Queen’s Award for Lumsden Design

Design agency Lumsden has won a coveted Queen’s Award for Enterprise*. Her Majesty The Queen announced the 2017 winners today [April 21 2017].

The design business, based in London’s Clerkenwell, won the Queen’s Award for International Trade for Outstanding Short Term Growth. It has seen its overseas sales almost triple in just three years.

Founded in 2010, Lumsden first established itself as a leader in designing retail environments for museums, galleries and visitor attractions in the UK.

Its compelling retail designs are at the British Museum, National Theatre, Abbey Road Studios, Tate Modern and the Harry Potter shops at Warner Bros. Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter, King’s Cross Station’s Platform 9¾, and, most recently, the theatre production Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

After deciding to export its expertise, its three-year 177 per cent growth in international sales has been driven by projects including New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Harry Potter attractions in Florida and California, National Gallery of Canada, Vienna’s Belvedere and Moscow’s Museum of Cosmonautics.

Rapid growth in commissions on three continents have driven Lumsden’s international sales to nearly 90 per cent of its turnover. This remarkable achievement has established Lumsden nationally and internationally as a world leader in its field for cultural and entertainment destinations, crossing cultural and language barriers, with a reputation for excellence and innovation.

Co-founder and director Callum Lumsden said his nine-strong team is thrilled to win the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: “It’s brilliant that together we have built another tremendous success story for British design being valued all over the world.

“When you ally hugely creative talent with clients who want their shops to be unlike any others, they are truly immersive experiences which form an enjoyable and memorable part of the visitor experience.

“Our designs are judged not just for their visual impact but for their success in generating vital revenue which is reinvested in acquisitions, new exhibitions, employment, culture and the community they are located in.”


*The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are the UK’s most prestigious business awards, given to companies or individuals who are outstanding in their field. International Trade winners have demonstrated that their business has achieved substantial growth in overseas earnings and in commercial success through either outstanding achievement over three years or continuous achievement over six years.

A New Chapter for Bookshops?

Book shops seem to be getting noticed again.

Time was when they were being written off as the dinosaurs of the retail world.

“Nobody wants to buy books anymore.”

“Everybody will be downloading books onto their kindles.”

“Bookshops are staffed by scholarly, unapproachable staff in stuffy environments which bear no resemblance to our digitally connected world order.”

“Kids don’t want to read books anymore, they’re too busy looking at the screens on their smart phones”

But witness the recent spate of book retailers hitting the headlines such as Waterstones. Its latest format strategy is to masquerade as ‘local’ bookshops in county towns with little overt evidence of parental ownership. Brand stretch in a dangerous direction I would suggest.

Then there’s Amazon. The bête noire of book retail has, inevitably in my opinion, opened its first bricks and mortar store in Seattle. And I was surprised and delighted to see the launch of the new Muji bookshop format in Tokyo. Muji? The ‘no brand brand’? What will they be thinking of selling us next? Well a Muji house, actually.

The world’s perception of bookshops is changing, in my view, with a number of important influencers. Are we seeing a shift from the stereotypical bookshop in the film Notting Hill, as a place of gay repartee, romantic encounter and celebrity dalliance?

Well, architects seem to think so. The proliferation of architectural bookshop concepts, realised or imagined, over the past couple of years is astonishing. I’m sure the inspiration started from the Tadao Ando Library in Japan, which was one of the most inspiring examples of using the monumentality of books as inspiration for architectural drama. The conversion of the Selexyz Dominicanen Church in Maastricht to a bookshop, the Zhongshuge Bookstore in China and the very cool Cultura Bookstore in São Paulo demonstrate how books can provide the ingredients for the creation of a literary cathedral.

Then there’s JK Rowling. She singlehandedly transformed reading a book from something old people do to something the younger generation love. If you take a look at the current best sellers which the millennials are buying, then yes they read books as well. Consider the massive following we are witnessing in teen fiction of authors such as Suzanne Collins, Tolkein, Milan Kundera and of course the creator of Harry Potter. Maybe a few architects should take a look at Harry Potter’s Flourish & Botts for architectural inspiration.

And then there’s superhero worship. Comics have become, and they always have been in France and Japan, an accepted literary medium. The Gosh! comic bookshop in London’s Soho is currently up for an accolade from the British Book Awards as Independent Bookshop of the Year. We wish them good luck!

So is Flourish & Botts the way to design bookshops or should we be inspired by towering rows of bookshelves as a kind of literary brick pattern, decorating architecture in a totally inaccessible but dramatic way?

Here are my four ‘must remember’ diktats for the design of any bookshop:

  • Bookshops are not libraries
  • Books sell better from tables
  • Front facing books sell better than spines
  • Contemplative areas for customers to graze through books are vital

Let me leave you with this thought. Bookshops should think way more out of the box and consider a more specialist approach. How about acknowledging the massive following we are witnessing in teen fiction as inspiration for book shops which appeal to this market?

I would love to design that project.



Callum Lumsden, Creative Director.

MoMA New York Design Store talk at the Retail Design Expo

Lumsden’s Creative Director, Callum Lumsden, will be co-presenting a talk with Ruth Shapiro, Director of stores and business development from the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

They will be sharing their expert opinions on the new MoMA Design Store at the Retail Design Expo in London on 8/9 May.

Take a first glimpse here, at Ruth Shapiro’s interview for Retail Design World website.

MoMA news in The Wall Street Journal

An update on the Museum of Modern Art’s expansion plans featured in The Wall Street Journal.

One of the most radical changes in the new design would affect the museum’s on-site retail shop.

Currently at street level with windows facing the sidewalk on West 53rd Street, the MoMA Store would be moved below ground to make room for an expanded lobby. Museum officials are prepared for a drop in revenue, partially offset by a new, additional retail space that would be built adjacent to the museum’s second-floor cafe. The below-ground store would have a cut-away ceiling, so people could peer down into it from the lobby and the street.

Read the full article here.