Markopoulos
Award Winners

1997
2019

An Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar… these are prestigious awards for their respective industries. And while the prestige and honor of the awards remain, how many truly know the story of their origin, their historical roots? While the Emmy is celebrating its 67th year, the Grammy its 58th and the Oscar its 88th, in the retail de-sign industry, the Markopoulos Award is celebrating 23 years. This award may have a shorter history than the aforementioned, but it recognizes truly outstanding achievement and contributions in visual merchandising and store design. It is the most prestigious award in the retail industry, named after the late visual merchandising legend Andrew Markopoulos.

Markopoulos set the bar high with his captivating store design and visual merchandising work, his leadership and innovation for Dayton-Hudson, as well as his commitment to mentoring and nurturing the next generation of retail talent. Every year, with each new recipient, the bar remains high and challenges professionals to do more and be more, to continue to elevate the industry. There is one celebrated industry professional for each year of the award, so this is an exciting time to reflect on 20 years and 20 award winners. 

The recipients are nominated by peers and selected by The Markopoulos Circle of previous recipients based on their lifetime achievements and overall career accomplishments, their ability to innovate and inspire, their contributions to the success of a particular retailer or company, their ability to nurture and mentor young talent, and their ongoing contributions and support of the retail design and visual industries. The recipients are admirable role models on both a professional and personal level. It is an important time in the 

history of this award to remember the man it was named after-Andrew Markopoulos-and the qualities he represents. We reached out to our past award winners to offer them a chance to reminisce about Andy, to celebrate their cherished memories of their friendship with him, their professional encounters with him or their knowledge of him. It is our hope that Andy’s influence on the industry continues onward, so that the Markopoulos legacy can continue, and the significance of the award can be maintained for generations to come.

Dan Evans
Markopoulos Award Winner 2019

Managing Partner & EVP at Wests Design

Members of The Markopoulos Circle are esteemed for their ability to innovate and inspire, their contributions to the success of a retailer or company, their ability to nurture and mentor young talent, and their ongoing contributions and support of the retail design and visual industries. Evans’ achievements and contributions in each of these areas is more than exemplary. He is considered an industry champion.

“Dan champions reinvention for the industry, for students and for himself—pushing it all forward in a positive, must-happen direction,” says Tom Beebe, creative consultant, stylist, window wizard and 2010 Markopoulos Award winner.

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Anne Kong
Markopoulos Award Winner 2018

Program Coordinator for Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design Associate Professor at Fashion Institute of Technology

Anne Kong is an educator and a designer specializing in Visual Presentation, Exhibition and Special Events with more than 20 years of experience developing design concepts and solutions for retail, showrooms, trade shows and promotional events.

As a Professor and former Chairperson of the Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design Department at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, she is best known for innovating professional collaborations between retailers and brands to enhance the classroom experience for her students.

Anne is a partner of creative services for her own design company, A+D Kong that she shares with her husband David, working with a vast range of clients on consulting and producing large-scale installations.

She is an advisory member for Retail Design International [RSD Publishing] and serves on the PAVE Committee [The Partnership for Planning and Visual Education] and is responsible for organizing the Annual PAVE Gala Student Exhibition each year. Anne is an expert juror for Global Innovation Awards (gia) programme run by the International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago and International Housewares Association (IHA) of the US.

Her design work has been recognized by the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum and she has developed programs and lectures in participation with the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C.

More information on Anne Kong

Linda Lombardi
Markopoulos Award Winner 2017

VP, Global Store Design and Visual Merchandising at Godiva Chocolatier

The 21st recipient, Linda Lombardi, head of global store design for Godiva Chocolatier Inc., has enjoyed a diverse design career that has included working with global brands and companies at pivotal moments in their legacies to help them innovate and stay at the top of their games.

From playing a part in window theater with Saks Fifth Avenue to exploring the meaning of hospitality with The Inn at Perry Cabin to churning out retail experiences with Liz Claiborne and elevating the brand experience for Godiva, Lombardi has worked in men’s fashion, home furnishings, hospitality and the culinary world of chocolate.

With more than 25 years in the industry working for a prestigious list of global brands, she has a long list of accolades and accomplishments. During her close to 14 years with Liz Claiborne, she was at one point dealing with more than 40 brands under one corporate umbrella. In 2012, Lombardi was recognized as a Retail Design Influencer and as a Luminary in 2013 as part of design:retail’s Portfolio Awards. Under her leadership, the Godiva retail store and visual merchandising efforts were recognized multiple times for design excellence.

