Seniors win first place in competition

Sketch of the retail environment for "Foor Eyes."
Sketch of the retail environment for "Foor Eyes," drawn by the students.

A final project for three Department of Design students at Radford University provided clarity for their educational experience, where the students took home the top prize for a group project.

Bria Benner, Jacqueline Klancher and Bryan Sullivan won the top group prize for the Retail Design Institute’s (RDI) 2017 student competition for their project “Foor Eyes.” RDI promotes the advancement and collaborative practice of creating selling environments.

RDI holds an annual competition for students, challenging them to design a retail environment following a pre-defined set of requirements. This year’s competition required entries to design an eyewear retail store that incorporated cutting-edge technology into a retail environment.

“Our design solution was modern and streamlined with well-integrated technology for a user-friendly experience,” Benner said. “The branding and store layout in our final design solution also acted as a seamless interface between the brick and mortar store and the retailer's online website.”

The finished project, part of the students’ Senior Studio 2 course taught by Radford University Assistant Professor Yaman Sokienah, focused on various retail design applications.

“We decided to go for a modern design and keep it as sleek and simple as possible to really draw attention to the technology side of the business,” Klancher said. “Our focus on that and the branding that we created was what set us over the edge and got us this award.”

Sketch of the retail environment for "Foor Eyes."

Sketch of the retail environment for "Foor Eyes," drawn by the students.

The key to the “Foor Eyes” design was the ease of transitioning between the online retail environment and the physical retail environment.

Part of easing the shopping transition involves having the same categories in the retail environment and on the website.

“The benefit of fostering familiarity between websites and stores will help customers know what to expect,” Benner said. “If the store carries exactly what is found online and has a layout with signage similar to the website, there is no disconnect. Customers will be able to navigate the store more easily, be more accustomed to what their options are.”

The three students also increased that connection by having virtual-reality interactive spaces in both the retail and digital environments.  

“This element adds a hands-on feature to the retail environment, eases the shopping trip by allowing multiple frames to be visualized without physically locating all of them and connects customers back to the website,” Benner said.

In the process of creating the award-winning combination, the students praised the value of group work.

“Working with the same people for an extended period of time grows your understanding of who those individuals are as designers and people,” Benner said. “I love that.”

Klancher said that working as a group allowed them to “bounce ideas off of each other and come up with something no one had thought of before.”

Benner said that it was “a pleasure to work on this project with Bryan and Jackie.”

“Winning first place is such an honor after all of the hours of hard work put into completing our submission,” she said.

Jul 13, 2017
Max Esterhuizen