KGK Genix has teamed up with Hertford Regional College to run a ‘Student Retail Design and Careers Competition’ which it hopes will drive interest in careers in the retail design, visual merchandising, and print industry.
The KGK Genix group - which employs over 60 people, based at three sites in Central London, Hertfordshire, and Essex - is offering students in the college’s art and design department the opportunity to experience working on a live campaign brief, creating window display concepts and display activations for some of the world’s biggest brands. This year, students will be working on a live creative brief for sports brand, Nike and its ‘Women in Sport’ campaign.
The competition takes students on a journey, from developing initial creative window display concepts through to manufacturing physical graphics and displays from their designs and activating them in a retail window mock shop at the KGK Genix production site in Harlow.
The competition encompasses seven stages, which all independently form an important educational roadmap into how retail design concepts are created and realised in a store environment. The six-month programme kicked off in December 2022, with an introduction to the company and campaign brief presentation - it will now continue with inset design and production insight days hosted by KGK Genix in the coming months.
The planned insight days are an integral part of the competition, providing students with the opportunity to work alongside the design, studio and production teams and ask for advice and guidance to enhance their entry. Students will also learn about the different materials used in retail design activations and how they can be incorporated to enhance their own designs, including printed vinyl and films, front-lit and back-lit fabrics, and display boards.
With sustainability in retail a growing concern, students will also learn about the materials come from sustainable sources, which ones can be recycled and learn about the waste channels that are used to recycle or repurpose display materials.
The final stage of the competition happens in May 2023, when the students activate their retail designs using the physical graphics they have produced into a retail window mock shop at the KGK Genix production site in Harlow. They will then be asked to present their concepts and activations to a panel of judges, explaining where they sought their inspiration, how they developed their designs, whether they are aligned to any current retail trends and explain how sustainable their activations are.
The judging panel will be formed of six industry and business professionals, including members of Nike’s own marketing team, experienced retail designers at KGK Genix and the CEO of the Herts Chamber of Commerce. Entries will be judged on the overall concept and activation, whilst taking into consideration contributing factors such as project management of the campaign and sustainability of their design.
Three competition winners will win a six-week work placement at KGK Genix, where they will work as part of the design and production team, taking on live retail campaigns for leading brands and retailers.
The competition was developed by Matt Walsh, operations director at KGK Genix in Harlow. He said: “As a creative agency, it’s really important that we encourage a new generation of designers with fresh ideas into our industry. The competition provides a platform to showcase just how exciting a career in retail design and print can be.”
Sara Saunders, curriculum area manager - art and design at Hertford Regional College, said: “The opportunity to take on a live brief will give our graphic design and visual merchandising students amazing insight into the industry, making their learning relevant, and for the winners the opportunity of paid internships. Work experience is so important to students studying creative vocational courses as it raises awareness of the career opportunities open to them after their studies, or one of our university level courses. A bonus is to be working on a Nike Brief!”
Graham Pitts, KGK group managing director, added: “This competition not only provides students with the opportunity to take a huge step forward in starting a career in an already competitive industry, but also actively encourages new talent into our industry.”