Monday, 4 September 2017

Three tools for display designing

"Both fine arts and display design are based on the same means of visual layout and composition."  

This assignment was about the different tools we can use to aid us when designing a display window composition. First, we were to familiarise ourselves with the art school found on Gösta Serlachius art museum's website, after which we choose three design tools that interest us the most, and introduce them in our blog with example pictures of display windows.


"The impression of movement is created in the overall composition, such as the size, placing, direction and compactness of the elements." // Serlachius museum, Art School

The concept of movement in design may be of interest to me because of my background in dance. I find the idea of creating a sense of motion in what usually is a static image fascinating. The following pictures have in my opinion successfully utilised the impression of movement in the design.


In this design, the impression of motion is created with the use of distorted lines. The lines on what is pictured as the floor of a swimming pool are curved and uneven, as if seen through water. Furthermore, a feeling of movement also comes from the splash marks around the diver - the beginning of the invisible waves. Because of the curved lines and wavy atmosphere, the straight-lined and solid items placed on the lower part of the display are highlighted. In addition, the diver seems to be going head-on toward the big, orange rucksack - a contrasting colour to the otherwise blue-toned design.

retrieved from visualmerchandisingdaily


In the H&M display window, the impression of motion comes from the position of the mannequins, as well as the wooden steps which are arranged in different levels and angles. The overall feeling is as if the mannequins are walking on a wooden suspension bridge which to some extent gives in to weight and wind. The first two mannequins from the left seem at peace because their hands are placed together, but the third one's arms are slightly behind her torso and she seems to be leaning back. This gives an impression of her possibly falling backwards, a theory supported by the raising steps. Compared to the other two mannequins, the one at the top also seems lighter. In this, both the position, the height, and the already exiting pre-assumption of heavy = down, light = up are contributing factors. This impression is enhanced by the use of black colour on the mannequin at the base, and white on the mannequin at the top. Regardless of the story each viewer reads in the image, a sense of movement is strong.

retrieved from vm.crew


In this display by HERMÈS, movement is the core element of the design The theme "sea" alone has a connotation of movement to it; the sea is never still. Here, we see a huge wave almost touching what appears to be kites and a duck flying in the air. The duck is obviously stopped mid-motion with its wings spread wide open, and the scarf-kites are hung in slightly different positions, which gives an impression of the wind manipulating the scarf-kites' movement as they float. Also, the red-clothed mannequin is placed in a slightly unconventional, forward-leaning position. The viewer could thus assume that she, too, is caught mid-motion leaning toward the water. Lastly, even the forms (drops of water) used to create the wave have a story of movement, and not only because they form the sea. The drops are positioned in various different ways: upside down, side ways, or the conventional way with the tip up. By doing this, the designer created a sense of the water's wild and free movement. The impression would be very different had the drops all been placed the same way, even if they were still  grouped together to form a wave.

retrieved from vm.crew


This display window is very different from the other ones, because it actually has real movement incorporated in the design. The fans create wind which makes the beautiful, massive, violet canvas float candidly and mostly without restriction. To enhance the impression, the mannequins feet are positioned not next to one another as feet usually are when standing, but as if in the middle of a step forward (or backward). This design is in its simplicity extremely clever and outstanding.

retrieved from vm.crew


In this display, motion is apparent from the very first glance. A presumption of movement will be made in the viewer's mind based on the gymnastic equipment, and the mannequin is positioned as if in motion, too. Her head is facing slightly to the left, her feet and legs are open and bent, and it seems as if she is really holding herself up with her straight arms, hands curved around the rings, and most importantly, the shoulders which are up ever so slightly. The biggest factor in this display is the flowing dress that catches the viewer's attention immediately.

retrieved from visualmerchandisingdaily


There are three types of forms: the basic forms (circle, square, triangle), the geometrical forms (cylinder, cone, ball, cube), and organic forms, which come from, for example, the leaves running water. One of the most important things to consider in composition is the way in which the forms and characters are placed, for the relation between them is a key factor when it comes to the outcome. Forms and elements can be placed alone, which gives them an extra emphasis; in groups, in which case they are dependent on one another; or scattered, which makes them seem independent. Compositions can also be built around one determinative form, "a centre". This is used commonly in art work.

When designing, it is important to note that in the Western cultures we tend to look at things from left to right. Because of this, elements placed on the left side are seen first, and thus, may easily seem more powerful than the elements placed on the right.
source:  Serlachius museum, Art School


In this HERMÈS display, a form (a handbag) is used to frame the products. Otherwise all different and scattered bags are grouped together and integrated by the use of the frame. This kind of form also makes the design three dimensional. In principle, the same framing could have been done with straight lines around the items, which would have made the design seem two dimensional and thus picture-like. This choice, however, gives more an impression of an installation.

retrieved from vm.crew


In this display by CHLOÉ, forms and colours of the dress' texture have been brought to life as physical geometrical shapes of different colours. In one way, this makes the dress' basic forms seem more angular, on the other hand it the pattern may loom softer and rounder because of the objects. The balance in the display is interesting, because the floor is empty and the air is filled with big, solid elements, resulting in a 90s Windows screen saver vibe.

retrieved from vm.crew


In this MOSCHINO display window, the form is the transparent yellow cube (in the shape of a speaker). I find this design interesting because the form is around the items, rather than framing in in the background. What does this do to the products? Does it hide them? Does it make the viewer more curious? Where is the emphasis in this? I personally sense a "Loose yourself to the music" -kind of ambience, which also makes sense with regards to how the mannequin and the products are all inside of the cube rather than outside. MOSCHINO's style is always extravagant, and this design is 100% according to the brand's image.

