History of Retail Window Design By Nancy Kline

By way of introduction, Lisa Kline is my daughter. In 1995, Lisa opened her first clothing store boutique at 136 South Robertson Blvd. in Los Angeles, California. At the time, only large department stores had elaborate window treatments. I envisioned designing original window displays to make her stores unique.

While growing up, I was fascinated by the department store window displays. I would stand in front of  them in awe of what someone has created. Now, I had the chance to begin the process of creating a look for Lisa’s store that would attract people walking on Robertson.

I had no formal training in retail window design. There were no textbooks or any other guide to follow. I excitedly took on the task, and my very first window design was debuted on Lisa’s opening night on August 5th 1995. It was a garden design.

Lisa was always fun to work with and she had no boundaries. I too, had no boundaries when it came to window design. I started the concept of window themes. Every month her window had a new display. The mannequins were dressed to compliment the window design and became a part of the theme.

I never imagined that the one window in one store would become many windows in many stores! As Lisa expanded her stores, I expanded with her.

In 2004, I began teaching college interns who were enrolled in FIDM and CSUN in their Visual Communications program. Most of them were postgraduate students. They were able to design their own window under my supervision. “Retail display windows are works of art to tell a story and capture the interest of the customer”, I explained to them. The students were taught to develop, design, and implement a window display from the idea to the finished product. As a judge on a panel, I critiqued the senior portfolios at FIDM in all areas of design.

The window displays became an integral part of the Lisa Kline stores. They were kept a secret each month until they were displayed. It was always a surprise for Lisa when she saw the finished product! Every month, I would say to Lisa, “This is the best window!” Lisa would say, “You say that every month!” The designs became more realistic and incorporated fresh flowers, sea shells, sand, logs, leaves, pine cones, and food products. The apples were often eaten by the customers! My ideas became boundless. Many times I would have to create my own props. The handmade props became works of art within the display.

Some of my theme windows were “How to Marry a Millionaire”, “Disney” and McDonalds”.

I have designed over 175 windows. Several of my window designs were featured in magazines. The following photographs represent some of the window displays from 1995 to 2007 at Lisa Kline (Los Angeles), Lisa Kline Men (Malibu), and Lisa Kline Outlet (Los Angeles)


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