Winning DMU students prove their creative potential in the retail design industry


De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) students have walked off with all three of the highest honours in the UK’s premier retail design challenge.

Interior Design students fought off tough competition from universities across the country to scoop gold, silver and bronze for their creativity.

Interior Design Awards.MAIN

DMU's winning Interior Design students with judges - L to R (on the right) Khushi Gami, Aurelie Grimont and Bhavisha Chavda.

Their design concepts and case studies of some of the biggest high street brands were recognised at this year’s Student Design Awards.

Bhavisha Chavda was awarded gold, Aurelie Grimont took silver and Khushi Gami got bronze in front of hundreds of people from top agencies, brands and retailers.

The three DMU students worked on their designs in their free-time for about three months and had to present their work to a panel of judges from the retail design industry.

Industry association POPAI organises the annual competition, which is open to all university design students, and recently announced the winners at the Retail Design Expo in London.

Bhavisha hopes showcasing her work to the retail design industry will be a great help for her future career.

The final-year degree student designed an interactive display on Marc Jacobs’ fragrance Decadence. Using the fragrance bottle’s handbag shape as inspiration, she designed an interactive vanity unit with decadent gold coins and blocks.

Bhavisha said: “I was really surprised when I won, I wasn’t expecting it all.

“I’m currently looking for a job and would love to work in retail or hospitality design so this win is going to be a massive help. I will put it on my CV and highlight the achievement in interviews when competing against other candidates.”

Bhavisha, 25, will attend the POPAI Awards 2018 black-tie awards dinner in London in October and receive a trophy and cheque for £1,000.  The POPAI website explains that the competition celebrates the role of retail marketing and winning the trophy is ‘seen as a symbol of true creative potential and will mark you out as a star of the future.’

Aurelie, who is studying for an Interior Design MA, said choosing a brand and creating a design display was ‘an amazing opportunity.’

She chose H&M and was inspired by the shop’s clothes recycling scheme, adding her own design ideas suggesting that clothes should be stored in boxes rather than bins.

Aurelie, 26, who is originally from Belgium, said: “It was really exciting and really challenging. I was a little nervous to present to the judges as English is my third language and I couldn’t find the right words for what I wanted to say.

“But I did it and I’m hoping it will open more doors for me. I want to travel and find an English-speaking job, maybe in retail or events design.”

Khushi’s display used the ‘London-look’ to promote Rimmel Cosmetics centred around a touch-screen display.

The 22-year-old final-year degree student, who also did an industry placement year, said: “I was so happy to be recognised as retailers from across the UK were at the exhibition.

“I was quite surprised when I heard my name, but it will be great to have this industry competition on my CV.”


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Stuart Wright, Senior Lecturer in Interior Design at DMU, said: “It should be recognised that these three students committed so much to this competition while at a critical point in their studies and working on key major projects here at university.

“This makes this acknowledgment from industry even more impressive and demonstrate true commitment to their chosen discipline of design.”

It comes just a few months after Interior Design students won first place in the British Institute of Interior Design (BIID) student challenge. The one-day competition challenged students to consider a ‘Hub for the Third Age’ for older people looking for employment opportunities.

Posted on Wednesday 20th June 2018

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