Double winners for Retail Expo Student Design Awards

The first set of winners have been announced for the annual RetailEXPO Student Design Awards 2020.

Every year three retail brands set challenges for students at a number of colleges. Their efforts at tackling these briefs, supported by mentors from major design agencies, are then judged by a panel of experts chaired by design industry consultant Lynda Relph-Knight.

Due to Covid-19 lockdown measures the judging took place via video-conferencing this year, with the brief set by outdoor brand Berghaus the first to be considered. The brief was created by Katie Greenyer and Andrew Cooper at Berghaus parent group Pentland Brands.

The brief called for a full-price retail environment that could be a permanent flagship or a pop-up store, but should present the Berghaus brand is an engaging way, encouraging repeat visits and bringing the products to life. Students were asked to consider how the store could be the centre of a community, and how it would connect to the digital world.

The challenge was tackled by third year students from Glasgow School of Art, mentored by Ross Hunter of Graven Images, and second year students from the University of Huddersfield, mentored by Lloyd Blakey of Innovare.

Unusually, joint winners were chosen this year. “There were two outstanding entires that shone for very different reasons,” said Lynda Relph-Knight.

Joint winners:

Emese Stork, Glasgow School of Art – The Berghaus Cliffhanger. The judges described this entry as “an incredibly bold pop-up structure that captures the pioneering spirit of the Berghaus brand. The detail goes as far as specifying lighting. There is a clear customer journey too. And Emese has looked at social media opportunities".

The Berghaus Cliffhanger by Emese Stork
The Berghaus Cliffhanger by Emese Stork

Natasha Henderson, University of Huddersfield - Centred round a campfire, this entry puts the customer at the heart of the store. “The customer journey is very well considered, as is creating an appropriate experience. The retail aspects are resolved in a way that would work commercially,” said the judges.

Natasha Henderson's campfire design
Natasha Henderson's campfire design


Klaudia Radlinska, Glasgow School of Art - Commended for the carefully considered use of materials and the clarity and freshness of the presentation.

Klaudia Radlinska's interpretation of Berghaus
Klaudia Radlinska's interpretation of Berghaus

Special mention:

Krystian Pycinski, University of Hudderfield - Four Seasons was the only shortlisted entry to incorporate digital features in the design, going beyond an app or QR code.

4 Seasons by Krystian Pycinski
4 Seasons by Krystian Pycinski


Tallulah Oellerich, Glasgow School of Art - Design your own Berghaus

Luke Pierce, University of Huddersfield - The Standard

The judging panel for 2020 consisted of retailers and design experts. Previous brief setter The Body Shop is represented by global store design and VM director Jo Percival and global store design manager Amy Duke, and Specsavers future store designer Tesh Chauhan.

Gensler principal Jon Tollit, Dalziel & Pow design project leader Anna Sanders, Quinine founder Ian Johnston, AHMH architect Franceso Draisci and independent interaction designer Ross Phillips are all bringing their experience and expertise to the judging panel too.

The RetailEXPO Student Design Awards has developed a reputation for setting challenges that give many students their first taste of a real commercial brief, and their first experience of working with a top design agency. The scheme has helped to identify a number of talented young designers.

The scheme is well-supported by the retail industry. Briefs for the 2019 competition were set by Costa Coffee, The Body Shop, and the Co-Op. Kingfisher, KFC, Red or Dead, John Lewis, Ted Baker, Pentland Brands, Oasis, Browns Fashion, and Topshop are among the companies that have all set challenging briefs for students in past years.

Results for the other two categories of this year's awards are due to be announced soon. The briefs were set by Pets at Home and Pizza Express.