Showroom Design – It’s About the Message and Placement

Updated: Apr 28


In 1959, Dinah Washington, released a hit single called, “What a Diff’rence a Day Makes.” You may be familiar with it. To be accurate, there were other versions before and after. I mention this only because many years later, when I was just starting my career and working at a department store, the store’s display manager often walked around singing his own version; “What a Difference Display Makes.” He told me his goal was to make sure each of his displays “told the viewer a story” about the products on display and why a customer would want to buy them… without requiring anyone to give an explanation.

Showroom design is very much about story telling. It is about product placement. It is about creating an environment in which a customer can see themselves working along with the products in the display.

Many dealers only maintain a working showroom where their staff works. The design of these spaces is critical because it often tells the primary story about the dealer…good, bad, or indifferent. If the client is uncomfortable with the design of the dealer’s space and the products shown, it can negatively influence the amount of confidence they may have in letting them design their space. Form vs. Function Form follows function is a principle of design associated with late 19th and early 20th century architecture and industrial design in general. Form is the element that creates designs but function is the objective of the design. Form can include many different elements: color, texture, proportion, line, and shape. It includes design principles like composition, balance, rhythm, repetition, and dominance along with the theme, props, attention-getting devices, and signage.

While form is of course an important con