A couple of weeks ago, I attended a talk in Hobart by Roz Wren, who trained for 2 years in retail display and exhibition design, and worked as a window dresser in London's Jaeger and Selfridges. Although the information was specifically tailored for those who have shop windows to 'dress', I went along anyway, as I figured there would be something of benefit for those of us who have trestle tables at markets, after all the main aim in executing a display is that it entices people over for a second look!
I have combined her advice with some of my somewhat limited knowledge from fashion and design days, and my passion for display to bring you I hope, a helpful post!
I like to think of a market stall as a type of window to your merchandise, and as such deserves some thought and effort. The big difference I guess is that your display is your merchandise, and not just a select few pieces that you have bought from your shop to put in a window....and this requires extra thought and care as to what goes on your table. Not only that, your display is constantly changing as people purchase items, leaving gaps, and your stock keeps moving as people like to touch. That's to be expected, after all, who wants a display that just sits there all day looking pretty? We want people to come and buy, naturally! However, I think if you can start with a theme, and some basic design principles, even when stock is becoming depleted from your stall (yeh!), it will still look cohesive, and might only need a couple of tweaks, now and again. But, please, don't stand there fiddling too much!
So, let's ask ourselves, why is display important?
It creates interest and excitement in your stall!
The character and atmosphere of your table can set the tone, and make your business individual.
A well executed display creates a favourable impression.
Every display gives a message.
So here are my top 10 ideas for a great craft market display!
okay it sounds obvious, but the more thought and effort you put in beforehand, the better the result. Give yourself time to practise at home, doing a mock up of your table. You may think of something fantastic, and it's too late once you're at the market setting up. At least, draw up a rough plan of where you want to place items. You need to think like an interior designer, or a florist, and gather ye all manner of materials.
1) keep it cohesive
All the elements of your table, both product and props, should have some relevance to each other. If you need a lot of small containers for holding merchandise, make sure that they are the same. At least in colour or texture, or in keeping with the style of your product. Any props used should enhance your merchandise, it shouldn't overwhelm it. Tell your story.
Less is more, keep things uncluttered, (unless messy is the look you are striving for!) and use a neutral tablecloth...a tablecloth that is 'busy' just distracts from your product. A black tablecloth will instensify the colours of your merchandise, a white tablecloth keeps things fresh.
I find this is the point I personally struggle with the most, you want all your stock on the table, so people have choice, but sometimes this backlashes! If you have duplicates, keep them under the table, replenishing once stock sells. Maybe stacking some items, instead of having them all over the table. You need to experiment with what works for you, it's really going to depend on what you have for sale.
Colour in your display is the first thing you probably notice as a customer, details come later. Sometimes it's hard to just pick 3 main colours, because your stock is varied. But, you could place different items of the same colour for a dramatic effect. Experiment with different props to create different moods.
Remember the colour circle;
complimentary colours - blue/orange, purple/yellow, red/green, black/white. These are stimulating and bold.
variations or tones of the same colour - harmonious and restful.
colours either side of a primary colour - red/orange. red/purple can be discordant but can create startling effects.
Warm colours advance, cool colours recede.
What effect are you trying to achieve?
The colour of your props and tablecloth are to be considered.
This is the arrangement of forms within a space, and is the factor which brings the product you're selling and any props into a united whole. A composition must consider all the space on the table, both positive and negative. The grouping of elements should lead the eye around the whole area. Generally negative spaces are undesirable in the centre of the display.
Here are 2 failsafe methods of groupings!
three dimensional triangles;
both symmetrical and asymmetrical (this just means you can draw an imaginery triangle around any given group)
The best form to adopt is higher at the back, lower at the front. A tight arrangement of product creates unity and minimises negative space in the centre of a group.
A focal point is where the eye is drawn first, it's the centre of the display or individual group, and it's the brightest spot that everything radiates from. The three dimensional triangle needs a focal point.
this is a useful method of grouping multiples, and odd numbers work best, 3's, 5's. Repetition displays don't have a focal point.
6) texture and pattern
Combining textures provides contrast and interest to your display, and is one of the most important aspects of visual information available. The distance of the viewer from a surface alters the visual effect of texture...although a surface close up appears very rough, from a distance is will appear smoother. Texture also reflects light in different ways. Think about the texture of a prop and it's perceived feel, and how that can work into your display. Think about your tablecloth, and the texture/feel you are trying to create.
If you can at all include movement into your display, it will create interest.
some ideas are: flags flapping, a mirror, a goldfish in a bowl (!), a light flickering, like a candle (check with your market organisers-there are insurance issues to consider)...these are just a few ideas I've thought of, I'm sure there are lots of other inventive ways. The main challenge is space, but if you have some room on your table, consider how this can be done.
Make sure any tags, and labels are in an easy to read font, or neat handwriting (not scruffy), keep it simple.
Don't make your customers work too hard trying to find out what your prices are, unless you have a very special product, and are trying to create an exclusive feel. Remember, customers don't always want to ask what the price is, and sometimes they will simply just walk away.
10) for every rule, there is an exception.
Don't be afraid to experiment, try new ways of displaying, and most importantly, have fun with it, it will show. Use a sense of humour.
I have scoured, Flickr for the best pictures on craft market displays I could find, I wanted to show what could be done with mere table space alone! And as these photos will attest, there is a bounty of ways to display your wares, and I really hope this post gives you some inspiration. Simply by observing how other dress and display their merchandise, you can learn so much. So, keep your eyes peeled, and have fun.
great display, you can see tissue holders at a glance, prop in keeping with product, quirky.
sympathetic use of containers and odd numbers grouping
romantic and enticing, love the texture variance between the wood and the organza - hard with soft
you can also see glass, and pottery...but it all works.
plain tablecloth, lets the product tell the story
props work well with product
harmonious use of colour
tiered, groups of threes.
what do you think about the props?
jewellery stands out, odd grouping
Cohesive 'clutter' that just works! So gorgeous, I want to touch everything!
monotone, except for that much needed pop of orange
simple, organic, earthy, clean
so much here i like
tiered, good composition
great use of triangles, and colour groupings, base cloth works well with product.
Wow, colour grouping really works, but I love the fruit in the front bowls, it gives a contrast colour bang, and although this display would still be good without them, maybe not as exciting?
although not a trestle, I had to include this, what a wonderful display on so many levels.