24 | www.retailenvironments.org RETAIL ENVIRONMENTS january.february.2014
immediate tangible benefit to the retailer.
“It’s an invaluable mirror on your brand
from the vital perspective of the upcoming
generation of brand builders and designers,” he explains.
As sponsor, Sephora had five members of
its design team serving on the panel of
industry experts that judged the entries.
The team was impressed with the entries.
“The caliber of the entries made it diffi-
cult to select the winners, each of whom
excelled at both the strategic articulation
of their concept and the visualization,”
Loux says. “The winning students were
those best able to outline a framework for
thinking about the brand and then demon-
strate how that led to their physical design
Judges lauded the winning students
from the Store Design category for their
compelling shopping journeys, integration
of technology, and drama. Judges praised
the winning Visual Merchandising stu-
dents for reflecting the customer perspec-
tive, engaging shoppers with interactivity,
creating moments along the shopping jour-
ney, and facilitating purchase decisions.
Winners were honored at the annual PAVE
Gala in New York in December. But a pat
on the back isn’t their only reward. Both
students and schools can win cash prizes.
This year PAVE awarded $19,000 to winning students and $6,000 to their schools.
The grants help student winners in several ways. The monetary awards, of course,
address the ever-present need to offset the
cost of their education and living expenses.
In addition, the awards validate students’
work—and, say educators, the possibility of
winning cash motivates students.
The schools use their own prize money in
ways that benefit students as well. CSULB
channels the award money into a schol-
arship fund for students. Humber uses it
for student awards. FIT, which boasts 12
winning projects in the last five years, has
even built a computer lab with the fund-
ing. UC looks to create career opportunities
by funding student travel to the Gala with
Explains Davies, “The challenge and
PAVE Gala open a network to the winners
that is as significant if not more so than
the prize money.” He adds that winning
the 2011 store design challenge created
career-long opportunities for one of his
students. “In addition to professional networking, the challenge and Gala have provided at least one UC student in four of the
last five years with their first experiences of
New York City and its design culture.”
GAUGING THE FUTURE
Working with students reveals a glimpse
into the future. Sephora’s Loux believes the
biggest challenge facing tomorrow’s retail
designers and visual merchandisers is also
their greatest strength—a channel-free
“They’re not mired in the historical definitions of one type of channel and brand
experience versus another,” Loux says. As
today’s retail environments professionals attempt to move beyond a mindset of
pairing digital and hardscape brand experiences, their stores will benefit from a generation of designers who don’t link brand
experience to point of contact at all.
But in a constantly connected infinitely
multichannel mode, young designers can
miss the singular focus on a touchpoint
that’s necessary for good retail expression.
“The physical aspect of retail design can’t be
deduced from virtual brand positioning or
social connection,” says Loux. “The perfect
blend will be if all of us, across experiences,
generations, and perspectives, can learn
from one another.”
“It’s an invaluable
mirror on your
brand from the
of the upcoming
—Paul Loux, Sephora
Jo Rossman, LEED AP
ID+C, GPAP, is manager
of sustainability and
designer programs for
the Association for
Contact her at jorossman
retailenvironments.org or 954-241-4821.
At Sephora’s office in San Francisco, judges carefully weigh the merits of each entry.
The process takes a full day.