Joint winners for Pizza Express category at RetailEXPO design awards

The winners of the final category in the RetailEXPO Student Design Awards 2020 have been announced.

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 sessions this year took place via video-conferencing.

This year a brief from Pizza Express was set for students at Middlesex University and Ravensbourne University, by Pizza Express design manager Alison Foden. The brief challenged the students to create a new 'grab and go' format, with a simplified menu, for busy travel hubs such as airports and train stations.

The brief called for the format to provide the signature Pizza Express experience in a fast-moving, high footfall environment, by using the pizza oven as a focal point. The brand required a simple and functional customer flow to make the most efficient use of space in a unit measuring no more than 60 sq m. Intended for time-poor travellers, the format could use Pizza Express branding, or operate under the ZA brand which was recently launched for at Fenchurch Street Station in London, to sell pizza by the slice.

As with the earlier categories – tackling briefs set by Pets at Home and Berghaus – the juding panel consisted of retailers and design experts. Previous brief setter The Body Shop was represented by global store design and VM director Jo Percival and global store design manager Amy Duke, and Specsavers by 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 also brought their experience and expertise to the judging panel.

The judges were impressed by the entries, awarding joint winner status to two students.

Joint winners

Ashna Butt, Living Kitchen - Middlesex University

The Living Kitchen, by Ashna Butt
The Living Kitchen, by Ashna Butt

The judges loved the humanistic aspect of this entry, based on coming together around a table.  

The pizza maker is the 'hero', adding a touch of theatre to the more leisurely dining section. The design integrates takeaway and short-stay sections so customers can choose how they wish to eat, according to the time they have before their journey.

Ligia Popa, Pizza by Slice - Middlesex University

Za - Pizza By The Slice, by Ligia Popa
Za - Pizza By The Slice, by Ligia Popa

The judges described this as a contemporary design that draws on heritage, with an elegant use of materials and colour. Details such as triangular pizza boxes showed fine attention to detail.


Sophie Bennett, Pizza Express Arcade - Ravensbourne University

Pizza Express Arcade, by Sophie Bennett
Pizza Express Arcade, by Sophie Bennett

The judges felt this design was off the wall and in many ways dystopian, but commended it for its originality and bold use of colour. They could see elements such as the dough balls dispenser working as a standalone feature in more conventional Pizza Express outlets.

Special mention

Micaela Favia, Through the Window - Middlesex University

The judges felt that of all the entries this was the strongest at offering a 'grab & go’ service. 


Adela Spalenkova, ZA – Middlesex University

Selina Picker, Pizzeria Moderna – Middlesex University