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2023 Retail Design Legion of Honor Inducts 5 New Legionaries

Pictured from Left to Right: Bevan Bloemendaal, RDI, Mardi Najafi, RDI, Ray Ehscheid, FRDI, Rebekah Sigfrids, Ryan McNulty, Cynthia Ortiz, RDI, Sanjay Agarwal, RDI, Ron Pompei, and Joe Nevin, FRDI

On Tuesday, October 10th, five new legionaries were inducted into the prestigious Retail Design Legion of Honor during the Institute's 52nd International Design Awards program in New York City.

The Retail Design Institute would like to congratulate the newest Legionaries John McNulty, Founding Principal, MBH Architects, Rebekah Sigfrids, SVP, Financial Center Design and Innovation, Bank of America, Sanjay Agarwal, RDI, Co-Founder and Managing Director, FRDC, Mardi Najafi, RDI, Vice President, Retail Strategy & Design, Figure3, and Ron Pompei, Founder, Principal, Creative Director, Pompei C3.

"While much of our industry’s recognition focuses on project recognition, the Legion of Honor is based on a 360-degree view of professional, industry, and personal accomplishment. This year's class across a broad spectrum of career settings, geographies, and journeys represents the best our industry has to offer! Congratulations!" said Legion of Honor Chairman, Ken Nisch, AIA, FRDI.

The 2023 Retail Design Legion of Honor Induction Ceremony was conducted on behalf of Chairman Ken Nisch by fellow Legionaries Joe Nevin, FRDI, Senior Vice President, Development, JLL, and Bevan Bloemendaal, RDI, Senior Principal, Chief Brand and Creative Officer, NELSON Worldwide.

The first Legion of Honor Medal for the evening was awarded to John McNulty, Founding Principal of MBH Architects. Accepting on McNulty's behalf was his son Ryan McNulty, who shared his father's humble sentiments that this award is "not about him" but an honor he shares with every teammate, partner, and client of MBH who he has had the privilege of collaborating with. Taking lessons learned in his time at Gensler, McNulty founded MBH Architects on the principles of developing talent from within with an outlook emphasizing the importance of teamwork and communication to better serve their clients. This coupled with their dedication to thoroughly understanding the business and needs of each of their distinct clients has led to MBH being ranked #6 in Building Design + Construction's Top Retail Architecture firms for 2023.

Rebekah Sigfrids, SVP, Financial Center Design and Innovation from Bank of America was the second legionary to be inducted for the evening. During the acceptance of her medal, Sigfrids shared words of wisdom and career lessons taught to her by fellow members of the Legion of Honor who have made a lasting impact on her career including Paul Lechleiter, FRCH, Elle Chute, RDI, Chute Gerdeman, and Bevan Bloemendaal, RDI, NELSON Worldwide. A hands-on leader with a passion for sketching, Rebekah has been designing retail environments from both the client and consultant sides of the business for the past 25 years, including Bank of America, Sephora, L Brands, and FRCH.

The next inductee to receive their medal was Sanjay Agarwal, RDI, Co-Founder and Managing Director of FRDC. He traveled from Bangalore, India to be a part of this momentous occasion. Agarwal was commended for his vision and significant impact in transforming the retail design landscape in India through his work with FRDC and beyond. During his acceptance speech, he expressed his gratitude to his colleagues, family, clients, and friends for supporting his vision and helping him achieve his goals. Additionally, he took a moment to thank the small shopkeepers in India who stepped up during the pandemic to support their communities. Agarwal is also the first inductee from India.

The fourth inductee for the evening was also the first Canadian inductee to the Legion of Honor- Mardi Najafi, RDI, Vice President, Retail Strategy & Design, Figure3. In his acceptance speech, Najafi expressed his gratitude to the teams, friends, and clients who he has had the opportunity to collaborate with throughout the years, and encouraged everyone in attendance to look to the future, continue to dream, and make their marks on the world one captivating experience at a time. From his early days sketching exhibit booths in Tehran to leading award-winning design teams in Toronto today, Mardi has made his mark on retail design through his dedication to his craft, zest for life, and collaborative spirit. Mardi currently serves as the President of the Canada Chapter of the Retail Design Institute.

The ceremony concluded with the induction of Ron Pompei, Founder, Principal, and Creative Director, of Pompei C3. Considered one of the world's most influential and exciting designers of retail stores and experiences, Pompei, as an award-winning multi-disciplinary artist, revolutionized the retail world with his design philosophy C3: Commerce, Culture, and Community™️. This is shown through Pompei's ability to transform the ordinary into extraordinary immersive visitor experiences. During the acceptance of his medal, he humbly thanked his multi-disciplinary team of creatives and emphasized the importance of creating spaces that people wanted to return to through brief stories and highlights from his career.

About the Legion of Honor:

In 2001, recognizing the retail design profession was driven not by business executives but by visionary designers, the Retail Design Institute established the Retail Design Legion of Honor. Since that time, the Institute has inducted 42 legionaries, nominated by Professional members of the Institute, for their contributions to Retail Design.

Notable inductees include Raymond Loewy and Bill Snaith (posthumously), who established themselves and their firms as leading product and store designers. Larry Israel was responsible for the open floor plan, while Dick Shipley was the pioneer of the total environmental design we practice today. Later, Jim Terrell, Ed Hambrecht, and Ken Walker would distinguish retail selling spaces they designed by way of interior architecture. Dudley Pope of Rich’s, Harry Le Grand, Myer Grace Brothers, and Barbara D’Arcy, Bloomingdale’s, put their respective stores into the record books. Alton Doody added marketing research and branding to our discipline.


About the Retail Design Institute

The Retail Design Institute is the retail industry’s creative professionals, founded in 1961 as a collaborative community where ideas, knowledge sharing, and commitment, inspire members to invest collaboratively in the fast-paced planning and design needs of retail.

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