IRDC: A Powerhouse of Retail Design Insights
Empowering Keynotes, Evolution of Design Thinking, and the AI Revolution in Retail
Estimated Read Time: 4 Minutes
The International Retail Design Conference (IRDC) went off with a bang, featuring a lineup of inspiring speakers, engaging discussions, and exciting tours. Here are some of the key takeaways from this must-attend event for professionals in the world of retail design.
Opening Keynote with Lizzie Velasquez
The conference began with a moving and inspirational keynote address by motivational speaker, Lizzie Velasquez. During her time on stage, she emphasized the importance of making a positive impact on someone’s world, a concept that perfectly aligns with the goals of retail design. She shared her journey of discovering her own voice and spoke about the power of using it to tell your story and create change. Lizzie’s acknowledgement of imposter syndrome resonated with many in the audience, as she encouraged everyone to realize that they have the power to change the world.
Your Gut Knows
The next session reminded us of the value of learning from our mistakes. It encouraged attendees to trust their instincts in their design projects. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s often best to walk away early if possible. Additionally, disparaging oneself can have a detrimental effect. The session stressed the importance of self-compassion, reminding us that what we say to ourselves matters. Always approach projects with curiosity rather than assumptions to uncover great ideas.
Target: The Evolution of Design Thinking
A presentation from Target explored the evolution of design thinking within the company. The retailer has continuously adapted to the changing economy, and the session highlighted Target’s shift from the typical suburban big-box store model to more localized and sustainable approaches. They experimented with city stores, small-format stores, and college stores to tailor their offerings to local communities. These new prototypes incorporate elements like local imagery, murals, biophilia, sustainability, and a focus on local products and storytelling.
Victoria’s Secret Store of the Future
Victoria’s Secret took the stage at IRDC to share their ongoing journey as a content-driven brand with a powerful mission: to uplift and champion all women. In a retail landscape that’s ever-evolving, their commitment to focusing, editing, and amplifying their message to capture the attention of shoppers was evident. Their dedication to staying true to their mission was reflected in their carefully curated retail experience, and what helped set them apart was their proactive use of technology for storytelling, education, and engagement. Furthermore, Victoria’s Secret highlighted the importance of remaining open to the process of testing and learning, as well as actively seeking feedback from their valued guests and associates. This dedication to continual improvement in both their mission and approach to retail design was a testament to their commitment to making a positive impact.
North Point Tour
The North Point Tour, hosted by the Retail Design Institute Twin Cities Chapter, was a highlight of the conference. The tour provided a fascinating look at the vibrant retail scene in the North Loop Warehouse district of Minneapolis. Some standout businesses included DeNOLA, a women- and Black-owned business that offers a unique combination of retail, sushi, and community gatherings. MartinPatrick3 impressed with its eclectic offerings and adaptability, while Cooks showcased a cooking school and inventive displays using kitchenware.
Iron Merchant Competition
Iron Merchant, this year’s design competition, featured teams tasked with creating reused/resale clothing concepts with a digital twist. The winning team, the Red Team, wowed the judges with their innovation and creativity. The photos captured the energy and excitement of the competition.
AI in Retail Design
The general session on AI in retail design was thought-provoking and a highlight of the conference. Samar Younes, Founder and Chief Imagination Officer of Samaritual, presented insights into how AI can be used to enhance the retail design process. AI can support trend spotting, problem-solving, and deep research, ultimately contributing to generative creativity and innovative design thinking. Younes discussed how AI can be used for branding, storytelling, and design challenges and provided a list of valuable resources for AI in retail.
Levi’s: The Greatest Story Ever Worn
Jesse Moyer from Levi’s took the stage to share the history of the iconic brand. Attendees were treated to a flythrough of their newest store and prototype exterior, showcasing their commitment to the brand’s legacy and the future of retail design/ The 150th anniversary of Levi’s was celebrated with a cake presentation, and lucky attendees received cupcakes with special discounts.
IRDC was packed with insights and practical takeaways for those in the retail design industry. We witnessed the power of collaboration, innovation, and the unwavering passion for those in the retail design industry. As we bid farewell to the conference, we carry with us the excitement of what lies ahead and the inspiration to continue pushing the boundaries of retail design.