Victoria Judge, associate at Smart Design Studio, has 20 years of experience in interiors. Her work has included the Australasian Performing Rights Association headquarters, and fitouts for Saatchi & Saatchi and Woolworths.

She was also a judge at the 2014 Australian Interior Design Awards.

Architecture & Design spoke to her about what she looked for in the winning retail entry, why she loves the Adriano Zumbo store and common mistakes retail designers make.

You judged the retail category of the 2014 Australian Interior Design Awards. What were you looking for?

In the retail entries we were looking for excellence and innovation in design. These qualities come from of a considered and unique response to the brief, well resolved execution of the design intent, good planning and materials use.

However, retail design needs to bring more than just excellence and innovation. The design needs to invoke the spirit of the retailer and create an inspiring environment that’s conducive to spending.

Toni & Guy Salon, Port Melbourne, by Travis Walton Architecture won a 2014 Retail Design Award at the Australian Interior Design Awards. Photography by Derek Swalwell

What is your opinion on retail design in Australia in the last few years? Is it innovative?

A lot of retail design is formulaic. Good results come with a thoughtful approach and when the rulebook is thrown out – but only when it’s for good reason!

What recent retail designs stand out for you?

I particularly enjoyed visiting the new Adriano Zumbo shop while I was in Melbourne. It was a truly a fantasy concoction that celebrates an innovative approach to design and materiality, without straying into experimentation for its own sake.

In this case, the experimental approach to materials was inherently related to the nature of Adriano Zumbo’s confections. I also enjoy the design of Aesop stores. They exhibit a strong conceptual approach to materials, are well executed and the product identity is clearly expressed.

Elenberg Fraser for Zumbo Melbourne also won a Retail Design prize at the 2014 Australian Interior Design Awards. Image: Australian Interior Design Awards

What are common mistakes retail designers make?

Commonly made mistakes include designs that overwhelm the product, designs that miss the spirit of the product and poor lighting, which can be detrimental to the overall result

Are there any clients who you would like to design for?

All projects have intrinsic potential. The best results usually arrive out of a challenge that drives the result, be it budget, spatial or timing. Mostly, as designers, we seek interesting ways to express the challenge and the client/designer relationship is important in achieving a great outcome.

What is your favourite retail store to visit?

Any shop where you can get lost in the fantasy world it represents.