More information on Linda Lombardi

Bill Goddu
Markopoulos Award Winner 2016

Chief Brand Ambassador at eie Experiential Interior Environments & Green Cloud Design Build

eie-environments and eie-Greencloud are new and uniquely positioned synthesis of design and build expertise focused on supporting the needs of the experiential interior environments industry including the cannabis industry.

We bring years of collective retail experience and proven partnerships across a full spectrum of design and manufacturing disciplines, both onshore and offshore. Engage these disciplines coupled with our seasoned service, project management and you’ll realize your blue-sky ambitions with the eie service team.

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Ken Smart
Markopoulos Award Winner 2015

Ralph Pucci International

Each year, design:retail presents the Markopoulos Award to one outstanding professional from the visual merchandising and store design industry. It is named in honor of the late Andrew Markopoulos, whose tenure as senior vice president of visual merchandising and store design for the department store division of Dayton Hudson elevated the field from a trade to an art form.

Ken Smart, currently an artistic design director with Ralph Pucci Intl., is the 19th designee of the peer-awarded honor. From G. Fox, Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s to Marshall Field’s, Harrods and Saks, Smart’s career in the visual industry has made a stop over myriad retail touchpoints.

During his time as vice president of visual for Saks Fifth Avenue, Smart created “Project Art,” working with numerous artists to merge their creations with fashion and bring them to life in new ways. Collaborations with artists like Charles Long, William Wegman, Kenny Scharf and Vitto Acconci created memorable installations in Saks windows around the country. Some of his collaborations even resulted in books.

Smart left Saks in 2003 when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and started working with Ralph Pucci Intl. about six years ago. While at Ralph Pucci, Smart has assisted with numerous special projects, including “Pratt, Paper, Pucci,” a student contest that was displayed in Macy’s windows. Currently, Smart is working on a tribute show for Ralph Pucci that will take place at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York. “Ralph Pucci: The Art of the Mannequin” will run from March 31-Aug. 30. Read more on this year’s Markopoulos Award Winer, Ken Smart, in our March issue.

More information on Ken Smart

Harry Cunningham
Markopoulos Award Winner 2014

VP Retail Brand Experience at Vera Bradley

I was in such a pivotal point in my career, as senior vice president of store planning, design and visual mer-chandising for Saks Fifth Avenue, when I received the Markopoulos Award. It is one of the absolute highlights

of my career. Being a recipient of this award allows me to tell Andy’s story longer and share with more future retailers, visual merchandisers and designers the importance of being wall rounded and never forgetting why we are all here. We are storytellers, and we must always stay true to that legacy. No technology can aver replace that; it only enhances that. I’m sure that if Andy was with us today, he’d be thinking of amazing ways to reinvent what we do using all our current tools in only the best ways.

As we in The Markopoulos Circle talk every time we’re together, whether it is two of us, or now 20 of us. we’re constantly reminded of the importance of being well rounded in this industry, and how each one of us must continua to uphold Andy’s legacy. That legacy is not only push-ing this industry forward by creating amazing things for our business-whether that be new store designs, display wridows or seasonal installations-but also how we are educating and supporting that next generation every single day.

Without them, we are nothing, and they equally need us to help guide them into the future.

More information on Harry Cunningham

Joseph Feczko
Markopoulos Award Winner 2013

Innovator, Agent of Change, Experienced Brand Developer and Strategist

Joe is a man possessed of those unique talents that when combined, add up to one consummate marketing executive. His creative, artistic vision, realistic business perspective, and ability to forecast, market and merchandise what the customer wants and how best to bring it to him or her, have paved Joe’s road to success within the walls of some of the country’s most distinguished stores.

