Design formation students put advertising skills to the test

Yidan Li
Design formation student Yidan Li poses with her Nescafé retail design project.

Design formation students are being equipped with merchandising skills necessary to parlay their design talents into a career in advertising.

First-year students in the program have recently completed their corrugated cardboard projects, which are now on display outside the design formation department. The three-dimensional designs are based around retail products as the class focuses on the marketing aspect of design.

“Retail visual presentation has been important forever,” said Kevin Smith, instructor of the retail visual presentation class. “It’s your silent salesperson. It’s your way of showing off merchandise, whether it’s in a window or a store display.”

The design formation program focuses on the development of foundation skills in two- and three-dimensional design with particular attention on spatial, communication and retail design.

Design students draw upon specific techniques

“Good retail visual and presentation is a skill,” said Smith. “Learning everything from prop building to designing a display in three dimensions of reality is a skill and a career.”

Smith emphasizes the importance of focus to help students better understand the objective of the project.

“[Advertisements] are there to draw your attention to their product,” said Smith. “The most important thing in that presentation is the focal point, which is the product.  We’re just trying to get them to think of ways of designing and building where everything they construct leads back to the focal point. They have to extend the story. They have to compliment or contrast it.”

“Things like scale, things like repetition, things like proportion, things like sense of humor,” he said. “These are all tricks of the trade for visual presentation.”

Parlaying design skills into a career

The design formation program opens up doors for students to enter a variety of fields. According to Smith, the program places students in exhibit and trade show design, curating for museums and exhibits, retail, merchandising and visual presentation and the special events industry.

Smith sees the program as an exciting option for anyone looking for something different.

“We’re happy to talk to anyone who would be interested in an alternative career.”

Reported by Jesse Adamson and Ben Bulmer

Press play to see photos of the three-dimensional corrugated cardboard projects, featuring audio from design student Regine Chan.

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