Window Display Designer

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Window Display Designer


Window shopping, one of North America's favorite pastimes, would cease to exist without window display designers. These talented professionals do more than just put mannequins in the window - they spend hours planning and installing interesting, throught-provoking, and appealing displays in the windows of high fashion stores, family-owned shops, and every place in between.

For a store, the front window is a calling card. If the window is dusty and full of mannequins with broken limbs and crooked wigs, chances are you won't go inside, even if the clothes on the mannequin are sensational. However, if the window is bright, imaginative, and displays the products in eye-catching ways, then you're more likely to tour the store.

Window display designers work full-time with large retail stores, and on contract with smaller shops. They meet with the owners and managers to learn about the product they are interested in displaying. Then they conceptualize and produce designs that appear in store windows, in order to promote the store's merchandise. They have to figure out interesting ways to get people inside the store they are promoting. It requires patience, creativity, and a willingness to work hard to create brilliant, functional art. Some designers become well known nationally, and can win awards, recognition, and better contracts from employers.

Window display designers are always looking for ways to create art and, at the same time, show off the store's merchandise in flattering ways. They apply their many talents to bring the window shoppers a little more art to their favorite pastime.
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  Average Earnings  
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  Interests and Skills  
Interested in becoming a window display designer? These workers are creative and able to visualize designs and displays three-dimensionally. It is important to have a good eye for color and composition, and have excellent communication skills. Window display designers typically have a great interest in fashion and marketing as well as design.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Meet with store owners and managers to gather information about display space, proposed themes, and items being promoted
  • Find props for display
  • Create sketches and three-dimensional models of the proposed display
  • Supervise the work of the production team building the display, or
  • Develop the display alone
  • Window display designers spend most of each day planning and outlining displays for independent retail stores and chain stores. They create sketches by hand. They also spend some of each day with the displays, either supervising installation or helping with routine maintenance. Designers have to climb ladders, bend, and reach to get into corners and tight spaces. They work alone, but for large jobs will have assistants. They usually work 40 hours a week, but may have to work in the evenings if the shop doesn't want the display going up during business hours.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Window display designers work wherever items need to be sold, be at a large, high-class department store or a family-owned shop. They are sometimes on staff with chain and department stores, while others work on contract-by-contract basis, working for a variety of stores at once.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Window display designers can go on to work full-time with a well-known department store chain, advancing to senior positions, or they can get into interior decorating or museum exhibit design. They can open their own clothing stores, write design technique books, or become set dressers for theater and film. With additional education and experience, window display designers may choose to move into the field of interior or industrial design.

  Educational Paths  
In order to become a window display designer, it is suggested to get some college or university training in graphic design, fine art, construction, carpentry, architecture, lighting, or theatrical design. There are also a few college courses available in visual merchandising and design. Some business and marketing courses would also help individuals promote their skills.

Before going to school, however, consider working in retail. Ask to help with the window displays, as employers look for experience as well as education.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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