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Eric Feigenbaum
Markopoulos Award Winner 2012

President of Embrace Design

Eric Feigenbaum is a recognized leader in the visual merchandising and store design industries with both domestic and international design experience. He served as corporate director of visual merchandising for Stern’s Department Store, a division of Federated Department Stores, from 1986 to 1995. After Stern’s, he assumed the position of director of visual merchandising for WalkerGroup/CNI, an architectural design firm in New York City. Feigenbaum was also an adjunct professor of Store Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology and formerly served as the chair of the Visual Merchandising Department at LIM College (New York) from 2000 to 2015. In addition to being the Editorial Advisor/New York Editor of VMSD magazine, Eric is also a founding member of PAVE (A Partnership for Planning and Visual Education). In 2012, Eric was awarded the coveted Markopoulos Award, the most prestigious visual merchandising industry award. Today Eric speaks on visual merchandising and store design on an international basis with presentations in Madrid, Rio, Sao Paulo, Hong Kong, Mexico City, Dusseldorf, Lima, Sydney, and Melbourne, to name a few.

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Denny Gerdeman
Markopoulos Award Winner 2011

Chairman and Founder at Chute Gerdeman

Denny’s reign in the industry, as well as Chute Gerdeman’s awards and recognition, have made him a well-known presence in the community of retailers, service providers and manufacturers of consumer products. DDI magazine honored him as a Retail Design Influencer. He was inducted into the Retail Design Institute Retail Design Legion of Honor for his lifetime contributions that have influenced and shaped retailing, store design, and the design cultureboth here and abroad. He was also named the 2011 Markopoulos Award winner by DDI magazine recognizing his distinguished career as well as his efforts to give back to the profession. The prestigious honor, named after the late visual merchandising legend Andrew Markopoulos, is presented annually by DDI to one outstanding industry professional. In September of 2014, Denny received design:retail magazine’s annual Luminary award, an award given to “outstanding individuals who have demonstrated unparalleled creative excellence, exemplary professional leadership and unwavering personal commitment to the retail design industry—lighting the way for others, inspiring us with their accomplishments and visionary guidance.”

Gerdeman is president of PAVE (the Planning and Visual Education Partnership) and is a member and past president of the Ohio Chapter of Retail Design Institute. He also has served on the A.R.E. Board of Directors and is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board for design:retail magazine.

Specialties: Widely regarded by the retail industry as a thought leader, Denny’s work has been published in magazines such as DDI, VMSD, Contract, and Chain Store Age. He is also a requested speaker for retail symposiums around the world including GlobalShop, EuroShop, the National Retail Federation (NRF), SPECS, The Shop in New Delhi, India, and the World Retail Congress.

More information on Denny Gerdeman

Tom Beebe
Markopoulos Award Winner 2010

Creative Consultant

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Ralph Pucci
Markopoulos Award Winner 2009

Ralph Pucci International

Andy was always looking for newness, freshness … what’s next. In 1994, I introduced the TANGO collection designed by the author/olustrator Maira Kalman. He loved the colorful personalities of each character. He was so excited. At the time, Dayton-Hudson was devel-oping a new concept to i1troduce wor1<day casual clothing. It was goi1g to be the store’s biggest launch in years. He proposed to his management eight to 10 Kalman mannequins dressed in ‘wor1<day casuar at all the store entrances as ‘greeters.’ a total of 500 man-nequins. Management felt it was exciting and unique. but too expensive. He was asked to come back with another idea. He re-thought his idea and came back with a new proposal. This time there would be 1,000 Maira Kalman mannequins with their images also used on shoppi1g bags, bll:Joards, television commercials and as the “models” in the Dayton-Hudson catalog. Management loved the idea and went for it That was Andy Mar1<opoulos, always the showman, always pushing the envelope, always looking to create the WOW. Years later. a top Dayton-Hudson executive told me that the wor1<day casual launch was the “biggest bang for the buck’ that he was ever involved with in retail.

I met Andy when I was 21 years old. He became my mentor and dear friend. He always encouraged me to take chances and to be different to take it to uncharted waters.

Andy was always trying to elevate the visual merchandising field by creating unique, qualty work. He thought of the big picture-the blending of visual, store planning, mar1<eting and fashion to create a unique brand. He felt the visual field was under-appreciated and had to constantly ‘challenge’ top management to take it to the next level. Through his extraor-dinary style, professionalism and demanding the best from everyone, he became a legend. Through his consistency and clear message, his legend is still relevant today.

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Alfredo Paredes
Markopoulos Award Winner 2008

ALFREDO PAREDES STUDIO – New York

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Jack Hruska
Markopoulos Award Winner 2007

Executive Vice President of Creative Servicesat Bloomingdales Jack Hruska Bloomingdale’s

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Michael Cape
Markopoulos Award Winner 2006

Founder, Creative Director at Twist Modern

Michael Cape has more than 25 years of experience in marketing, fixture and store design, visual merchandising, product development, packaging and public relations for the retail and apparel industries.

