Barbara Wright: Check Your Backgrounds

optical design practice design Barbara Wright INVISION

Frames getting lost against busy backdrops? Here’s how to show ’em off without extra clutter

BY Barbara Wright

Published in the September-October 2014 issue

If you want maximum eye appeal for your frame displays, the background color and material of your display cases and frame boards can make or break your chances for effective display. The two most common errors I see in many practices are having dark stained wood as a backdrop or using mirror as a background.

A dark background of any kind makes the fine details and true colors of nearly any frame difficult for people to appreciate. Only white and bright colors can be seen against a dark background, but few practices stock enough of those frames to fill an entire display case.

optical design practice design Barbara Wright INVISION

Mirror backgrounds are fairly common because people think it’s clever to make that mirror do double duty for try-ons and display. But mirrors absorb light, and the reflection of the displayed frames just causes visual confusion — so mirrors do not help those frames get noticed.

No amount of additional lighting can compensate for a dark display case interior or a mirror behind the frames. Luckily, you can usually fix both these problems by covering the back wall of the display with white or ivory fabric, wall covering or a laminate panel. That will brighten up your whole optical.

The wrong backgrounds make these frames look boring.

The white interiors of these display cases help the frames pop!

Barbara L. Wright heads one of North America’s most award-winning and successful optical design firms, Barbara Wright Design. Barbara’s lively personality and humorous style backed with 30 years of “in the trenches” optical design experience make her a popular speaker and author. Get her free educational articles and videos on visual merchandising at