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49th International Design Competition Requirements Overview

The Institute’s 49th International Design Competition celebrates outstanding and innovative retail spaces that encourage new techniques in planning, design, graphics, fixturing, lighting and visual merchandising, to be considered as a whole.The Institute welcomes projects opened January 1 to December 31, 2019. Deadline to submit has been EXTENDED TO MONDAY, MARCH 2, 2020. There are more than 20 separate entry categories broken into broad retail concepts including: Brand & Brand Activation; Consumer Products & Lifestyle; Food & Beverage; Service Retail; and Unbuilt & Conceptual. Entries must include from 8 to 12 captioned images and a 750-word narrative outlining the project goals and objectives in addition to details about planning, customer journey, materials, lighting, fixturing and visual merchandising.

Contract design firms and in-house retailer design teams from around the globe are invited to submit projects covering all retail formats. (No entries accepted from general contractors, allied trades, fixture or visual merchandising manufacturers, material suppliers or owners’ representatives.) The competition seeks to recognize exceptional retail experiences ranging from full-line traditional department stores to specialty apparel stores and restaurants to kiosks and pop-up shops.

Register here .

Designers may submit more than one entry, but an individual project may not be entered in multiple categories. Please do not combine multiple store locations in your entry. (You may choose to enter each store separately.) At the discretion of the competition chair and the judges, an entry may be placed in another (more suitable) category. Judges may add or delete a category at their sole discretion. At their discretion, judges may choose to honor an entry with an Innovation Award.

This is a concealed-identity competition -- meaning judges are not permitted to know the name of the contract design firm responsible for overall design. Submitting companies are to comply as follows:

Only the entry form contains name of submitting company.

Note to retailer teams: You do not need to remove store signage from interiors or exteriors.

Note to contract design firms: You must remove references to your company in text, images, videos and floorplans. Failure to remove identification might result in disqualification. No fees can be returned.

Name of submitting company may not appear elsewhere on entry materials.

Each entry must include the following:

1. A signed and completed Entry Form plus a project | photography release form (both follow) for each entry.

2. A completed Project Description Form summarizing the project: (Please note: Text in excess of the max number of words stated will not be seen by the judging panel). Important: Please note topics on Project Description Form will be the areas projects will be judged upon.

3. A Resource List for each project identifying major suppliers such as fixture, signage, lighting manufacturer, flooring, ceiling, surfacing materials with manufacturer's city, state, phone number. For each resource, please add project contact name and email address.

4. High-resolution photography of the project. Maximum number of images for specialty stores is eight (8) and twelve (12) for supermarkets, mass merchants and big box retailers), does not include floorplan/s. Maximum duration of videos cannot exceed 2 minutes per entry.

Important: Digital images are required. Photos should include an exterior including storefront signage, an overview together with detailed shots highlighting key areas. Digital files of photography will be used for the judging, PowerPoint presentations, web publication and print publication of winners. Due to the tight turnaround between judging and publication we are asking for high-resolution digital files for all submissions. All entries will be kept on file at the Institute and Institute's publisher for consideration for future publication. You may be contacted separately for additional information for publication of your materials.

5. A digital scan of the floor fixture plan.

Entry Fees

For Retail Design Institute members the entry fee is $250 USD per submission. The cost per additional entry for members with multiple submissions is $225 USD.

For non-members, $375 USD per entry -- there are no additional discounts.

Please pay online using the Institute’s secure payment portal. Accepted: Visa, MasterCard and American Express in U.S. dollars only.

Terms and conditions

All submitted materials become the property of the Institute’s publisher and the Retail Design Institute and cannot be returned. Materials will be kept on file by the Institute's publisher and in the Institute's permanent archive. Entrants must certify that credits, project descriptions and other information on the entry form are correct; that the entrant has the right to be credited with this project; has received permission from the photographer(s) to use the photography; and that the Retail Design Institute, or an assignee has the right to publish the work, including photography, in print and on websites (; and use in seminars and presentations. Photographers will receive credit for their work, but will not receive additional compensation for reproduction, publication or other uses of architectural images or photographs. Publication will be related to this competition only, in print and online. For any additional usage, the submitter will be contacted separately.

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