The Retail Design Institute works with colleges and universities to develop retail design programs. We continue to work toward a degreed specialty in retail design through both architecture and design schools.
The Institute promotes continuing education and continuing education credits to improve the skill sets of working professionals.
Through workshops and seminars highlighting new and noteworthy trends, the Institute engages the retail community at large to share accomplishments in retailing and retail store design.
At the point a career move is on the horizon, the Institute is there for members. We maintain a job board for members seeking a new challenge, working with retailers and recruiters.
The Retail Design Institute is actively involved in developing the next generation of design talent by sponsoring student design competitions at the Chapter level. Additionally, students of design and young professionals are welcome to request portfolio reviews. Mentorship offers benefits to both mentor and mentee.
Most Institute Chapter meetings have a social aspect (meet and greet) prior to the program event. In general, Chapters hold two social events every year that might range from a holiday party, to a boat cruise, to a golf tournament. Special events such as a tour of a new retail venue combine learning and pleasure.
Cynthia Hirsch Ortiz, RDI
Cynthia Hirsch Ortiz, RDI, most recently served as the New York Chapter President. As President (2018-2020 term), she was thrilled by the amazing experience shared with the Executive team and with the growth and success achieved in keeping the Chapter focused and growing. She founded her business Collaborative Design Strategies in 2018 utilizing her many years working on both the vendor side and the architectural design consulting side to make valuable connections assisting the retail industry. Her extensive knowledge in visual and store design has led to key relationships with Brooks Brothers, Target, Cartier, Fossil and many others. Hirsch is an active member of Shop! Association and was recently named to serve on the Shop! board of directors. She also chairs of both its Creative Council and Women’s League. Hirsch also served as the host of the Retail Decoded: Defining the “Next” Normal podcast focusing on the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the retail industry. In 2017, Hirsch served as co-chair of the the Planning and Visual Education Partnership Gala. Speaking engagements include presentations at the 2020 Global Retail Show on Retail Revolution along with Institute Chairman Ray Ehscheid. She has been a member of the Institute since 2015.
Kathryn Patton-Miller, RDI
International Vice President
Kathryn Patton-Miller has been creating memorable brand experiences for more than 15 years. While trained as an industrial designer, her professional experience is wide-ranging encompassing brand strategy and development, graphic design, fixture design, store planning, environmental design of branded spaces, customer experience development, and creating true innovation for brands’ “stores of the future.”
Patton-Miller is currently serving as the ATL | SE Chapter Chairman while sitting on several International Committees. Previously, she served as the Communications Chair for her chapter. She is dedicated to creating opportunities for Institute members to highlight their expertise while finding connections and education from one another. In addition to her volunteerism with the Institute, Patton-Miller has a history of philanthropy being a member of the 3000+ membership of the Junior League of Atlanta, holding the position of creative and design director for two terms.
Patton-Miller has been a Professional member of the Institute since 2019.
Kathryn Hof Abercromby, RDI
Kathryn Hof Abercromby, RDI, is the merchandising manager for Long & McQuade Musical Instruments LTD, Canada’s leading independent music retailer.
Abercromby began working in the retail industry in 2005 while at university studying international law and political science. She joined Long & McQuade in 2009 and quickly found her passion in merchandising. She completed her studies with a Bachelors in Social Sciences and was looking at her next career steps when she was given the opportunity to branch out from sales and started working with the project team on design, maintenance and merchandising across the company. Long & McQuade does their designs, project management and millwork in house and therefore there were many unique opportunities within. After several years, she was able to advance into her current role at the company. From store design, designing and building storage system layouts, procuring and customizing unique store fixtures, to building a merchandising guide for every store to utilize, she works within the industry to find better ways to fine tune how merchandising can help the consumer as well as the company. Along the way, she has done multiple courses to enhance her skills and learn from other members in the industry. In November 2021, she joined the International Board as Secretary.
Dina Meindl, Allied RDI
Dina Meindl, Allied RDI, is a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology and the founder of DRM Unlimited LLC. Her design career began with Levi Strauss & Co., where she was responsible for retail marketing and store planning initiatives working from its New York Regional Office. After Levi Strauss & Co., Meindl began working for a number of the retail industry’s most innovative display and design product resources, partnering with retailers and designers for their visual and store fixture needs, before founding her own firm five years ago. Today she is focused on assisting retailers and designers with queuing and barricade solutions along with merchandise fixture needs. Prior to being elected International Treasurer, Meindl was NY Chapter Treasurer. In that role, she helped streamline the treasury processes and increase our funds by more than $10,000 from years’ past by working with board members to ensure all Chapter efforts were strongly aligned. Meindl also served as the International Communications Chair for the 2018- 2020 term. She has been a member of the Institute since 2013.
Ray Ehscheid, RDI
Ray Ehscheid is principal, director of client services, retail and financial sectors for the New York office of IA- Interior Architects. He has more than 25 years of senior-level, client-side experience across both the retail and financial service sectors. Prior to joining IA, Ehscheid was senior vice president, design services for Bank of America, beginning in 2005 to lead store design and merchandising for Bank of America’s Financial Center and ATM network. In 2014 he was tapped to spearhead Workplace Design Strategy, including the bank’s refocus on High Performance Workspace (AKA Space Modernization). Ehscheid’s career includes leadership roles in both design and merchandising with global luxury and fashion retailers such as Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s and Reebok. His span of influence is noted in work across wholesale, retail, franchise and tradeshow exhibit design.
Ehscheid is a recognized thought leader on the subjects of retail and financial services design, and has been featured in a range of national and international publications. He has delivered keynote addresses on retail and financial topics at tradeshows like GlobalShop and IFMA, retail industry events such as the National Retail Federation (NRF) Big Show, bank and finance events like BAI, RBR and EFMA and panel discussions on relevant topics at additional shows like NeoCon and EuroShop. Ehscheid continues to jury peer design competitions. In addition to the Institute’s annual design competition, Ehscheid had lent his time and talents to IIDA and the World Interiors News (WIN) Awards. He has also been a guest lecturer at FIT, the Parsons School and the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum.