Cape specializes in consulting services for retail and apparel brands providing marketing leadership in brand positioning, marketing strategy, online and social media, consumer insights, creative development, new brand launches, store design and public relations.

Cape was the Executive Vice President of Marketing for Old Navy where he directed all aspects of marketing including broadcast, online and print advertising, in-store promotion, CRM, media and public relations.

Cape joined Old Navy after six years at JCPenney, as Vice President, Director of Brand Marketing. In this position, he was responsible for total campaign development, broadcast advertising , national print advertising, in-store graphics and visual, packaging and gift registry.

He joined JCPenney in 2001 as Vice President, Director of Store Design and Visual and was responsible for all visual merchandising programs, in-store marketing and fixtures and store design for 1,100 stores. In this role, Cape directed the development of the JCPenney Store of the Future prototype and rollout.

Cape’s innovative work has been featured in Fortune, USA Today, Associated Press, CNN, Fox News, Wall Street Journal, Brandweek, Display and Design Ideas and Advertising Age.

Cape was recognized with the Markopoulos Award as the Industry Leader in Store Design and Visual Merchandising by Design:Retail Magazine in 2006. He also received the Retail Luminary Award as one of the Top 5 Leaders in Retail by DDI Magazine.

Michael has given keynote addresses at GlobalShop in Las Vegas, The Design Collective Show in New York and EuroShop in Dusseldorf.

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James Damian
Markopoulos Award Winner 2005

Chief Strategic Design Officer at Grottini Advanced Retail World

The thing that brought Andy and I together in the late 1970s was a common ground of good manners and impeccable presen-tation. He was very articulate. I was attracted to that type of presence early in my career. He represented the ideal that you must present yourself at the highest standard, or your work will fall short. Andy and I shared that connection. When I started in the industry, I was drawn to the department store window. His had a sense of personal innate style and was committed to educating himself in a worldly manner. He had a Greek background, traveled Europe and educated himself. Andy was a pioneer in breaking the glass ceiling in making taste and design the being and presence of Dayton-Hudson.

He made display a profit canter. He was the one who broke through and had such a good rapport with management, and that intersection between design and corporate. Andrew was more than a display man, visual merchandiser or store designer. He gave cred-ibility and respect to our craft in the world of business.

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Christine Belich
Markopoulos Award Winner 2004

Global retail storyteller & consultant; executive experience visual merchandising, brand marketing & creative direction

Award-winning executive creative retail director and vice president with extensive background conceptualizing 360-degree consumer experiences in retail storytelling through visual merchandising, store design, strategic branding, communication and marketing events in both specialty and department store environments.

Develop and lead creative teams; responsible for innovative marketing, visuals and store environments for major global technology brands and luxury fashion brands. Focus on innovation, cohesive multi-channel customer journey, and display technology techniques. Passionate about building relationships with consumers through brand authenticity and engaging and compelling in-store experiences across all brand channels.

Consulting responsibilities include inspiring transformation team to strategically guide brands to elevate positioning in marketplace, and providing creative direction and vendor management to achieve transformation agendas.

More information on Christine Belich

Simon Doonan
Markopoulos Award Winner 2003

Creative Ambassador at Barneys, New York

Doonan comes from the English town of Reading. His first retail job was a summer position at Heelas, a department store in Reading, now owned by the John Lewis Partnership. After returning to work at the same store after university, he first got involved in the art of window dressing. He later left Reading for London and dressed windows at Aquascutum before moving to Nutters of Savile Row.

Invited to dress his windows by the proprietor of Maxfield, a department store in Los Angeles, Doonan moved to the United States in 1978. He joined the Barneys staff in 1986 as a window dresser.

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Chuck Luckenbill
Markopoulos Award Winner 2002

Vice President, Visual Merchandising and Space Planning at Party City

After leaving Dayton-Hudson, I called Andy to ask for advice on decision making. He said, ‘Always trust your instincts, because you will find them to be right.” It was a short conversation, but good advice that I have always remembered.

