Windows to the Square

Many a harried Harvard student hurries by his peers on a day to day basis without so much as a

Many a harried Harvard student hurries by his peers on a day to day basis without so much as a wave. So too do the unconscious window- shopping minions hurry by artfully arranged window displays without so much as an inclination to spend.

Holiday shopping season is fast approaching, however, and store managers are gearing up to showcase the art of window design and the rash purchases it can induce.

Typically only the lucky few who preside over “one-of-a-kind” stores are confronted with the possibility of window design. As an employee of the Gap on Brattle Street notes, all Gaps are created equal; the large retail company gives decoration direction to every Gap the world over from a main office. But the Square’s Urban Outfitters presents an anomaly in the category of chain stores. As manager Laurie A. Kluender notes, the store receives initial corporate direction but relies on a store-specific display artist to produce the store’s actual window arrangement. While this is a special situation for a chain store, Kluender says, “I think it’s part of the whole creative effort thing they believe in.”

The shops unique to the Square enjoy much more freedom in the area of window design. Both the Motto jewelry shop and Tess Boutique on Brattle emphasize the importance of color in their respective window displays. Brightly hued, draped scarves draw attention to the smaller jeweled pieces in Motto’s window, while the Tess Boutique puts emphasis on clean lines and a variety of colors. In these windows the bolder, the better.

Perhaps the most creative window design in the Square can be found at Modern Design Furnishings (MDF) and Calliope, a whimsical children’s store. Scott Seltzer, the enthusiastic manager and window designer at MDF reveals that window designing is “really more of an aesthetic than anything else—it’s what seems to feel right or pops into my head at the time!” The window of his shop features the work of the many artists who frequent the store. Presently seven artists’ exquisite pieces occupy the window space.

At Calliope, window designer and store owner Anne Lerner confesses the true scheme behind her work: an obsession with puns. “It’s a sickness with us! We’ve been doing it for 30 years, and we have people who wait to see what the pun of the month will be. People walking by will give a thumbs up if they like it, and we disappoint people when there’s no pun,” she says.

The Halloween window theme—“Nothin’ says lovin’ like somethin’ from the coven”—exemplifies Lerner’s creative process of deciding on a pun, finding some stuffed toys to go with it (in this case, witches), and then “sitting around and giggling” as ideas for the display take shape. As she adds glowingly, “We’re a little store with lots of window space—we want something cute and adorable that will make people smile. It’s like a performance every time we do windows!”

Window shopping is no longer for a lazy day—it’s a chance to experience art in the making.