important to know that you can’t please everyone. Not every person that walks past will like your space but your typical or ideal customer should be inspired by it and want to come in!
MR: Do you have any role models in the industry?
DA: Way back, Gene Moore, who was in charge of Visual Merchandising (when it was called “Window Dressing”!) at the Tiffany store in New York was very progressive for his time and created truly iconic and quirky windows.
MR: Why is it important to style a clothing rack?
DA: It can be hard if you aren’t overly fashionable or creative to visualise an outfit. People will always see a mannequin and like the combinations and see how to put items of clothing and accessories together. It’s important to piece the look like a story. Obviously, the ultimate aim is to get the customer to buy something, so by putting something creatively together, a shopper can come into the store, see how the entire outfit looks and then buy it. People’s time is precious and it can be easier to just buy it – so showcase your items in the best possible light.
You can see David’s distinctive style on his website, https://www.davidanthonycreative.com/, to understand how he puts items together and how he incorporates traditional techniques with modern ideas to evoke reactions and get people’s attention very quickly.
We look forward to seeing a lot more of David Anthony’s work featured on the site very soon as he captures some of London’s finest shop windows as part of a new regular Modern Retail feature!
The photos in our recent interview with Marby & Elm were taken by David Anthony and you can see them here