Shop window design competition puts spotlight on AUT students

More than 50 students from AUT will be unleashed upon the shop windows of selected retailers in Auckland’s Newmarket shopping district as part of a competition led by AUT, Spaceworks Design Group and the Newmarket Business Association. The winning student will score a two-week internship at what’s been described as the best department store in the world – Selfridges London.

The competition is part of a drive to bring more attention to shop window design. The 51 participating students from AUT’s ‘Mars’ department, which encompasses marketing, advertising, retail and sales, will be asked as part of their course curriculum to create shop windows that are imaginative, on-brand and of an international standard.

Window displays are important to the success of the store, and have a wider impact on the brand’s longevity, says Lizzi Hines, chief executive and creative director of Spaceworks.

“The retail industry is experiencing an incredible transformation over recent years with fast evolving shopper behaviors and trends. The onset of technology and what shoppers expect from a retail experience is completely different now to what it was two years ago,” Hines says.

“One thing that’s for certain is that retail store windows are evolving as fast as the other retail trends. No longer can we throw product in the window without strategic thought and purpose. A window design should now tell a story, be on brand and close the omnichannel  loop.”

Hines will mentor the students during the briefing and design process before the windows are unveiled for judging on May 16. The students will be divided into 13 groups of three or four, which will each be assigned a retail store to work on. Their windows will be on show for two weeks, with the winning window announced at the Newmarket Business Awards on June 17.

The judging panel consists of Andrew Parsons, professor and head of Mars department at AUT; Mark Knoff-Thomas, chief executive of the Newmarket Business Association and Sarah Dunn, editor of NZRetail magazine and The Register.

“It is a breath of fresh air that two highly regarded establishments in the retail industry, namely AUT and the Newmarket Business Association are collaborating and spearheading an initiative such as this,” Hines says. “We’re proud of our Kiwi retail designs however there’s no reason why our stores can’t be on the world stage alongside London, New York and Rome. We have talent abound, so it’s our time to shine.”