Brain Food: We'd love that job - Shop display designer

Erin Thompson head of visual merchandise and 3D, Selfridges. What do you do?

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

I'm in charge of product presentation across Selfridges' stores. This is creative, fun stuff. If the theme is 'punk', I work out how to present it in a fresh way. It involves thinking on my feet, 24-7. The customers are like a herd of wildebeest and I have to keep them moving through the store but grab their attention while they're there.

How did you get the job?

Like most people who work in visual merchandising, I just fell into it.

I studied fashion design and was working in retail when I discovered it existed. It's easy to get passionate about. The money helps, but you're doing it because you love it.

Does reality match the dream?

It really does. I work with the best product in the world, in the best retail environment. Sometimes it's mundane - working out how many pairs of folded jeans will fit along a 25-metre wall - but each promotion is bigger and more exciting than the last. The Brazil and Vegas displays were both fantastic, and I once worked for six months with a Chinese artist building a city out of biscuits. It's completely temporary, as everything gets pulled down ready for the next one. Some find that soul-destroying, but I like it. You're constantly moving on and if you get something wrong, you can get it right next time.


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