Adriana Del Fabbro has a keen eye for detail, a skill that comes in handy when working as a visual merchandiser.
Del Fabbro is employed by Displayline, the largest supplier of shop fittings and fixtures in South Australia, and is responsible for many of the Christmas decorations installed across our state.
Preparation for Christmas is paramount to a visual merchandiser, so when it comes to Christmas at Displayline Del Fabbro says, “it’s all hands on deck”. She started planning for Christmas more than six months ago, working in Photoshop to design colour schemes for Christmas trees and garlands, window installations and store layouts. Photoshop and Illustrator are two of the most important tools of her trade as well as a measuring tape and a laser-measurer when out of the office and in the workshop.
The decorations range in size and number, from gigantic trees in the Adelaide Myer Centre and Krispy Kreme outlets, to elegant arrangements of bauble garlands in Regent Arcade. One tree can take up to four people to build and Del Fabbro is often up and down ladders in the process.
When asked about her own decorations at home Del Fabbro says, “I don’t think I will be putting a tree up in my house this year. My Christmas tree will be all the trees that I have helped decorate across Adelaide.”
Del Fabbro works with a large range of businesses, from country stores to fashion boutiques in the CBD and says that “no two jobs are ever the same” and that she is “constantly being challenged”. Inspired by fashion and armed with a background in retail. Del Fabbro’s true interests lie in building stores from the inside out.
“I have always been more interested in the way the garments are set up in the store, right down to the fixtures and type of clothing racks they use. When I realised that there was a job that did this I looked online and found that TAFE SA had a Diploma of Visual Merchandising.”
Starting her working life at Lincraft as a teenager, Del Fabbro gained knowledge of dressmaking, fabrics and textures.
“When I became interested in dress making,” says Del Fabbro, “I would look at fashion magazines and dissect how the garment would have been made; it made me look at the photo more in-depth. It wasn’t just a pretty dress in a glossy magazine anymore. I became obsessed with wanting to know how the design got to that stage, how the designer first envisioned it, what they were inspired by? Now when I walk into a store I still have these questions but it’s gone beyond just the garments, it’s the window displays, the layout of the store, the positioning of racks or mannequins, even down to the type of coat hanger.”
Designing a new store layout is a very rewarding aspect of her job. “I’m inspired to see an empty space transformed; from visualising a concept to watching it come together from paper to perfection. I love working with the skeleton of the store, creating something from the inside out.”
The visual merchandising process is a collaborative one says Del Fabbro. “You want to meet with your client at the location and discuss their ideas and look at the space you’ll be working with. There is a lot of measuring and a lot of questions. You need to assess every aspect of the space.”
When it comes to inspiration, Del Fabbro is always on the lookout with a keen eye on design. “I love looking at art and reading books or magazines. Online is definitely a great source for inspiration. I could be walking past a window and I am drawn to the colours they’ve used or the choice of lighting. I could be out shopping with a friend and wonder: “Why have they chosen to put the counter in that position and not in another?”
Now that Christmas is upon us, Del Fabbro is most looking forward to seeing her work for the season completed. “I can’t wait to go out and have a look at the finished product of our installations. I have already walked past a few and I love seeing other people taking photos or saying how beautiful the tree is – it’s a real sense of accomplishment.”
Leo Greenfield is a freelance illustrator