It’s evidence that retail design is generally misunderstood, and often viewed as a superficial offshoot of design that lags behind the heavyweights of graphic, web and industrial design.
We see further evidence when clients resort to engaging architects to create their store design, explaining their decision with: “We thought that that’s how stores were built?!”
At Double, we believe that retail design is a class of design in its own right. Our experience tells us that the process of designing, developing and delivering a store to your client is a hugely complicated practice, and its numerous considerations can be tested in truly unpredictable manners.
So why is it that when we say ‘retail design’ to anyone outside of the industry, it’s met with confusion or ignorance? Why are people not exposed to the idea of an industry set up to solve a clear retail problem, in the same way that they are with established ideas of design occupations? Why are brands all over the world seeking out architects to solve their problems with retail, when architects are not directly trained to do so?
The root of the problem
Perhaps the root of the problem is within education. Go to almost any university in the land and you’ll likely see prospectuses for graphic design, web design, interior architecture, product design – the list can go on. Yet we so rarely see courses set up for retail design.
The role of a designer, project manager or engineer (to name but a few within a typical business) is often so involved and varied, that there is clearly a comprehensive selection of material to teach and develop within education. It would be truly beneficial to the industry and to the name of retail design in general, to have more respected universities around the world providing courses that specifically hone the skill sets required for designing for retail.