What the Future holds for Retail Designers






Amidst a discussion on capitalism, I heard a few phrases that were alarming to me. “We don’t need more retail designers”. “We don’t need more shops.” “And we certainly don’t need more products”. Seeing as I am an interior designer with most of my experience held in the retail sector, such phrases make me pause and ponder the future of my profession.


It is true that consumer behaviour is shifting and buyers are looking more for experiential design. But does that mean shops are becoming obsolete? Are brands going to sell solely via their online portals and not have a physical shop to showcase their collections?


After researching the topic, it is to my understanding that the future is Omni-channel retailing. This means mixing physical and digital experiences. One example that has pioneered in this is Burburry flagship store. They are the most technologically advanced when it comes to in store virtual experience.

The future of retail is Immersion and interactivity. Customers will want to interact with the space. Most buyers are now inclined to shop online, but some still visit the store for the experience. If retail spaces are no longer providing the customer with an experience that stimulates their senses and connects with them with the brand, the customers will no longer be eager to visit the shops.

There are many shops now providing in store workshops on print screening, pottery, or even having DJ’s perform in store to add another layer to the in-store experience.

Another key element to winning the customer is personalisation and exclusivity. Using customer’s data to understand their behaviour, style and desires and cater to their needs.

And lastly, using Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality to provide a 3D multi-sensory experience, which allows the customer to engage with the brand.

Are you a Creative Person or a Business Person?

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I was once asked in a job interview for a position as a design director if I consider myself a creative person or a business person. At the time I answered, a creative of course!

That question lingered in my head accompanied with an irritating sensation, perhaps because I didn’t want to choose one or the other, or perhaps because by choosing creativity, I’ve discredited myself as an entrepreneur, or so I thought.

It is the characteristics of a creative mind that drove me to take bold steps in my career, ceasing every opportunity, taking risks and making unconventional business decisions.

American businessman and investor Mark Cuban predicted early 2017, that the most sought-after job in the next ten years will be creative thinking.

It takes a certain level of creativity to find problems in the business that others may not see and think of different solutions that others can’t think of. So can a creative person be a business leader? And can business person learn creativity?

The answer is yes. DESIGN THINKING is now taught in universities such as Stanford and Kingston and in independent IDEO workshops and is adopted by companies to teach leaders the process of thinking creatively, discovering deeper insights and coming up with innovative solutions.

Kees Dorst, studied the behaviour of design experts for fifteen years. He explains that the core of what design thinking should be, is finding new approaches to problems.

Nowadays, a crucial element to success is the ability to think divergently as well as convergent. Traditional business leaders who are only capable of thinking analytically are falling behind as younger entrepreneurs are maximising their potential by using their design thinking tools to improve their businesses and make a significant and meaningful impact in society as well as the business world.







  After working for fourteen years as an interior designer. I have decided to study again as I still face challenges with the industry.

July is when I received my acceptance letter to the Masters course, Managing in the Creative Economy. I am taking two of the modules this year. One is called Mapping the Creative Economy and the other one is called Design Thinking.

It is September and I am so excited to quench my thirst for knowledge. So, I put on my trench coat and my trainers and head to Kingston University, attempting to look 10 years younger than I am so that I can blend in with the students.

Two weeks through and I am already rethinking my work process and whether I should be spending my nights studying and my breaks meeting my team to work on the course project, when I am swamped with work deadlines.

It is Christmas time and I signed a new project in Spain! The client has requested my services to help him with a design dilemma. He specifically asked me to involve him in the process and mentioned that he wants to take a non-traditional route that would help him learn more about his newfound passion for design.

An unusual request requires an unconventional approach. I have been writing contracts since 2011 and it has always been the same template. Something different needed to be done this time.

I decided to apply the method of mind mapping, from the book “Creative Confidence”. It is a form of brainstorming and a tool that helps you think divergently. This lead me to create a new design proposal that catered to my client’s requirements without jeopardising the design or compromising the value of my time. It worked like magic!