IRDC 2011 wrapped up with the IRDC party at Vessel and the much-anticipated announcement of the Iron Merchant VI: Visual Merchandising Challenge winner. This year’s Iron Merchant challenge was to create a visual display featuring the 2012 Boat Shoe Collection from Timberland. Each team had one hour and were provided with a window cage, mannequin, tools and supplies including a secret ingredient, water.
Image property of Chute Gerdeman
The Yellow Team, led by team leader ChadMichael Morrisette, took home the big win. Their theme was “Don’t Lose Your Grip.” The display was clean, whimsical and streamlined to focus on the product. It included hand-detailed branding with the Timberland logo drawn on the store window. Supporting the theme, a “life saver” or life preserver was made of boat shoes and included Life Savers candies in the mannequin’s hand. The back wall features an interesting pattern reflective of the shoes’ tread.
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Rob Forbes, founder of Design Within Reach and PUBLIC Bikes, took to the stage for the closing keynote session, “Visual Immersion and the Retail Mindset.” Forbes created both Design Within Reach and PUBLIC Bikes with the mission to provide well-designed products to a broad market. One of the key ingredients to success and fulfilling his mission is breaking the rules.
Image via SanFranista.com
As a self-described “streetwalker,” Forbes traveled the world exploring cities like Amsterdam and Paris. He was able to observe a revitalization of urban centers and public transportation, inspiring his newest venture PUBLIC Bikes, a San Francisco-based company that sells European-style bikes.
Based on his success in creating community-focused retail, Forbes urged retailers to find a way to be more relevant in the urban environment. He discussed the reversal of a 50-year trend, stating that cities are culturally changing and urbanism is the future. This creates new realities for retailers and gives them the opportunity to become a part of the movement and take some risks.
Want to learn more? Check out VMSD magazine’s Q&A with Rob Forbes.
This year’s IRDC conference was a true success in providing thought-provoking sessions and feeding our hunger for inspiration. We’re looking forward to see what next year’s conference will bring in the Windy city!
A note from the editors: Look for Gretchen’s full report on IRDC conference sessions in the Fall issue of The Gist.