The third edition of UK event Retail Design Expo (8-9 May) concluded on Tuesday evening. Companies from every strand of retail design – from lighting manufacturers and flooring suppliers to branding consultancies and visual merchandising specialists – gathered at the Olympia Exhibition Centre in west London.
Here, our pick of five highlights across the spectrum:
Form of the future
Newly established mannequin specialist Forming Reality is the first contender to focus its output on 3D printed mannequins. Founded by a team of retail veterans, client meetings often take place in the company’s VR showroom. “The industry is changing – speed and agility are central to most retailers and brands today. We can deliver bespoke mannequins to precise specification in a week at affordable prices,” said Forming Reality mannequin director Julie Foster, whom we met amidst a gaggle of mannequins at FR’s booth.
Around the bend
MJ Lighting illuminates retail spaces and art establishments in creative ways (it’s behind Nike’s in-store Chevron feature in London and the LED chandelier hanging at Galeria Melissa in the same city, for instance). LightFlex Wave was among the many bespoke solutions on display at the expo this year. Brought out last year, this flexible LED strip provides a continuous homogenous glow, and it can bend with a radius as small as 20cm.
Raccoon’s notable tie-ups
Sustainability is at the forefront of brand production agency Raccoon. The Kent based contender’s booth was awash with green solutions, showcasing a biodegradable range derived from renewable sources. The store-like booth was created from Re-board, of which Raccoon is an official partner. The feature that stirred the most interest, however, was the sleek GlassMovie rear projection film applied to the mock shop front. The invention, created by Mactac, delivers a high image resolution and the film can be cut to any size.
Pick me up!
Eindhoven based tech company Nexmosphere offers a catalogue of interactive retail solutions, allowing clients to mix and match components to suit their in-store needs. A screen and interactive shelf set-up was the centerpiece of Nexmosphere’s stand, to which a proximity sensor was added. A single sneaker stood on each shelf, and when picked up, the screen shared information on the style, offering comparative details of shoes lifted on adjacent shelves.
And the winner is…
Brought about to promote and encourage the “future stars of retail design”, Retail Design Student Awards 2017 invited students from six colleges to take part, namely Glasgow School of Art, the University of Huddersfield, Kingston University, Manchester Metropolitan University, Middlesex University and the University of Portsmouth. This year, Adidas was among the companies setting design challenges (the other two being Majestic Wine and Pret A Manger), with a brief to create a retail environment sure to captivate the creative customer of tomorrow, while celebrating the brand’s long heritage. Ka Wing Chan of Middlesex University was announced as the Adidas project winner. The judging panel’s verdict: “It has a strong story-telling dynamic and clarity. It feels like a new world, the future.”