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Design Diaries, Chapter 14: Merchandising at Home

  • Author:designretailonline
  • Source:designretailonline
  • Release on:2020-09-12

In New York, we’re continuing deeper into our lock-down period and I’m noticing certain behaviors are becoming our new norm. My husband and I have created our workspaces, and the daily momentum of video collaborations, solo work and conference calls has become routine.

What I am realizing quickly is what I miss most are physical material samples. I long for the feel of fabric swatches and rings of wood flitches, the cool slickness of tile samples and the warmth of a stack of carpets. I miss the ability to see how each variation in paint or wallcovering shifts in daylight. Portrayed on screen, the flat image mutes the impact, and without touching them, my mind can only imagine the full effect.

To mitigate this void, I’ve now engaged with fabrics and textures from clothing and silhouettes from our furniture at home. Pillows get wrapped with sweaters, rugs are pulled from other rooms to my workspace, draperies are moved to allow for light and furniture is constantly being rearranged. As I share my screen during video sessions, I watch my home reflected within the meeting in progress. In this on-screen mirror world, I slip into project design mode, sifting through proposed passage clearances, furniture groupings, fabric balances and merchandising arrangements. Will the nubby wool from that sweater or the smooth silk of the drape provide enough comfort and cleanability? What’s the right mix of raw metal and smooth wood I could adapt from those bookcases to showcase product best? How many picture frames or accessories on a shelf versus those vertical piles of books? Each little lesson learned brings me back to focus on the project and gives an innate sense of happiness knowing the inspiration came from the home I’ve created with my husband.

The same passion that moves me to storytelling in merchandising has extended throughout the house. I find myself creating vignettes of these new materials and elements in various places, from the pantry closet to the laundry room—and now through both the closets of myself and now those of my husband. Although initially bemused, he has gracefully accepted that I’ll consistently remerchandise every rail, drawer and shelf on a weekly basis. This outlet serves to challenge myself to create a positive message that I can translate into projects—from folding techniques, to colorization, to belt-knotting, I strive to make our collections look exactly like a perfect product assortment.

Every spring, when I present a roundup of dynamic new retail spaces across the city for major tradeshows, I’ve noted consistently the experience-driven retail spaces that blend hospitality and residential elements. These retailers are driving business forward, and although many are digital natives branching into physical space, quite a few are not. The commonality of both groups is that they each seek to create powerful experiences that celebrate customer engagement in comforting, purposeful environments. I find myself reflecting the same message throughout my home, with each decorative element arranged and well-lit, with a story to be romanced and sold, and then wrapped, packaged and taken home by a thoroughly enraptured customer.

I think it is working. When he opens the closet doors, my husband consistently remarks upon some element of his wardrobe as if he’s discovered something new. The salesperson within me smiles as I tell him the story of where we were when we first bought that particular piece and then ask, “Would you like to try that on? I think it may be available in your size.”

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