Elisava School of Design
Retail Design Master's Degree
One Year

The Retail Design Master’s Degree at Elisava is designed for professionals who wish to acquire the essential knowledge to work on and design retail spaces. The program provides instruction on the many disciplines within retail. From small-scale to large-scale design, from boutiques to large multinational brands, students become comfortable with the specifics and differences in each setting. All subjects are dealt with both in theory and practice. Importance is given to the analysis and study of trends and innovation in the market and society.

Degree Length
One year; Fall and Spring Intake.

Application Requirements
Complete online application
Portfolio (4 pages / 2MB size max; PDF)
Letter of motivation (1 page; PDF)
Curriculum Vitae (2 pages; PDF)
Official Bachelor’s Degree transcript
Passport scan (photo page; PDF)
EU privacy consent form

Application Deadline
Fall Intake: May 1
Spring Intake: November 1, 2020
Apps accepted after deadline as space permits

Program Dates
Fall Intake: Mid September – Early August
Spring Intake: Mid February – Late February

Eligibility Requirements

Age: 18+

Academic: Completed Bachelor’s degree

*contact SAI if you don’t meet requirements

Undergraduate GPA:* 2.5 (on a 4.0 scale)

English Language:* Non-native English language speakers must submit IELTS: 5+, or proof of attending school in English for 3+ years.

Coming soon

Program Description
The Master’s degree in Retail Design is designed for professionals who wish to acquire the essential knowledge to work on and design retail spaces. The program provides instruction on the many disciplines within retail. From small-scale to large-scale design, from boutiques to large multinational brands, students become comfortable with the specifics and differences in each setting.

All subjects are dealt with both in theory and practice. Importance is given to the analysis and study of trends and innovation in the market and society to get a close-up view of the elements in designing a retail space (space, communication, flow, exhibition, virtual aspects, sensory perceptions, etc.). Art and analysis are the basis of any project, as are the concept and projection of space. Students come away with the highest standards and the ability to work with the most demanding companies in the market.

Goals and Competencies
The degree adheres to the following objectives, focused on strengthening students’ individual abilities:

  • Analyze the role the retail sector plays in commercial strategy at all levels.
  • Explore retail types, their various functions, how to deal with demand for them, the role they play in economic and social activity, and the future challenges this sector faces.
  • Demonstrate and analyze the design process for the development of a retail space.
  • Identify and apply social and market studies, and learn how to interpret and work with this information to obtain an ideal design.
  • Create a complete project for the design of a major retail space with all the aspects that need to be taken into account to bring it to a good conclusion.

Student Profile
This degree is aimed at graduates in Design, Fine Arts or Communication, and professionals with proven experience in this field.

Due After Acceptance
After acceptance, students must submit an Apostille-Certified Bachelor’s Degree of University Diploma. The Hague Apostille (Apostille Convention) is a method of validating a public document for use outside of its origin country. In the United States the Competent Authorities designated to issue Apostilles are the Secretaries of States. Students wishing to enroll in graduate level coursework at Elisava must receive an Apostille on their degree from the state of the degree’s issuance.

The Retail Design Master’s Degree is composed of two semesters of study taught in block style. All students follow the same curriculum, designed around collaborative problem-solving, hands-on experience and workforce preparedness.

The module addresses and defines the situations that the student will encounter in international and global retail companies. We will look at the internal company structure, the market, forms and strategies of expansion and the tools to lead.

  • Large-scale space.
  • Case studies.
  • Market strategies and
  • Bases and concepts that define the market.
  • Cases: Examples
  • The “scales” of the
  • Discussion-Workshop: Future

The aim of this module is to provide students with the necessary tools to develop the design of a large scale co-market space and all its implementation process- es by means of the documents that make up the Brand Book and the plans for the executive project of a store, paying special attention to the design process of the display furniture on a functional and material level.

  • Introduction and presentation of the module (from the brand book to the executive project.)
  • General guidelines, index, plans, con- tent and information necessary for the development of the project executed by a store.
  • Layout design: Brand and
  • Human scale; user’s relationship with space and furniture.
  • The product as the basis of furniture design. Exhibition systems and furniture
  • Product range sheets. Dimensions and quantity of products displayed and stored.
  • Materials in architecture and Manufacturing processes: furniture design, functionality, materialization, detail and prototyping.

