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Securing the Future of Visual Merchandising: A Visit from the British Display Society

Hugh Baird University Centre’s Visual Merchandising and Promotional Design (VM) degree-level students were afforded a real-life insight into the real world of VM last week, after they were treated to an informative and inspiring presentation from the chair of the British Display Society, Iain Kimmins and his colleague, Vice-Chair, Helen Goodwin.

The British Display Society was established in 1947 and was created to encourage and promote the highest standards of Visual Merchandising, Design and Display. The BDS is also a thriving Visual Merchandising / Educational organisation that aims to guarantee VM remains a recognised profession in a modern and ever-changing retail world.

The course at Hugh Baird University Centre teaches a range of skills and knowledge in Visual Merchandising and Promotional Design, which include the design process through project briefs, visual merchandising theory and practice, fashion promotion and styling, spatial awareness, 2D and 3D digital design, product presentation and historical contextual studies. It also equips students with the vocational skills to apply solutions intelligently and effectively in real-life scenarios.

The BDS is a firm supporter of Hugh Baird University Centre, as it is recognised at one of its accredited ‘Centres of Excellence’; only one of seven in the world. The visit to the University Centre allowed both Iain and Helen to catch up with students and staff alike and see how teaching and learning has changed and adapted over the last few years.

When speaking about the presentation, Hugh Baird University Centre VM tutor Pete Taylor said, “It’s fantastic to have Iain and Helen here today talking to our amazing students. We are very proud of the course here at Hugh Baird University Centre, we are teaching the future of visual merchandising; it’s very exciting.”

Iain has a wealth of knowledge and experience in the VM industry, starting his career at Harrods and working his way through some of the most renowned retail spaces in the world, including Selfridges, London and TANGS in Singapore.

The students got to learn about all facets of the industry, including a typical ‘day in the life’, current trends, industry faux pas and career progression.

Helen also gave insight into how VM works for smaller and independent retailers and how COVID-19 has changed the face of retail and retail spaces.

Carrie Sumner, a Hugh Baird University Centre VM student said, “The presentation has been amazing. It has been great to listen to both Iain and Helen and get their insight into the VM industry. I have found it very informative and inspiring.”

Iain added, “It has been fantastic to return to the Hugh Baird University Centre, we have a received a very warm welcome as always. The student work we have seen today has been of a high standard and it has been great to talk to the students and get their ideas on what the world of VM will look like in the future. The students have been very receptive to what we have had to say. It’s also been great to see the variety of teaching practices which continue to be expertly delivered by tutors who are fully experienced and passionate about their own specialist subjects. This is so evident in how the students are driven to maintain quality work such as models, sketchbooks and presentations. Well done to everyone.”

The University Centre is looking forward to welcoming both Iain and Helen back again in the Spring 2022 when they return to judge the end of year show.

For more information about the Visual Merchandising and Promotional Design degree-level courses available at Hugh Baird University centre please visit