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2024 Designer Dozen: Surbhi Gupta




2024 Designer Dozen: Surbhi Gupta
Surbhi Gupta
Studio Director — Strategy and Design, FRDC
Age: 35

Favorite Animal: Ruler of the household – majestic purring cats!
Favorite City to Visit: Berlin


As FRDC’s Studio Director – Strategy and Design, Surbhi has worked on a range of projects and has strong interests in retail design, human development and user experience, all things that, according to her co-workers, enable her to craft relevant and enjoyable designs. Some of Surbhi’s robust volunteer work includes working with MAD (Make a Difference), a leading India NGO intended to elevate the communication skills of underprivileged children; partnering with The Better Design Foundation, a non-profit aiming to create equitable development opportunities for urban populations through human-centered design approaches in the field of education; and mentoring interns in-house at FRDC. She has also worked on unusual and innovative projects, like one for the Phonak hearing aid company, where she sought to improve the customer experience.

2024 Designer Dozen: Surbhi Gupta 📷 Courtesy of FRDC, Bengaluru, India

Retail changes every day. What role do you see physical stores playing in the future?

I believe physical stores will continue to play a crucial role despite the rise of e-commerce and digital shopping experiences. While online shopping does offer convenience and better accessibility, physical stores have the unique advantage of bringing ‘real-time tactile experiences’ and ‘personal interactions’ that foster emotional connections with brands. Physical stores will develop into experiential hubs that are more than just places for transactions; they will become places where customers can immerse themselves, interact and take part in carefully curated activities that will leave them with unforgettable shopping experiences.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

It doesn’t feel like work when we are collaborating, exchanging diverse perspectives or delving into unique insights to tackle challenges. A new challenge to solve every day!

What’s the biggest challenge you have faced professionally?

Remaining relevant in the face of ever-evolving consumer preferences and industry trends is a major challenge. It is paramount to find the ideal mix between innovation and familiarity, constantly adapt and improve in order to align with evolving customer behaviors and market circumstances.


What experience or specific interest has shaped you as a designer?

Some of my best work has come when the design approach is not just limited to physical spaces but also requires a deep understanding of customers’ emotions and empathy. A few of my previous stints emphasized prioritizing user emotions alongside physical spaces. This has shaped my approach to design over the years, where I have started to incorporate empathy and experience as key elements in my design solutions.

If I had a completely unlimited budget, I would…

…build a retail empire that puts Willy Wonka’s factory to shame.

My favorite thing to do when I leave the office is…

…finding new ways to get lost in the city streets.

My dream project is…

…transforming an abandoned warehouse into a vibrant community hub, prioritizing accessibility.




MasterClass: ‘Re-Sparkling’ Retail: Using Store Design to Build Trust, Faith and Brand Loyalty

HOW CAN WE EMPOWER and inspire senior leaders to see design as an investment for future retail growth? This session, led by retail design expert Ian Johnston from Quinine Design, explores how physical stores remain unmatched in the ability to build trust, faith, and loyalty with your customers, ultimately driving shareholder value.

Presented by:
Ian Johnston
Founder and Creative Director, Quinine Design

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