ZenGenius is a Short North-based company that provides creative visual merchandising direction for local and national brands. Co-founders Joe Baer and Paul Cook (and their team, which includes local artists such as Natalie Wetzel and Chris James) have provided creative instruction for big names like Victoria's Secret, Apricot Lane and Peeps.

ZenGenius is a Short North-based company that provides creative visual merchandising direction for local and national brands. Co-founders Joe Baer and Paul Cook (and their team, which includes local artists such as Natalie Wetzel and Chris James) have provided creative instruction for big names like Victoria's Secret, Apricot Lane and Peeps.

The company is known for its innovative displays. Some of its creative undertakings include a 20-foot Christmas tree made of Peeps candy for the flagship store and a chandelier made out of tea bags to promote a New Albany-based tea brand.

We picked Baer's expert brain (he also teaches retail merchandising at CCAD) for insight on display trends and where to find the best windows in town.

On trends i n the window display scene:

There's a lot being done with technology. Stores are using movement, motion and lighting to capture attention.

There's definitely an eco-trend the industry is embracing. I've been seeing soy mannequins and more fixtures made from reclaimed items. And there's definitely a trend for more cleverness and hands-on, interactive displays.

Paper has become a great resource [for window designers] that's being used by stores like Anthropologie, which continues to wow everybody and raise the standards.

On strange things in the window:

There's a weird trend right now. Abstract mannequins wearing realistic wigs. I don't know why these trends come up, but I keep seeing this over and over. Like light-sculpted mannequins or all-silver mannequins wearing human wigs. You can see it at American Apparel in the Short North - the same white mannequin with the same brunette wig.

On window displays in Columbus:

Something is happening in the Short North. I've seen more clever window displays and people paying attention to the windows than before. Artist Bryan "Bam Bam" Grey makes displays for Surly Girl and Three Dog Bakery. Cute. Really cute. There's Europia and Big Rock Little Rooster.

The Short North has a window display competition during Christmastime, but I'm seeing these clever windows all year now. To me, it's great. Window shopping is classic entertainment ... I think Joe Valenti of Flower Child started putting together these amazing displays. Maybe it was his windows [that inspired the change]. Whatever it was, people are changing out the windows more. It's exciting to be a part of that creative community. You can go by and consistently see something new.