Interior Design: The Future of Retail Design

A three-day interior design course exploring the forces shaping future retail environments.

Please note the May 2019 course is now full. Please register your interest for Autumn.

Dates: 1–3 May

Duration:  Three days

Location: RCA Kensington

Fee: £1,000

Please note: ​​​​​all course fees are for the course only and do not include accommodation, food or transport.
The fee includes basic materials for the course.

Course overview

This three-day interior design short course examines the forces shaping the retail environment of the future and identifies opportunities for innovation. 

Participants will explore far beyond the traditional browsing-and-transaction language of retail, to learn how to design intellectually compelling, emotionally profound and visually inspiring spatial experiences for fashion retail design. 

Commercial interior design is fast moving and intrinsically linked to the leading edge of popular culture – fashion, music and the visual arts. 

High-street interior design reflects and responds to cultural change and must evolve rapidly to meet current trends and desires. You will explore strategies for innovation through:

  • showcasing radical display design tactics used by leading retail brands
  • exploring how blending technologies with tactile finishes can increase immersive engagement
  • exploring how innovations from across architecture and interior design disciplines can be incorporated into retail design
  • considering immersive strategies from other architectural environments – from museums to smart-homes – and how these can be used to enhance and expand the possibilities of retail. 

What will I learn?

The intensive course has been carefully designed to stimulate both conceptual and practical thinking, helping you gain practical knowledge, provoking discussion and inspiration, and developing industry skills within a supportive and creative learning environment. 

In particular, you will learn:

  • how to research and question current retail practice that might lead to testing, rethinking and reworking the retail experience in an intensive design project
  • creative and conceptual thinking relating to popular culture
  • to translate ideas into practical spatial designs
  • how to plan and think about customer experience
 and engagement
  • the principles of designing experientially compelling concessions, 
considering point of sales
, display storage, window display and lighting
  • how to engage your customers by using advanced retail design communication in spatial environments.

How will I learn?

This intensive masterclass will blend lectures, workshops and seminars with one-to-one consultation sessions, design reviews with renowned retail designers and visits to some of London’s most exciting retail environments.

You will participate in:

  • action-based practical tasks
  • collaborative, iterative teamwork
  • extended lectures
  • workshops
  • site visits
  • opportunities to network with visiting retail designers and peers on the programme. 

Personal and organisational benefits

Benefits to you and your organisation include: 

  • insight into global best practice in retail design
  • experience in critical, creative and insightful thinking
  • return to your practice with a greater ability to innovate and connect to retail design trends.

Who should attend?

This course is highly suited to design creatives across the disciplines interested in producing innovative and immersive retail design experiences that are informed by future trends. 

These may include:

  • interior designers, architects and other spatial designers
  • retail designers
  • retail industry professionals
  • window-display specialists
  • stylists
  • merchandise designers
  • exhibition designers 
  • commercial design practitioners
  • fashion industry professionals and fashion retail enthusiasts
  • XD /user-experience designers.

Leading industry speakers

Leading retail thinkers/designers joining the intensive include:

Neil Mason, ECD, GPJ LONDON GPJGPJ is an experiential agency driven by the power of the moment at every touch point for consumer and brands. Neil works on experience of integrated campaigns and has worked on global projects for established world-renowned luxury including McLaren, Nike, LV and Apple. ​

Zia Patel, Creative Strategist, OCHRE BrandZia operates at the intersection of design, business and technology. The common thread in her work is helping clients find new growth in competitive markets, using a variety of techniques. Her emphasis is on using creativity to unearth insights into people’s unmet needs, to develop and test propositions, to design experiences that embody the brand and work for people and to equip client teams to deliver.  

John-Michael O’Sullivan architect and writer, specialising in the retail experience. As well as creating retail concepts for brands such as Brown Thomas, John Rocha, Fortnum & Mason and Mercedes Benz, he has curated brand narratives for heritage firms like Sunspel, Crombie, Globetrotter and John Lobb, and advised on identity and tone-of-voice for a range of contemporary fashion labels. He is currently an Associate Director at HMKM, a London-based design consultancy specialising in the retail experience. He is a regular contributor to Esquire and The Observer, where he specialises in features on architecture, design and photography, and edits the London-based menswear biannual Article.

Robert Storey: Founded in 2009, StoreyStudio is a spatial design practice based in London comprising a diverse team of designers and artists working fluidly between creative disciplines. The studio is led by British creative director Robert Storey who studied fine art sculpture at Central Saint Martins. His work is known for its artistic approach and has been called upon by an ever-expanding international client list including Prada, Hermès, Chloè, Kenzo, Stella McCartney and Nike. 

John Ryan is a journalist and commentator, writing and talking about the business of retail and store design. As a journalist, he works on publications ranging from Retail Week in the UK (where he is Stores Editor) to VMSD in the US with frequent appearances as a speaker at design and store design gatherings and conferences. He is also the founder and director of Newstores, an information service about new stores in malls and high streets around the world with a daily feed to major retailers across Europe. An enthusiastic user and contributor to Twitter, he is also a consultant to Facebook and Deloitte. In a former life, he was a retailer, based in London and Dusseldorf.

Programme team

The course will be delivered by staff from the School of Architecture across the MA Architecture, MA Interior Design and PhD Programmes. 

Dr Harriet Harriss is a Reader in Architecture at the Royal College of Art, and an award-winning designer, ideation facilitator and author. Harriet’s workshops and hackathons are strongly informed by design-thinking intelligence, data-driven future trends and real-world innovation experience.

Seetal Solanki is the Founder and Director of materials research design studio Ma-t-ter and a visiting tutor on the Interior Design Programme at the Royal College of Art. Ma-tt-er is a research design studio that explores the past, present and future of materials. 

Dr. Tania Lopez Winkler is a visiting tutor on the Interior Design Programme at the Royal College of Art and an award-winner artist and designer. Tania brings her wide range of art and design practice to contribute with a creative teaching of the Interior Design field. 

The full list of academics and external practitioners names is to be announced.

Admission criteria

Participants must be:

  • Either an interior design, architecture, branding or other spatial practice graduate and/or have 2–3 years professional experience working in retail design or a related design field and/or be a graduate of a design/creative discipline
  • have a good level of English language.

How to book

Register interest to download the full course description.

Click here to book. 

Disclaimer: The information given is accurate at the time of publication, however, the RCA reserves the right to amend the described courses as circumstances dictate.


School of Architecture Executive Education
T: +44 (0)20 7590 4538


Please note the May 2019 course is now full. 

Please register your interest for Autumn.

"Very specific insights from professionals working in different disciplines in the world of retail. I am planning to reorganise part of my team and collaborators after this course." Jose Frojan Resua


"This course features evocative, avant-garde and even renegade perspectives on the future of retail interiors and intentionally probes and provokes." Dr. Harriet Harriss

Reader in Architectural Education & Interior Design at the Royal College of Art

Dr Harriet Harriss
Dr Harriet Harriss