For over 70 years the British display society has been representing the Visual Merchandising profession.
Established in 1947 it has always been seen as the authority of good window dressing and styling standards, promoting the highest standard of VM & Display. Many past students have gone on to create exciting careers in the world of design and display, and today the British Display still continues.
In the early 198 this is where both Janet and I started our careers in Visual Merchandising or ‘window dressing ‘as it was then known. We were surrounded by shops buzzing with theatrical displays, all of which were real crowd pullers from miles around.
Our college was positioned in the heart of London’s west-end adjoined to St Martin’s School of Art and this is where we took inspiration every day we were there. Our British Display Society’s well-recognised Diploma course lasted two full years and was very practical… practice, practice and more practice was how we learned our craft, working in studios full of mock windows with plenty of stock to choose from, stored carefully away when not in use. Not a computer in sight! Everything hand-written and drawn, all our designs sketched by hand – something we both still do today.
Times move on, the High street has changed, yet after all this time the British Display Society remains. The Society, a charity, is run by volunteers all of whom work within the industry, many of us our whole careers. As the British Display Society we offer recognition to Centres of Excellence and support members in the same way too, offering various affixes which are recognised in the workplace to help them along their career paths. With the help of social media, we are going from strength to strength and membership is increasing with our support network gaining strength too.
We are all passionate about helping the art of good display stay alive, working with students and colleges as well as those already in business. With both online and practical courses to teach the basic display rules, we give them the confidence to know just what they should be doing with their window displays. We like to think we have something for everyone.
So, although retail isn’t what it was ‘back in the day’ and as we all know changing by the second, there is still a need for theatre and good display techniques now more than ever to attract trade back to the high street. Businesses really must stand out from the crowd if they are going to attract sales, and if the customer-experience is lacking it goes without saying that the customers will be too!
Theatre and visual displays are more important now than ever, and as Vice Chair of the BDS I would like to endorse that its more important now than ever!