Fitch founder Rodney Fitch has been appointed professor of retail design at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands in a move that promises to create a new model for the study of retail and retailing, not least in developing countries.
Fitch is in line to head up a two-year MA course at Delft, and will also oversee an outreach retail course in Mumbai, India, aimed at giving local and Western practitioners a formal qualification. He says the Delft course is due to start in September, and the Mumbai course in April.
For now, the Delft course will sit within the industrial design school, but it is expected that, as it develops, it will be supported by the faculties of engineering, architecture and industrial design, Fitch says. Fitch, who ceased to be chairman of WPP consultancy Fitch at the end of 2009,maintains that the Delft post means he holds the first fulltime retail design chair in Europe.
’I like to think it recognises the importance of retail and retailing, given the size [of the sector] and its economic and societal values,’ he says.
Fitch says the Delft course will be modular, covering context – the history and politics of retail; strategy from the perspective of retail and the retailer; innovation; and communication. It will be pan-European, but include overseas students, he says.
Fitch is also looking to take on PhD students in Delft, building on the MA. ’I am interested to see research into retail being done out of universities,’ he says.
Fitch says the Mumbai course is organised by Delft in partnership with local company Kyoorius, which runs the annual creative conference Kyoorius Designyatra, among other things. Also modular, it is described by Fitch as ’an malgam’ of retail studies, of which design is part. He says it will run for one year and result in an Executive MA Diploma for successful participants.
RETAIL DESIGN GOES POSTGRAD
- Fitch has already enrolled professor James Woudhuysen to lead the innovation module and Dutch retail branding expert Michel van Tongeren to head up communication
- It is expected the course will accept 25 students in the first year, most being already at Delft and choosing the discipline as part of a design MA