The Great Display: interview with Catherine Henderson of Fundamental displays

Please share with us a bit about your background/ I have always loved art, dance and theatre. I suck up all kinds of silly information and it all flitters around inside my mind. I studied in SA, worked and travelled around UK, Europe, Central Asia, Central America and Africa. I settled in Cape Town, South Africa and got caught up in the world of Advertising and then Retail specialising in Visual Merchandising. In 2007 after the birth of my first daughter I started my own creative studio specialising in visual merchandising. Today I am involved in exciting projects, tomorrow is a mystery.

How do you approach a new project?/ I itch with energetic excitement at any new project. I immediately see what could happen. I then have to reel all my thoughts in. Wind them around a bobbin and clap my hands, stamp my feet and look at the project again. Planning is crucial. Understanding a brand is crucial. I try to meet expectations, my own, my clients, my clients customer …. the list goes on. You have to think about everything and every possibility. As soon as the project feels impossible that is when you begin to plot things down and turn them into the possible.

Where or from who do you draw your inspiration? / Life. You. Me. Thoughts. Everything I see!

Are there any trends/stores/ideas that your excited about this year? / This year I love the idea of pop up shops, like supermarketsarah I think that is the future of retailing. I think big brand names are always going to be here but it is the little bright sparks and ideas that keep retail fresh and interesting.

If you had to pick, is there a store which is love at first sight in terms of visual design? / Anthropology …. and in South Africa I love Poetry, Woolworths and Long Street.

Do you work with a team or on an individual basis? How do you find this helps with putting ideas together? / Always a team. A team is a client, a designer, a stylist, a display artist, a shop fitter, a printer, a maker or manufacturer and an applicator. Each person has a specific skill and I project manage all those talented souls into an end result.

What are some of you favourite projects that you have worked on during your career? / I enjoy the process that starts from nothing, not even a thought, then somehow you are onto it…..then the process happens….until finally you see the result. When I worked in advertising I helped conceptualise a magazine. I enjoyed project managing the visual displays from concept through to implementation at a conference held at The Cape Town International Convention Centre.  I loved the Disney store in store project, especially winning the award, the Canterbury store in store project was time constrained and challenging but I was happy with the end result. Each one is so unique and full of their own story and experience….

What do you find are your biggest challenges?  / Patience!

What inspires you to continue? / A little song that my grandmother taught me that plays in my head everyday: “it’s love, it’s love, it’s love that makes the world go round. So pass it on to everyone”

A display is a magical place filled with beautiful merchandise and whimsical dreams and we pass that onto everyone!

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