He is a member the editorial advisory boards of both Contract and design:retail magazine which voted him one of its “Top 10 Retail Design Influencers.” Ehscheid has previously served as advisor to SHOP!, and is member emeritus to the board of the Planning and Visual Education Partnership.
Members of the Retail Design Institute are dedicated to excellence in the development of retail environments and maintaining the highest professional standards and practices.
- A Member shall accept compensation for services performed only from his/her direct client or employer.
- In addition to competing on the basis of price, a Member shall compete for business on the basis of professional qualifications and resources necessary to adequately provide the services sought by a potential client.
- A Member participating in a design competition process shall represent his/her work accurately and in a professional manner. Each Member shall comply with all applicable local, state, and federal laws governing his/her work and the work of competitors.
- A Member acting as a professional advisor or judge for any Retail Store Design Competition/Contest shall remove himself/herself from judging any category or aspect of the competition involving either their own or their client’s work entered in the competition.Commentary: This provision is intended to prevent any conflict of interest and to provide objective judging during a design competition.
- A Member shall not knowingly injure falsely or maliciously, the professional reputation, or practice of another member of the profession.
- A Member shall share/divide fees only with appropriate consulting professionals specifically related to the professional design services rendered, and/or those regularly employed or associated with his/ her office. All fees or rebates should be clearly disclosed to the client.
- A Member shall accurately represent his/her professional work in all advertising/marketing and promotional materials.
- A Member shall identify as “paid advertising” any marketing material when presented in a trade publication or other media solely or specifically for promotional purposes.Commentary: Feature articles by the media highlighting current work of designers/firms are newsworthy and beneficial to the industry and public. However, this provision is intended to discourage “buying” coverage by offering any form of payment for said coverage.
- A Member shall always act in a manner to support and promote the best interests of the Store Planning profession.
- A Member shall exhibit pride of membership in the Retail Design Institute. However, a Member shall not imply that said membership constitutes any approval or endorsement of his/her professional services by the Institute.
Members and Friends of the Institute,
I am delighted to move from International President of the Institute to role of Chairman.
Since its inception in 1961, the Institute has been focused on ensuring that those directly involved in the practice of retail design have a forum for communication. The association has also focused on ensuring a strong industry voice. The International Board, local Chapters and City Centers across the world continue to share with members in more intimate discussions the challenges and rewards of our chosen career.
To that end, our focus on the career professional in our industry has never been so acute. Your needs dictate how and what we should do to ensure the practice of retail design remains relevant and important. Let your voice be heard and email me directly with your ideas.
Retail design continues to evolve, and as it does so does the Institute. Enveloping additional professionals concerned with the body of work around creating engaging experiences through digital and physical models is paramount and a key part of our discussions.
What will retail experiences be in the future? The Institute is determined to be at the forefront of this dialogue, supporting those teams driving out those new directions.
I encourage you to each find an opportunity in your local Chapter to engage and become involved in the ongoing discussion. Simple efforts to join us at one of our local events can yield much for your understanding how our industry is moving forward. Your membership offers many ways to experience the camaraderie that the Institute fosters in our communities and if you are not a member, consider joining us now to experience the best of retail design in your city.
Ray Ehscheid, RDI, IIDA
Members and Friends of the Institute
What a year to be elected International President of the Retail Design Institute!
Our industry has faced has faced challenges in the past, but in 2020 the Covid-19 pandemic has forced us to take another look at best practices and re-evaluate ways to reach our constituents and customers. With so much uncertainty, I remain certain. Certain that we will see positive changes evolve because problem solving is at the core of our work as designers, solutions providers and retailers. Many of the changes already on the horizon have been accelerated by the pandemic. And so retail continues to adapt and change to what some are calling the now normal.
Your newly elected International Officers and I are working to continue the efforts of the previous International Officers and Board of Directors. Those efforts included creation of the Diversity Inclusion & Equity Council. Soon a group of members will meet to address issues facing our fellow members, colleagues and peers who have lost jobs and opportunities because of the pandemic.
And though we are not able to meet in person, we are more connected than ever thanks to our Chapters’ efforts to create virtual educational events, tours and even cocktail hours now available to all members regardless of Chapter affiliation. Virtual events allow our members to attend and network with the retail community across the globe!
As we approach our 60th Anniversary in 2021, I’m reminded of the driving forces in 1961 that made this organization what it is today — a forum where members connect, learn, grow, build relationships and inspire one another.
There’s a place for everyone in the retail design industry in the Institute, both at the local level and the International level. Reach out to your Chapter President or email me to join us in shaping the industry. Your ideas and input are valued and welcomed.
Join us as we look to lead the way in educating and connecting to create a better future in retail design.
Cynthia Hirsch, RDI
The Retail Design Institute recognizes the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted many of our members and non-member colleagues directly through layoffs, furloughs and corporate bankruptcies. Earlier, the Board of Directors voted to suspend membership dues for all current members and to waive membership application fees and dues for new members in any category through May 31, 2021. All members who were current (dues paid) as of March 15, 2020, have been granted a membership extension to May 31, 2021. When you visit the Institute’s website, you will notice the pop-up graphic inviting prospective members to come aboard! Please reach out through your networks and welcome our community (including lapsed members) to consider joining the Institute. If you have been laid off or furloughed at this time it will not affect your eligibility.* Please use discount code 2020free when signing up. *All prospective members will be vetted according to the Institute’s stated membership criteria.
Cynthia Hirsch Ortiz, RDI,