Take a peek inside the world of the Arte Vetrina Project.
Like everyone else driving north of Beirut during evening rush hour, Omar Pallante was stuck in traffic. But unlike everyone else, he was inspired.
He spotted a billboard cloaked in fabric. It’s a prosaic sight for many Beirutis, accustomed to the ever-changing roadside ads and construction. But to Pallante, it was inspiration. The fabric was billowing in the wind; it looked like water, or the sail of a ship, covering the ad underneath. He pulled over and took a video with his iPhone.
Back in Italy, he met with his team at Arte Vetrina Project, a company that designs and builds high-concept installations for window displays and fashion shows. In preparation for a children’s fashion show at Pitti Bimbo in Florence, they created an enormous cube, which he then covered in fabric. During the fashion show, as miniature models walked down the catwalk wearing the latest in micro-fashion, machines blew fake wind to make the walls come alive. “Everything was in movement,” he says.
Pallante, too, is always in motion. Work brings him from his studio in Bologna, Italy, to Milan every week, and to Beirut and elsewhere in the Middle East six to seven times a year. He meets with clients – department stores like Aïshti, as well as fashion retailers like Calvin Klein.
When he returns from trips, he works with the rest of his staff to bring new ideas into action. Pallante has a team based in Padua that focuses exclusively on creative work, visiting museums, and coming up with ideas, but his employees acknowledge that he’s the chief source of creativity.
It seems it’s the work he was born to do. When he was growing up, his parents ran a window design company in Italy, and he and his siblings helped out before they even understood what a mannequin was for, and why they might have so many large, human-shaped dolls stored in the house. Eventually, he started his own company, the Arte Vetrina Project.
To create Aïshti’s windows, Pallante focuses on straightforward concepts executed with the best materials. “If you have a look at the Aïshti window everything is perfect, like a painting,” he says. Passersby sometimes stop to offer advice: move something here, or over there. He welcomes this feedback.
For an upcoming display the team purchased some of the finest mannequins in the world, made in Italy and costing over $1,000 each (by contrast, a Chinese-made mannequin might cost only $100). When it comes to luxury, only the best will suffice. To use an ordinary mannequin, Pallante says, would be like “selling a Ferrari in a parking garage.”
For all his creativity, Pallante acknowledges that his work is foremost about selling products. That’s a challenge when people are changing the way they shop, with many shoppers becoming more goal-oriented about their purchases. But for those days when you don’t know what you want, Pallente’s designs are there to show off something “that is so special that you come in and buy it.”