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UC Interior Design Student Wins First Prize in Global Competition


A student in UC’s top-ranked interior design program recently won a first prize and $5,000 in an international retail design contest. Two other students earned Honorable Mention.

Date: 5/5/2013 12:00:00 AM
By: M.B. Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos By: Provided by students

UC ingot   A student in the University of Cincinnati’s top-ranked interior design program just earned first prize in a prestigious international retail design contest.

For UC’s Yuan Zeng, 23, a junior originally from Kunming, China, his winning efforts earned him a $5,000 award; the opportunity to exhibit his work in a major, retail design industry trade show; and the chance to network with commercial leaders in the field of retail design.

Other UC interior design students – Catherine Murray and Micah Washington – received honorable mention and a prize of $500 in the contest, the “2012-2013 PAVE the Way 3D Design Challenge,” which is meant to nurture top talent and is sponsored by The Planning and Visual Education Partnership (PAVE) and Van Stry Design.

The three UC students competed with finalists from throughout the United States, Europe and India in designing fixtures that were both functional and effective in merchandising a real-world headphone brand. (Each year, the contest presents a different retail design challenge. In this case, the competitors were asked to focus on retail trends, merchandising and materials while successfully communicating a specific brand to headphone users.)
Design by UC's Yuan Zeng
Winning design by UC's Yuan Zeng.



Prototypes of their designs were displayed at Chicago’s GlobalShop 2013, the premier trade show for leaders in the retail design industry. These prototypes were made from the finalists’ 3-D renders of their designs by Van Stry Design of Malden, Mass.

Zeng designed a six-foot tall, minimalist display case of clear acrylic that would enable headphone users to easily view and customize their device headbands, headphone cables and sound engines to match their own individual styles.

He explained, “The best part of the project was probably seeing the end result come together as a whole after quite a few sleepless nights, as we had very limited time to put the project package together. Then, being able to work with a manufacturer to bring our designs to life was also an exciting part of the project. It presented its own challenges going from paper to reality, but it was a wonderful learning process.”

He added that participation in GlobalShop 2013 enabled him to reconnect with professionals he had worked with during his required cooperative education quarters and to meet many other industry professionals for the first time. “GlobalShop also gave me a clearer understanding of coming retail design trends as well as future career possibilities,” Zeng explained.

Murray, 22, a junior from the Cincinnati suburb of Madeira, and Washington, 22, a junior from Toledo, Ohio, worked as a team to create a display design inspired by the coloring, form and typography found in the current packing of Marshall brand headphones and did so in about two weeks time.
Design by Catherine Murray and Micah Washington.
Design by Catherine Murray and Micah Washington.



Recalled Washington, “We had just finished our main studio project when we decided to participate in this contest as well. At that point, we only had two weeks to complete the project, so we had to work really hard to get to the design refinement we were looking for. We learned you can accomplish a lot within short time constraints, which can be very important in the real world of design.”
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Said Murray, “The result is a fixture that’s cost effective and eco-friendly while also benefiting from Marshall’s predominate brand recognition.”

The three students created their contest designs in a fall semester retail design studio led by Brian Davies, associate professor in the School of Architecture and Interior Design (SAID), and Ann Black, SAID associate professor.