The main goal of this module is to give the student the basic tools for the development of an innovative and sustainable commercial design project, incorporating knowledge and experiences that come from diverse and yet complementary worlds: design, commerce, retail, urbanism, the global scenario, climate action and social action. To do this, it is necessary to explore concepts of design, but also of identity, diversity or inclusion, without forgetting other collateral concepts such as coordination, management or efficiency.

  • Introduction and presentation of the
  • International scenario 2030 focused on retail
  • Frameworks, conceptual bases and collaborative
  • Trends and case studies in the context of the retail scenario.
  • Field trips.

Nowadays technology has become one of the main engines of change development, in the short term, has changed the way we communicate and interact. For new generations, technology is an extension of their physical reality and retailers are trying to understand the role that technology and social networks should play at the point of sale.

  • Introduction: Blurring
  • Generational shift and
  • Evolution of technology towards Digital Media.
  • Digital communication and the physical
  • Retail and technology. Experience and point of
  • New models.
  • Bricks & mortar + Digital layer
  • Cases: Examples analysis
  • Discussion and project
  • Review and follow-up of proposals

In this module we investigate the creative processes and carry out production of assemblies, in order to make real space proposals for brands and companies that trust their campaigns to our team of students and tutors. With the aim of promoting this creative and productive process, the module proposes a brief historical  and intellectual review of the emergence of the shop window as an urgent need for communication and of a new subjectivity that emerges with the birth of the modern citizen, providing a whole culture of added values that help brands to position themselves in a market so in need of ideas and specialized professionals.

  • Visual language and its tools.
  • Spatial and visual concepts applied to
  • Analysis and research of the sector from its visual and material
  • Communication and narration through the retail space.
  • Window. Skin: A contemporary review of the window displays.
  • Brand, identity and
  • Shop window lighting
  • Development of assembly organization and budget.
  • Case studies.

This module combines project and theory. We analyze how traditional trade has taken over the spaces of transport, tourist and cultural sites and has made mobility an instrument aimed at replacing traditional proximity trade with transit trade. The main goal of this project is to work within an environment for retail as specific as a transit commercial space, such as airports or museums. The consumer’s behavior in that environment, that of a passenger in transit, will be analyzed, and their needs to design a space to serve it. From lighting materials, or exhibition strategy, it is about developing a project that helps to have a vision not only special and design of the interior space, but from the point of view of the scale, from a general spatial vision to the detail. Students will also be able to learn first-hand about the function and structure of IKEA’s department of Commin (Communication & Interior Design), com- posed of visual merchandisers, interior designers and graphic designers, and will take a guided tour of the facilities where they will be able to study live examples of the areas that make up the layout of the store, and the display techniques that are applied to facilitate the purchase.

  • Introduction and presentation of case
  • Unconventional transit Typologies and formats.
  • Development of distribution
  • Lighting and concept package for an integral projects
  • Dual retail. Cross-selling businesses
  • “Experience” at the point of sale
  • Product/ service categories

In this module the student will learn the fundamentals of contemporary retail marketing to move to its applications in this field. We will analyse the corporate strategy, the portfolio of products or solutions, the communication tools online and offline and instore. You’ll work on marketing projects and also on selling points.

  • Introduction to marketing and course presentation
  • Market analysis. Lifecycle, optimization, portfolio and segmentation
  • Distribution, structure and zoning of retail spaces
  • Visual merchandising as a strategic operation.
  • Omnichannel.
  • Commercial strategies implementation

This module consists of a pop-up store design project. The main goal is to generate new spaces with a selection of products. This will allow discovering new retail formats in which the experience prevails before the sale, and in which the concept and storytelling is more linked to an “artistic installation” than to the idea we have of a more conventional store. The research of new materials and versatile and ephemeral constructive solutions, as well as alternative formats for the graphic representation of the proposals will be key for the development of this project.

  • Introduction and presentation of the module
  • Pop-up stores, shop in shops, fair stands and new formats for sale.
  • Case studies.
  • Art and ephemeral architecture for new ways of retail.
  • Materiality and building solutions
  • Storytelling at the point of sale, from concept to reality

In this module we will understand the importance of the graphic message in the commercial space and its application in the different languages, supports and formats. Projects and strategies will be analysed in real contexts and the use of graphic tools will be made to understand the visual language involved.

