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Retail Design Influencers

September 2015 - Design: Retail

design: retail Portfolio Awards 2015

design: retail Portfolio Awards 2015

TO COMMUNICATE VISUALLY is a very powerful, emotional tool,” says Ralph Pucci, whose 30-plus years of innovative mannequin design was celebrated this year in a major exhibit at New York’s Museum for Arts & Design (MAD). Bringing the real artisans of visual merchandising and display out from behind the store windows and putting mannequins in an art museum was an unexpected and fabulous industry boost. “My design philosophy is that there are no rules,” Pucci says. He encourages himself and peers “to take chances and to use the greatest talent available to collaborate with, to create a ‘wow,’ to inspire. Through the show at MAD, this philosophy becomes very clear.” Pucci relays a time when Andrew Markopoulos, then at Dayton Hudson, bought 1,000 Kalman mannequins and used them as store “greeters” for Work Day Casual, and highlighted them on billboards in Minneapolis, Chicago and Detroit, and on shopping bags. “It was then that I clearly saw that my mannequins, if used correctly, could help build a brand, not just wear clothes,” he says. Pucci adds that if anything, the MAD show has brought tremendous exposure to the visual craft. “I feel our industry has been under-appreciated,” he says. “The next generation has a golden opportunity. I would encourage them to push the envelope, to take chances and to embrace all the arts. Do not put yourself in a box. There is more to visual presentation than the clothing. It’s important to know what the other stores look like, it’s important to know trends, but it’s more important to go to the art galleries and museums, to listen to all types of music, experience all types of performances, to expand the thought process. By incorporating all the arts, you can create great, unexpected visual presentations. This is their chance, their moment.”

By RACHEL BRANNON and ZOË ZELLERS