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Future Retail Design: Retail Design Student Awards 2019

Updated: Mar 30, 2020

Earlier this month saw us celebrating at the Retail Design Expo with students from the six colleges who entered the Student Design Awards. As in previous years, I mentored the University of Huddersfield students who worked on a brief from Costa Coffee.

I’ve been involved with these Awards for several years now and really enjoy the process of mentoring the Huddersfield students. It’s a rewarding experience for me and for the students it’s a unique opportunity to be exposed to a ‘live’ brief from a major retail brand and to connect with a professional agency mentor.

Costa’s brief asked students to ‘think big in a small space’ and asked them to explore the smallest possible barista serviced store space.

“As the market leader Costa aims to continually push the boundaries and bring our customers new ways to enjoy our coffee. The RDE Student Awards has been a perfect opportunity for a fresh perspective from the designers of the future. As a designer myself, I was also personally keen to be a part of these awards that offer the students such a great opportunity for exposure – as an industry event it’s fantastic.” Sam Freshwater, Store Design Manager, Costa Coffee

“Having Sam on-board this year with his enthusiasm and clear brief was just brilliant! Right from the start he inspired the students with Costa’s pursuit to bring the world of coffee to life for its customers in ‘courageous, passionate and playful ways’. This obviously helped students to form exciting and challenging ideas.” Helen Darnell, Lecturer Interior Design, The University of Huddersfield

Following Sam’s initial brief, Helen and I worked closely with the students at key stages of the project, providing constructive feedback and helping them to explore their critical thinking. By encouraging as well as challenging their creative ideas we are able to open their minds and help them to optimise their design solutions.

At the end of this 9-month project, Sam, Helen and I chose the 3 strongest designs from the Huddersfield students to put forward to the Award’s judging panel. Though Glasgow School of Art bagged the judges’ ‘winner’ prize, we were nevertheless all delighted that the only Highly Commended Award went to Sarah Parkes from the University of Huddersfield. Apparently it had been a really close run thing so it was great to see Sarah’s design concept given this recognition by the judges.

Congratulations to Sarah Parkes for her Highly Commended design ‘Costa Pods’

Sarah’s innovative design scheme is intended for inside or outside train stations. Targeted at commuters of all ages, her ‘Pods’ offer an escape from the hustle and bustle of a busy station concourse. Their ingenious construction provides a very flexible solution to Costa’s brief.

Congratulations also to – Kamila Lemanska and Georgia Brook who were the other two Huddersfield Finalists selected by Costa to enter the award. Pictured here with Lloyd Blakey (far left), Sam Freshwater (third from the right) and Helen Darnell (far right)

Sharing a glass of bubbly with the students after the Awards ceremony, we were able to browse all the shortlisted entries on display at the Retail Design Expo and it certainly was inspiring to see all that new retail design talent in the making.

So ‘cheers’ to everyone who took part and we look forward to another successful Retail Design Student awards journey in 2020!


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