The PAVE challenge is also the main
focus of the curriculum in two classes at
the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in
New York. Students develop their concepts
in the Visual Merchandising class, and create a brand identity, signage, and presentation booklet in the Display Graphics class.
“They live and breathe this project for
eight weeks,” says Anne Finkelstein, FIT
adjunct associate professor of visual pre-
sentation and exhibition design. “We spend
a considerable amount of time talking
about how to make the student concepts
work for the brand, and how to appeal to a
real target market. We try to make every-
thing plausible, from the traffic flow to the
The University of Cincinnati (UC) has
been using the PAVE Student Design
Challenge as the brief for its fourth-
year interior design studio for five years.
“Retail has traditionally been the topic of
our fourth-year studio. The annual PAVE
Challenge demands a contemporary focus
each new academic year,” says Brian F.
Davies, associate professor in UC’s School
of Architecture and Interior Design.
As PAVE’s vice president of education,
Davies advocates incorporation of the com-
petition into design schools’ curriculum.
He believes the challenges balance stu-
dents’ desire to express future vision with
real-world boundaries. “This is empower-
ing to the students and assigns tangible
value to UC’s curriculum. Students in every
design program commit intense creative
energy and long hours to their projects, so
it is gratifying when these efforts inspire,
provoke, and/or inform near-term retail
Students need to learn on projects that
address actual brand goals for retail, agrees
Paul Loux, senior vice president of store
design at Sephora. “Solving a retail-specific
challenge offers students the opportunity
to work with a brand’s positioning and a
real application—a 3D case study, if you
will,” he says.
This was Sephora’s second time sponsoring PAVE’s Student Design Competition.
(The competition has been sponsored in
the past by Macy’s, Godiva, Target, Sony,
Bonobos, and others.) Loux believes sponsoring the competition not only helps
develop future talent, but also provides an
VISUAL MERCHANDISING CHALLENGE:
Create a customized presentation to
highlight Prestige Hair Care
Visual merchandising students were challenged to create a presentation that elevates
Sephora’s Prestige Hair Care, currently merchandised as a subset of Skincare, as its
own category, of equal prominence with other main categories. Students were to
design a suite of fixtures and merchandising signatures that build upon the brand’s
core presentation formula, yet create a suitably distinct voice for a curated assortment
of hair products and styling tools, led by a focus on styling trends that will change
several times throughout the year.
HONORABLE MENTION Jaemin Song
Fashion Institute of Technology | New York
University of Cincinnati | Cincinnati
Li May Foo
of Fine Arts |