  • Design as strategy
  • Segmentation model MIN
  • Brand-customer experience (ERMC) and strategic management
  • Introduction to the research analysis and optimization processes
  • Definition of the values and expressive codes of the brands
  • Languages, supports and formats
  • Practical case developing a placement proposal in the city of Barcelona

This module is divided into two parts. One part seeks to define the concept of merchandising and explain its usefulness in a retail chain. The different kinds of merchandising and their application in large chains are defined. Through real cases, success strategies and their use according to the brand’s positioning are explained. The documentation is continuously updated, thus adapting to the reality of a constantly evolving sector. It is as much about getting the strategies right now as it is about being able to detect those that will be right in the future.

In the second part different actions with displays are proposed; we will see typologies of them and the different distribution channels. We will propose and investigate possible strategies to minimize the impact left by the displays once the commercial action has ended.

How can we reduce the generated waste?

We will see all the actors involved in these actions, from brands, suppliers, logistics groups, distribution or retail and the final consumer; in order to minimize the environmental impact that the actions produce.

  • What is merchandising? History, disambiguation and types
  • Brand study: Who am I? Target customer, product
  • Visual merchandising strategy
  • Seasonal merchandising strategy
  • Merchandising within a fashion retail chain
  • The shop of the future inVM
  • DISPLAYS strategies:
    • DISPLAYS typology and materials
    • Distribution channels.
    • Logistical improvements to reduce CO2 footprint.
    • Joint productions to optimize costs
    • Circular economy actions in large scale distribution
    • The reuse and customization of the DISPLAYS to minimize material consumption

To make students aware of the need to implement innovative and sustainable criteria in the design process in general and in retail in particular, emphasizing the competitive advantages of building a sustainable design, which can be on a large scale, and to the incorporation of these criteria in the earliest stages of design, understanding them as core content and not as add-ons or “green- wash” or “social projects.” To this end, a collaborative exercise was developed with different roles and current issues in relation to retail, community and responsible commerce.

  • Market trends.
  • Strategies and scales in trade/ retail actions
  • Towards a committed leadership: roles and discussion tools
  • Creative collaborative structures
  • Project strategies and retail proposals for investors and consumers

This module reviews the work of the “retail designer” which is not only based on the aesthetics of the point of sale, the de- sign has to encompass other disciplines so that the space offers the customer more than just the sale of a product. The main goal of this module is to completely develop a project for a brand (some past examples like Tous, Nike, Sony, MUJI, Swarovski). Projects with real companies where all the needs of a retail project today are answered; from the user experience to the technical documentation.

SAI Program Fees* USD
Application Fee $140
Program Fee
Includes tuition, Master’s degree and SAI Select Services (see What’s Included).
Contact SAI
Optional / Additional Fees:  
International Mailing Supplement
When applicable, students are charged an international mailing supplement to ensure visa paperwork arrives in a timely manner.

*prices are subject to change

Budget Low Est. High Est.
Airfare to/from Barcelona
$900 $1,100
Cost depends on travel to Consulate.
$160 $360
Books, Supplies & Course Fees $300 $500
Includes groceries and eating out.
$400 / month $800 / month
SAI can provide recommendations.
$1,000 / month $1,300 / month
Personal Expenses $350 / month $450 / month
Transportation within Barcelona
Public transportation with some taxi rides.
$100 / month $150 / month
Weekend Travel
Cost varies greatly by student.
$300 / month $1,000 / month

This is an SAI Select Services Program; it includes the important on-site services!

  • Master’s Degree awarded by Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) and Elisava Barcelona School of Design and Engineering
  • Program tuition
  • Student health insurance providing full coverage and medical emergency evacuation
  • SAI orientation to the host city and school
  • SAI staff on-site providing assistance as needed and 24-hour emergency support

Pre-departure and Re-entry services

  • US-based admissions counselor assigned to you, providing friendly assistance
  • Helpful pre-departure tools and resources
  • Assistance with student visa application
  • Paid registration fees for national re-entry conferences
  • SAI alumni network

Housing is not included in SAI Select Services Programs. However, your SAI Admissions Counselor will be happy to provide you with information and recommendations for housing agencies, dormitories, and rentals in Barcelona. Students who do not have prior housing arrangements should begin speaking with their Admissions Counselor as soon as possible. All students are required to submit to SAI information regarding their housing arrangements prior to program start.

Passports should be valid for 6 months after planned departure from Spain.

Student Visas
In accordance with Spanish law students studying in Spain for 6 months or more are required to obtain a long stay student visa. Those with Spanish/EU citizenship are exempted. Non-US nationals should consult their local Consulate for details on student visa requirements.