Celebrating Emerging Retail Designers at the First Annual DDI & Saks Student Window Challenge


Picture this. On June 7, a Project Runway-style event was held at Saks Fifth Avenue. There, recent graduates from FIT’s Visual Merchandising Program gathered to meet a challenge presented by Saks and DDI magazine.

The students were to use donated materials from ASI, and mannequins and props, to create one of a kind displays suitable for a New York streetscape…in just under ten hours. And then, in an act of serendipity, Tim Gunn walked by and into the windows. He even provided feedback!


Materialista® stopped by throughout the day to report on the challenge, capturing a midday interview with one of the six teams of two, which can be seen on our Facebook or YouTube pages.

As always, Materialista® was there to track the trends, and check in on the students who were incorporating our materials. As the theme of the day was white on white as mandated by Saks, ASI provided materials that gave life to the monochromatic finishes with depth, dimension and sheen. Collections they were given to work with were Eco-Dimensions Bamboo Wall Panels, Ornamental Surfaces, The Perla™ Collection, Acrylplex®, 3M™ DI-NOC™ Architectural Finishes and 3M™ Fasara Glass Finishes.


ASI was proud to be one of several sponsors who hosted and honored the winning students at the SnAKS Café (designed by our industry friends, II by IV Design Associates) after the competition.

Congratulations to Lani Gedeon and Mike Johnson, who received their prizes from event organizers Harry Cunningham, Senior Vice President/Store Planning and Visual Merchandising for Saks Fifth Avenue, and Alison Embrey Medina, Executive Editor, and Jessie Bove Dowd, Senior Editor, DDI magazine. Jessie received a special mention for coming up with this great idea!

Of the six windows, the suspended, geometric and artistically crafted materials in window number one earned the grads that coveted experience of shadowing some of the most prominent visual merchandisers in the world!


Winners also received a $500 gift card to Saks, and tickets to a ballet, but the big prize was a one-month internship with the Saks Visual Merchandising team.

Nancy Jackson was so happy to hear that this competition gave the winners the chance to hone their newfound skills in the retail industry. “It was so exciting to win! I always thought I would pursue a career in event planning and production and I am thrilled to actually have the opportunity to work in retail now, and at Saks Fifth Ave!” Lani Gedeon told her.

Rachel Cooper, Gabrielle Jackson (Materialista!), and Nancy Jackson of ASI, with winners Lani Gedeon and Mike Johnson.

, DDI and ASI look forward to being a part of the event next year. We loved seeing the Architectural Systems logo on the Saks windows which will be up for two weeks, but we were most proud of the students who participated in the competition. We have a tradition of supporting the next generation of designers at ASI, through initiatives such as PAVE (Planning and Visual Education Partnership) student design competitions and scholarship grants, and with educational student tours in our showroom throughout the year.


Posted at 6/12/2012 1:11 PM

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