retrieved from vm.crew


This design utilises basic forms (the eye-catching purple triangles seen from the front), and geometrical forms (the three dimensional cones). Furthermore, the stand is a mirror glazed pentagon, which allows empty space around the mannequin and the background feature (the cone/triangle). The forms bring the three different styles together in a more effective way than if the mannequins were simply placed close to one another on their own. This kind of an assembling element is a very useful tool when there is a varied assortment of items in the display. The use of purple as a contrast to the warm yellow light, as well as the angular forms make the display interesting and cause it to stand out from the sea of clothes.

retrieved from visualmerchandisingdaily


This BERGDORF'S window display features Benjamin Shine's incredible work of art. In this, the form is the piece of art made with tulle. The art work is placed in the background, framing the mannequin and creating a suspension and a story between the mannequin and the form: the mannequin and the art work's gazes are facing away from each other, which creates a very different atmosphere compared to should the two be facing each other. The form in this could be categorised as organic because the art work depicts a human (female) face. An impression of a dreamy atmosphere is built from the use of light, transparent material, that is left flowing seemingly free at the top and base (the forehead and hair, and the neck). The mannequin's straight lines are emphasised because of the tulle that almost seems to be breathing, as the shadows created by layering the canvas brings the art work alive. Furthermore, the use of lighting creates its own forms and figures on the back wall, making the black clothed, down looking mannequin seem gloomy, whereas the fuchsia, overscale tulle face is facing the light with its eyes closed. (Benjamin Shine's instagram)

retrieved from visualmerchandisingdaily


Colours can be divided into categories and subcategories. Johannes Itten (a Swiss expressionist, find out more here) created a colour sphere that is formed out of 12 colours. In the middle of the sphere there's triangle that consists of the three primary colours (yellow, red and blue), and pure secondary colours (orange, violet and green). Across from each other on the outer circle are the complementary colours, which highlight each other when placed side by side: red and green, blue and orange, and yellow and violet. If these colour pairs are mixed, they create a grey colour. On the outer circle we have the whole range of colours: primary, secondary, and the tertiary colours, which are made by mixing together one primary and one secondary colour. The tertiary colours are red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet and red-violet.

By parallelising compatible colour tones and saturations, we can create harmonious colour combinations and thus, give an impression of cohesion and tranquility. On the other hand, by using colours of great contrast, we can lure the viewer's focus to what we want them to see.


In this display window by ETRO, the designer has decided to use a play of colours. The bright yellow Waals are highlighted with the use of its complementary colour violet, and even the pink ball pit is closer to violet than yellow, creating a contrast there, too. The very pure yellow walls and ceiling already in its own makes this display window pop out from the ordinary, but it is the pastel pink ball pit that creates a delicious and tropical mix with the yellow. To top that, the violet, light shifting gown is not only beautiful but somehow brings all of the colours together.

The other mannequin's dress uses complementary colours as well, this time red and green. The green used is more a yellow-green, thus being a tertiary colour of yellow, and of the same colour scheme. The red contrasts green, and is very clearly of other colour scheme than the overall look. However, blue, violet, pink and red can all be traced to one another. Had we orange, we could also add yellow to that same line. The red and green dress stands out from the rest, and almost disturbs me because of the otherwise tropical/pastel/cute colour combinations. A pure vivid red seems to be from another world than the rest, and it may well have been the designers goal to break the established colour scheme in this way.

retrieved from vm.crew


This design by IRENE LASCHI for Printemps utilises tones of green, red and yellow, spiced up with the dotted black and white shirt, and the leopard print jacket. Moreover, the turquoise shoes give the otherwise coherently contrasting colour scheme that extra magic.
Red and green are complementary colours, and in this they work very well together because of the theme: in nature, red and green are often seen together. The walls are mainly green, which makes the flowers, red shoes and red trousers stand out. In my opinion, this design has the ingredients of a chaos, but the empty space, white floor, and a common theme gather the elements into a pleasant overall look.

retrieved from visualmerchandisingdaily


It would seem that in this display window by TOPSHOP, the clothes aren't in as big a part. Rather, the goal is to attract the passer-by to come into the shop to see and feel the clothes for themselves. This is done through use of lots of colour and massive inflatable elements, resulting in a chaos. However, all the colours and objects have a common summer-y, tropical, fruit-y theme, which saves this design from being a disaster. More is more!

retrieved from visualmerchandisingdaily


In this ANTHROPOLOGIE display window, they've used a gradual progression from rich plum shade violet to peachy orange. The darkest colours are placed at the bottom, and lightest at the top, which creates a sense of weight down. This also highlights the clothes, because on the mannequin the dark brown jacket is at the top next to the lighter background, whereas the hem of the mostly white dress is against the darker shades.

retrieved from visualmerchandisingdaily


This clever MULBERRY window display uses blue and green -blue and green toned colours, with a few red bags contrasting the general colour scheme and making the magic happen. The red bags stand out and gives a focus point, although the giant plate does the framing. The bags are pure blue and green, so is the pattern on the giant plate. The back wall as well as the floor are blue-green, which a combination of the two primary colours, i.e. a tertiary colour.

retrieved from vm.crew

The art school on Serlachius museum's website is unfortunately only available in Finnish, but I found this website very helpful when translating all this information that is new to me from Finnish to English. The post there goes a bit more into detail in some aspects and also introduces a lot more design elements than the Serlachius art school.

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