International RMIT Visual Merchandising Student Wenzhou Zhang has been announced as the first recipient of the inaugural Red Design Group Student Award, recognising the outstanding retail design concept of one RMIT student as part of the Visual Merchandising (VM) Diploma Program.

Design Principal Darren Hose presented the Award to Wenzhou today on behalf of Red Design Group during the second Retail Experience Design (R.E.D) lecture at RMIT, City campus.


Wenzhou was honored to receive the Student Award from Red Design Group Design Principal Darren Hose.

The Award prize is an item from the winning student’s client and chosen by the student which, in Wenzhou’s case, is the handmade ‘Brady’ bag from The Stowe worth $460AUD.

Wenzhou, who has moved from China to Australia to study, was chosen for her stand-out retail design proposal after presenting her concept to Red Design Group designers and RMIT University R.E.D Teacher Christine Wolter.

Ms. Wolter said Wenzhou stood out for her high level of creativity, innovation, and sensitivity to her chosen brand.

“Her documentation was comprehensive and communicated the proposal concept extremely well.

“Additionally, her professional conduct was exceptional despite having English as a second language… It was a pleasure to work with her,” Ms. Wolter said.


Wenzhou’s inspiration board for The Stowe store.

As part of the Visual Merchandising Diploma Program, each student is required to present a full retail fit-out design for a vacant site in the Red Design Group (RDG) boardroom, where RDG designers and the RMIT R.E.D Teacher assess student’s level of research, design development, documentation, and professional practice.

After careful consideration, Wenzhou chose The Stowe as her bag retailer believing this brand stands out and catches the attention of customers.

“I learned of this brand from my friend’s Instagram and totally fell in love.

“I’m looking forward to seeing more special designs that can make the brand more unique,” she said.


Like all items, the ‘Brady’ bag is designed and produced in Montreal, Canada.

The unique 18-month Program provides students with up-to-date, on-trend industry knowledge and feedback, instilling confidence and preparing them for a career in styling or retail display design.

The R.E.D project aims to provide a challenging, hand-on experience to fully prepare students for their future careers.

“It gave me the chance to think of more details involved,” Wenzhou said.

“The biggest challenge in this project is the size of all the elements I used to design the shop.

“Any detail can affect the sales, and that is something I need to consider and improve,” she said.


The store design concept for The Stowe.


RMIT students needed to consider traffic flow and space as part of their brief.

VM student Sarah Cardamone said although the experience was nerve-racking, she was excited to be given the opportunity to showcase work to industry professionals.

“Public speaking is not one of my strengths, but the experience I had with RDG has given me more confidence in presenting my work.

“Receiving positive feedback from Industry professionals makes you feel proud of all the hard work you put in, and coming into an office space full of creative professionals is inspiring,” Ms. Cardamone said.

VM Program Coordinator Sam Falanga developed the Program strategy at RMIT many years ago as an effort to demonstrate the importance the industry has on customer experience.

Mr. Falanga said the Program invites industry professionals to come in and assess students’ final retail experience design.

“Darren was one of the early industry guest assessors and offered us the use of the RDG boardroom to conduct the presentations, as well as RDG staff to act as assessors.

“Students have all come away raving about their short professional presentations,” he said.

Mr. Falanga has a great relationship with RDG, having collaborated with Mr. Hose for over a decade on behalf of RMIT University.

“Darren has also kindly taken our store design class for a few weeks while I was on holiday.

“On behalf of the program, we are very grateful for Darren’s and RDG’s substantial support over many years,” he said.

Find out more information on our work with RMIT. (link)

image 2 mood board

Wenzhou undertook significant research for her project.


Wenzhou’s store window design for The Stowe, a crucial element in retail design.