When we took market trips with Andy, he always took the time to take us on a side trip-if we were in San Francisco, we would go to Muir Woods or Sausalito. In New York, it would be The Cloisters, the Morgan Library or the Met at Christmas. When asked why, he said, ‘Because it’s good for your soul. You will see how it will help you later.” He believed in going off the beaten path, as it supports the out-of-the-box thinking process.A few years after the Muir Woods trip, we were working on a campaign called Boundary Waters. My mind went back to that trip as we began creating our own little Muir Woods in the stores.

Andy was a dapper dresser. Casual for him meant white slacks with pleats and a shirt and sweater, with another sweater draped over his shoulders. On our trip to Sausalito, a few fellow travelers on the ferry were mockingly admiring his perfect attire, and as they did, a number of seagulls added poop to their wardrobe. Andy laughed and said to us, ‘You have to watch what you say. God will get you.”

As an award recipient, it is an honor to be recognized by the industry and my peers. It is an honor to become part of a prestigious and elite group of 20 people over 20 years. As recipients. it is our duty to carry forward his high standard of design excellence and his belief in giving back to the industry. As one of the few professionals in this group who has reported directly to Andy, I feel that it is a true honor of his memory. He was a professional father figure to me, and that personal connection and gratitude that I have toward him was strengthened with this award.

Andy is one of the few leaders responsible for elevating our jobs to become a profession, from display people and window trimmers to visual merchants. He believed and nurtured his teams to have the courage of their convictions. He led by example. He always carried himself as a leader and as a professional, and taught us all the importance of that He set a standard for the industry, a standard of professionalism, of how to present yourself in a manner that will be listened to and taken seriously by management when you try to sell an idea. He was a master collaborator. He brought key people to the table as an idea was forming, so that when it was time to present to the decision makers, he had everyone on the same page.

At Andy’s funeral, the priest told what might be a familiar story about a man passing away and when he gets to heaven, St Peter is showing him around God’s mansion. There is another man running around, moving art and putting everythilg in its place. The man on the tour asks St. Peter. “Is that God?” St. Peter replies, ‘No, that is Andrew Markopoulos.” Those at the funeral knew this to be a true depiction.

More information on Chuck Luckenbill

Linda Fargo
Markopoulos Award Winner 2001

SVP Fashion and Store Presentation Director at Bergdorf Goodman

inda Fargo is the senior vice president (since 2006) of the fashion office and the director of women’s fashion and store presentation for the Bergdorf Goodman department store in New York City.

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James Mansour
Markopoulos Award Winner 2000

James Mansour Design

Andrew was a titan who ruled department stores when department stores ruled retail. Over the years as we became friends, he never grandstanded. He didn’t need to—11e had the total support of his CEO (and an enviable budget), as well as the passionate commitment of his co-workers. I was a brash young insurgent on a mission to revolutionize specialty retailing. While we were competitors, he was always gracious and encouraging.

Two mementos from Andrew:
1. A photo of me seated between my proud parents with Andrew leaning in to offer congratulations on winning a Visual Merchandiser of the Year award (which hung in my parents home to the end).
2. A beautiful Bohemian glass Christmas ornament Andrew gave to me after a junket to Czechoslovakia. A devoted family man, it’s not surprising Christmas was his favorite season.
As an early recipient of the Markopoulos Award, it was a phenomenal honer. I choked up when I took the stage to accept.

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Judy Bell
Markopoulos Award Winner 1999

CEO – Chief Energetic Officer, Energetic Retail

Winning the Markopoulos Award was a moment of pure joy. I have loved working in the design industry since my first display job carrying around my industrial toolbox in my painter pants, earning only $2 an hour, right up to this very day. To be recognized for that passion was a genuine gift My heart was pounding as I waited in the audience for the awards event to begin. I carried the trophy with me all night as I attended parties around Chicago after the event. I didn’t want to put it down.

Andy’s legacy was to encourage visual merchandisers to be fully en-gaged in the retail design industry, participating on boards, speaking on panels, teaching and leading. Andy’s goals live on as we act as his emissaries, and set an example for others to continue on the path he laid out for us, which contributes to the success of the entire industry.

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Tony Mancini
Markopoulos Award Winner 1998

Chief Executive Officer at ThinkTank Retail Hospitality Group LLC

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Ignaz Gorischek
Markopoulos Award Winner 1997

VP of Architecture CallisonRTKL

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