Last week I attended a panel discussion at ALU, the maker of one of my favorite products of all time, Autopoles, and a variety of beautiful display systems.

Panel discussions rarely get too meaty, but this was a group of design directors and merchandising executives from across the the fashion industry and they were discussing “experience” in store design. 


The distinguished panel included from left to right: Erin Thompson, VP Artistic Director at Coach (NY); Sian Roberts, Senior Creative Manager at Topshop Topman (UK); Amanda Carr, Retail Trend Forcaster and Moderator of the panel; Nina Tillett, Creative Director and CEO at Minki Balinki (UK); and Harry Cunningham, SVP of Store Planning and Visual Merchandising at Saks Fifth Avenue (NY)

I totally agreed with the premise. What does not go digital will become more precious. The group talked about all kinds of retail fantasy that they had created – secret rooms, disruptions, and theatrical displays. I wish I had seen the Lowe’s handbag rendered in golden tools in Harrod’s windows, but in general retail theatrics make me want to dodge the perfume lady and head for the door.

I realized as they spoke, that what I like best in retail is authenticity. I long for quality goods, interesting spaces, and the hand of the maker. I wish there was a little factory in the back of every store making and sewing what we buy up front. I guess I am not your average shopper. In any event, it was an interesting talk and I learned a few things which is always good.

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