By Vicki Matranga, Design Programs Coordinator
At the International Home + Housewares Show in March, the Innovation Theater in the Lakeside Center (formerly called the Housewares Design Theater) will present 20 educational programs, every hour beginning Saturday afternoon and ending Tuesday afternoon. The Theater, which was located in the Level 3 Lobby, moves to Room E350 (near the entry to the Level 3 Lobby) where experts in new product development and launch will discuss critical and timely topics in our industry. As the Show approaches, we’ll introduce you to the presenters with a series of blog stories. Be sure to mark your calendars for these exciting programs! Check www.housewares.org regularly for updates on the schedule of Show events.
Martin M. Pegler: The Retail Store as Theater: Adding the Entertainment Experience to Selling Through Visual Merchandising and Display, Monday, March 12 2:30 pm – 3:20 pm.
We are pleased to present Martin M. Pegler in the Innovation Theater. Martin has been a professor for 30 years at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York in the Display & Exhibit Design Department. A leading expert in his field for over 60 years, Martin hosts seminars in the United States as well as in Latin America, Europe and the Pacific Rim. He has authored 80 books and his textbook, Visual Merchandising and Display, is used in universities around the world. Recently, the Professionals for the Advancement of Visual Education presented Martin with a lifetime achievement award. He has also been inducted into the Visual Merchandising and Display Industries’ Hall of Fame and is an elected member of the Society of Visual Merchandisers. Martin has worked with IHA’s Global Innovation Awards (gia) program from the beginning as an Expert Juror. To honor Martin’s leadership role with the program, the Top Window Award was renamed to the “Martin M. Pegler Award for Excellence in Visual Merchandising”. In addition, he was presented with an honorary gia Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Martin, you are such an inspiration to many in our industry. What drives you? What inspires your passion in your work?
I am inspired by the color—the drama—the excitement that goes on around me and I want to be part of it all. I was fortunate to find a field in which my creative spirit—my sense of humor—and my flights of fancy can be grounded and allow me to work with products. I am a specialist in product presentation; showing merchandise off at its best—and in display which attracts and draws shoppers over to the product being offered. Along the way, and based on my education and experiences with presentation, I have become accepted as a knowledgeable reporter on store design. That has led to my multiple careers as a practitioner of these arts, an educator/ lecturer to pass on that knowledge and the author/ editor of numerous books in which I have recorded that knowledge.
Why did you choose to speak at the International Home + Housewares Show?
I was delighted to accept the invitation to give a lecture that came from people I knew and regard as friends in Finland where I was pleased to give a series of talks a short while ago. I am like the proverbial “fire-horse” of a century ago that responds to a fire alarm. With me—all it takes—is being asked to get the chance to spread the gospel of visual merchandising and display and I am off and talking.
What will you be speaking about and how is it important to Show audiences?
I see a great parallel between retail and theater. I see the store as the stage on which the merchandise presentation takes place and that means—LIGHTS! ACTION! And SHOWMANSHIP!! My talk is illustrated with images of gia-award winning stores from around the world. It shows just how important store design, visual merchandising and display are in creating, presenting and representing the store’s brand—and the products contained in the store. I would think people might just be interested in seeing the images of these prize-winning retail stores—if not in what I have to say. In addition—whatever field you are in—but especially in retailing—you must ‘entertain’ your clients—and my talk is about ‘Entertainment in Retail’.
You’ve spoken before in our Theater. What are you looking forward to most?
As someone who likes what he does and loves his subject, I would hope for an audience that will be receptive to my ideas—and willing to try out some of my recommendations. I have addressed previous audiences and look forward to seeing more young and enthusiastic retailers who are looking for and open to working solutions—who are receptive to new ideas and willing to try them out. I feel like the Tony Bennett of Visual Merchandising. I may be singing the same songs but I try to update the tempo and the beat to make it relevant and acceptable to a new generation. I hope they will attend this non-singing concert.
How does Innovation Theater help you spread your message?
The Innovation Theater makes it possible to not only broadcast my subject but to introduce to those who are not familiar with it—the gia awards and an opportunity to see some of these stores and see why they are so successful.
What is the best advice you could give someone trying to get into your field of expertise?
Be open—be adventurous—be willing to try new things and experience old things in new ways. Look around you and study art, architecture, fashion, and history. Look at the bright side—smiling people make easier customers—so put a ‘smile’ in your merchandise presentation—add humor and light. Keep current –know what is going on in the world—in the magazines—which movies are people seeing—what books are they reading—what are people talking about and bring all that into your window displays. Remember that your customers are looking to you for new ideas and new ways to use your products—so how you show will affect how you sell. And CHANGE is so important—so change your presentations frequently—show what is new up front—and show simply, clearly and logically—but with a twist that make the product and your store unique.
Thank you, Martin, for sharing your enthusiasm with us. Your passion in your work is well-known and you have inspired generations of students and retailers. We look forward to your exciting presentation in the Innovation Theater, Lakeside Center Room E350 on Monday March 12 at 2:30pm.
If you’d like to ask Martin Pegler a question, please contact him at