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A retail design firm from Brisbane, Australia, with outposts in Taiwan’s Taichung and Basel, Switzerland, and an office in Denver. That, put very simply, describes Project Duo, and given the name, it might appear that the two brothers who founded the consultancy are spreading themselves thin.

They are not; it’s just that having established themselves in their antipodean homeland, Justin and Randal Huntington parted, with the former staying in Queensland to create and manage things in the Aussie studio. Randal headed for North America, pitching up in Denver, where he now heads the U.S. office.

Randal still returns to Australia about four times a year, and in the 18 months since setting up in Colorado, he has come to a few conclusions about his new home: “I’m a great believer in keeping your finger on the pulse globally,” he says. “I came to the U.S., and in some retail circles there seems to be limited effort and value put on learning from the wins and lessons of looking internationally. Everything we do is about solving problems by asking the right questions and applying innovative solutions. I’m really passionate about great design, and I do believe that great design can solve a lot of problems.”

The design bug, in fact, hit Huntington from an early age. “As a kid I would draw and design all the time,” he says. “While backpacking in the U.S. in my late teens, a friend’s mother told me that you could actually make a living out of a pencil, paper and an overactive mind.” The outcome was a degree in industrial design, which he started in 1989 at the University of Wisconsin–Stout and then finished and progressed to a graduate degree at the University of Queensland, Australia. 

Despite its relatively short life in the U.S., Project Duo’s self-belief is shared by others. Bike brand Cannondale (Bethel, Conn.) is featured prominently in the agency’s portfolio with store “kits” that have been created to be transported in one shipping container to the point of need, as well as work for Dick’s Sporting Goods (Coraopolis, Pa.), Shimano (Irvine, Calif.) and Benotto bicycles (Torino, Italy), among others.

In the end, what comes across is an interior design process founded as much in product creation as in the fashioning of store environments.

“I always start the design process by developing a design brief,” Huntington explains. “Once I have that, I go hunting for inspiration that lines up with the brief. If that means to design an Italian restaurant, I need to fly to Italy … Great design is only great design if it is judged against a brief, honed [in] from great questions.”  

Each year, VMSD profiles three product designers in its January “Look Book” issue. For more information on nominating a designer for the 2019 Look Book, please click here or contact a VMSD editor by emailing




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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