Fall 2006
Fixtures that Work By Heather Larson

Tabula Tua

Tabula Tua, a tabletop specialty shop in Chicago, creates fixtures out of most things it sells.

Tabula Tua
Chicago, IL

Here, a wrought iron patio set is used temporarily to showcase the handmade artisan table settings the store stocks. Out back, beautiful handmade tiles might be pretty enough by themselves, but together they form an arresting, permanent piece of art for the store’s walls. Customers can order the entire set of tiles or place orders for individual pieces. The art also serves as a focus for the gift-wrap counter in the shop.

At Tabula Tua, the glass shelves and fixtures were made extra deep to handle all sizes of china and tabletop goods. Every space in the shop is used for maximum visual effect. A series of pillows on top of the china cabinet adds to the visual appeal of the display.

A weathered desk for sale in the store, is used as the focal point for a set of photo frames. At back, a series of wall slats is used to display the shop’s Japanese dinnerware. Oriental silk table linens, on a separate drying rack right alongside, help soften the display’s lines.

Out of the West

This store in Chicago exploits its cowboy “Old West” theme down to the last detail.

Out of the West
Chicago, IL

The shop’s log-cabin interior is an effective complement to the Western-themed merchandise it sells. The Western theme continues with the choice of wall decor and shelving made with rough-hewn edges. Together, the fixtures create a holistic look good enough to lasso even the most reluctant customer.

Even the jewelry sold is showcased in cases with Western touches. What’s better, these cases are also functional art. Each freestanding unit has storage space in the back to stash extra beads and baubles.


Moss, a Chicago-area shop that specializes in flowers and home-and-garden accent pieces, creates a very relaxed shopping atmosphere using the principles of feng shui.

Forest Park, IL

Everything in the store has minimal, clean lines – a fact accentuated by the ceramic vase in this display, which houses just a few stunning sprigs of dogwood. The silk linens against the back wall serve to emphasize the Eastern theme of the store.

A little advance planning helped maximize space in the store. Wall alcoves such as this one create stunning visual displays without taking up too much floor space. The flowers set out on a side table satisfy dual purposes. They create a dramatic display and inform customers about the day’s best flower picks.

Here products that might not stand out individually are grouped in cubbyholes to create a display that works. The look is clean, not cluttered. The placement of a few found objects and plants on the floor serves as an effective border without distracting too much from the central focus of the presentation.

Heather Larson

Larson is based in Tacoma, WA, and frequently writes about retail businesses.

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