Visual Merchandising for the New Millenium

An interview with Ian Proetta, Creative Director, Greneker

DALLAS, April 1, 1999/ FW/ — Are retailers ready for the challenge of the new millenium? Are visual merchandising companies ready for the new challenges facing the industry?

Visual merchandising takes on so many facets of the retail industry – from the window displays to floor fixtures, signs and graphics and of course, the inevitable link to fashion and culture.

Ian Proetta (Photo at left) Creative Director of Greneker a company that specializes in mannequins, visual merchandising display items, store fixtures and store environments understands all of these facets of visual merchandising and the challenges that faces the industry for the new millenium.

“By the year 2000, the millenium customer will seek refuge in specialized stores that support personal expression, identity and a sense of belonging, away from today’s communities unrest, violence and media intolerance,” says Ian Proetta.

“On the other hand, retailers will be looking for their own unique visual identity. There is already an increased emphasis on merchandising mannequins and forms and other unique and exciting display items.”

“Mannequins have hit a comeback. This is due to the fact that they offer a sense of drama to visual displays and characterize a look for retailers and designers alike. New display systems today already include the integration of forms and mannequins into complete fixture schemes.”

Proetta speaks with assurance when commenting on the state of the industry. This is not a surprise though.

Trained in the prestigious BETC design program in London and at Middlesex University where he earned his Arts degree, Proetta has worked both in the UK and the United States.

His combined experience from the two countries, both considered fashion meccas, gives him insight to the ever-changing challenges that face retailers.

“The year 2000 will bring a surge of more interactive and dazzling displays technology which will certainly have a role with new motion, sound and dramatic lighting,” predicted Proetta.

“There will also be more emphasis on flexible floor plans and fixture layouts. Allowing, changes, less money will be placed on permanent structures and more emphasis will be placed on movable modular display systems. Due to this, there will be an overall closer amalgamation of store designers and visual merchandisers to create more exciting, fun and confident display environments that evolves with products and customer needs,” he added.

With Ian Proetta, the proof is in the pudding when he made these comments. He designed a Calvin Klein table wherein there is a strong design that expresses creativity and still respects Calvin Klein’s (the company) strict perimeters of color, style and material. For Greneker, Ian Proetta created Fashion Fusion, an annual charity event and was shown in New York to coincide with the Shop East Convention.

This year’s Fashion Fusion featured Greneker mannequins designed and sculpted by Robert Patterson, together with visual and merchandising items all manufactured by Greneker. Ian Proetta literally created a Spring Fashion Show in the style of store windows for named designers like Yves Saint Laurent, Krizia, Bill Blass, and Halston to name a few using the Greneker mannequins as models. Vidal Sassoon, John Paul Mitchell and Bobbi Brown did the mannequins’ make-up and hair. It was a Visual Merchandiser’s dream come true – the big names of the fashion industry giving their names and talents to a display.

With Fashion Fusion, Ian Proetta’s experience from two continents paid off.

“In the UK, I have to design displays with the thought that in London, people are more fashion conscious. And since there is more concentration of foot traffic there, customers pay more attention to the window display. I learned to pay close attention to details because of that,” relates Proetta

“Here in the US, Americans dress more for comfort. And they have a more preconceived idea as to their store destination. Therefore, the American stores do not find it necessary to pay much attention to windows in suburban cities and malls. As a display designer, I find that as a challenge to titillate the imagination of the customers, combining both fashion and comfort and make them pay attention to my displays. If people are looking, then the stores are more willing to spend money on their windows,” he continued

When asked if Greneker is ready for the challenge of the year 2000 and beyond, Ian Proetta answered with an emphatic YES!

And I believe him. Ian Proetta’s work speak volumes of his talent and creativity. He was the Art Director of the Divine Design Event for 1993,1994, 1995. His works include art direction and production design for the Muppet Christmas TV Special, Walt Disney EE3 Exhibition, MGM 1997 Licensing Show Booth, 1997 Orion Video Show, Best Design Booth 1998 San Jose CA Hair Show. He also assisted in the designing of the Panasonic Store at Universal Studios. With a portfolio like that, you can expect good things coming from Greneker’s resident creative genius.

Photos courtesy of Ian Proetta