On the 12th and 13th of June 2019 our Creative Director, Neville Wills and I were invited to attend the first ever Visual Merchandising Festival in South Africa. VM Forward Festival, hosted in Cape Town by VM Central and Olive Studio it was an exciting Global Trend exhibit and interactive event. A one of a kind, exciting experience which showcased innovation and design in the retail space. In a time where many retail giants are struggling with overstocks, a massive drop in sales and door closures it becomes imperative that stores are more attractive than ever. Offering a unique experience to customers has become increasingly important as a method of drawing the shopper in. Prior to the event selected invitees were supplied with mannequin heads to decorate, there was no brief or limitations – just an interactive and fun activity. TDC&Co participated with a very stylised, high fashion head created by myself and Mariska. An expert panel of local and international speakers which included Marco Ouwerkerk –CEO & Owner Hans Boodt Mannequins in the Netherlands, Nina Tillet – the founder of Minki Balinki – a UK based Design and Production studio (with plans to create the set for the next AfrikaBurn). Minki Balinki’s visual creations are mind blowing, stretching the imagination beyond what one would have thought possible in a retail space. During breaks between speakers demonstrations were done by Sam Beadle – a UK based Wig Maker who was busy creating wig for mannequins. Most captivating of all the guests was Matthew Brown (Retail Futurist, VM Trend Specialist and Owner of EcoChamber) on the topic of the Future of Retail Speaking from his experiences at his London based creative, retail intelligence agency. A quote from his presentation that we really felt strongly about is “Retail doesn’t end at store design, Visual Merchandising and detailed Point of Sale are the layers that are required to captivate and entice your audience”. Customer experience cannot end at an innovative store, as seasons change the displays need to feel updated and in sync with the brands offering, beyond what is for sale. Trends are Global, trends reflect how we feel, trends help us prepare for the Future. The “old rule of Retail” – Value and Mass means cheap and nasty. The cliché of thinking outside of the box, literally means, think outside of the box. With many mass and value brands now honing in on what their customers are meeting in their stores, these spaces are becoming enjoyable places where customer and product can be put first. There is an outcry from marketers and thought leaders to bring brands and products to life. Inspire, by being creative, to tell the story, to get social with immersive experiences. Design Elements with Brand Personality, there is no limit to the stories that you can tell. There is value in Revolution.