Seven exhibition and experience designs from Fashion Institute of Technology graduates

Seven exhibition and experience designs from FIT students

A community project in Venezuela and an adult playground are among the experiential concepts envisioned by seven students from New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in this Virtual Design Festival schools exhibition of graduate work.

The projects represent the students’ final thesis work from the MA Exhibition and Experience Design course at FIT, which is part of the State University of New York (SUNY).

The multidisciplinary course, taught by a group of professors including Christina Lyons and Brenda Cowan, focuses on exhibition design as a form of storytelling.

MA Exhibition and Experience Design, Fashion Institute of Technology

University: Fashion Institute of Technology, SUNY
Course: MA Exhibition and Experience Design
Tutors: Christina Lyons, Brenda Cowan, Hannah Rawe and Jorge Martinez

Course statement:

“The Master of Arts in Exhibition and Experience Design at FIT in New York City is a forum for collaboration and cross-disciplinary design experimentation that engages students in state of the art media and real-world projects.

“Built upon a foundation of field and studio work, critical research, and thesis construction, the MA programme incorporates conceptual thinking and creative ideation from a wide array of design disciplines.

“Students gain technical mastery in spatial design, experiential graphics, lighting, multimedia and production, as well as the ability to work and thrive with a diverse team.

“Underpinning the programme’s placement record through its ties to the industry is a commitment to the idea that exhibitions are experiences filled with meaning – created for and by visitors. And that to be an exhibition and experience designer is to be a storyteller.

“The Master of Arts program culminates in an independent thesis project – a final design and academic qualifying paper.”

Seven exhibition and experience designs from FIT students

Living Constellation by Anvita Trivedi

“Living Constellation is a one-of-a-kind exhibition that envisions a partnership between UNESCO and National Geographic. It takes visitors on a path of discovering world heritage sites through a travelogue designed as a multi-level, stadium-sized environmental spectacular. This exhibition proposal is located at the forthcoming msg sphere in Las Vegas.

“Via a journey that is both personal and collective, visitors will learn about the awe-inspiring living catalogue of UNESCO’s natural and cultural heritage environments – what makes them unique and how they can be preserved.

“This project aims to define the power of collective environments, and how an immersive experience can create and foster effective moments of unification and a sense of awe.”

Anvita Trivedi

STARBLOCKS: a Starbucks Branding Initiative by Chang Lee

“Starblocks is a Starbucks branded project dedicated to rejuvenating underserved urban cultural communities. Within one city blocks, senior adults from East Harlem co-create programmes and learning experiences that engage neighbourhood residents in sharing their histories, cultures and expertise to inspire and inform regional and international visitors.

“The goal is for local residents and visitors to form connections with the seniors, see their inherent value and qualities, and transform the street into a permanent gathering space for the community.

“By applying the Starblocks framework to other neighbourhoods, the Starbucks brand can achieve a level of authenticity currently lacking in its business model and establish itself as a champion of local communities and consumers.”

Chang Lee


Seven exhibition and experience designs from FIT students

The Voice of Souls by Heeji Min

“Fashion is a creative and artistic forum for designers to express their ideas, thoughts, and emotions. But fashion exhibitions are stereotypically curated by luxury brands and viewed as just another form of marketing.

“The Voice of Souls exhibition immerses visitors in the intimate moments when fashion designers are crafting their haute couture collections, as narrated by their own voices. As visitors gain a deeper appreciation for the craftsmanship and design process, they come to see how the traditional construction of haute couture pieces is an art, which influences modern fashion.

“This project also explores ways of motivating the public to attend fashion exhibitions in the future and uncovers experiential approaches to curating them.”

Heeji Min

Roots by Janine Cohen 

“This exhibition serves as a public heritage and civic hub that raises awareness and builds a path to a brighter and better future for Venezuela.

“The purpose is to show how a brand like Laser Airlines can rebrand and create a connection with its customers by restoring the National Botanical Garden and showcasing the beauty and culture of Venezuela to the world. Through this branded experience, people will empathize with the country and its current crisis, and find the means for fostering deeper civic engagement.”

“The rectangular construction of the installation represents a base or home, with intertwining paths created around it. Venezuela is my home and my path has always led me back there. This project truly reflects the power of exhibitions to create a social impact.”

Janine Cohen 

esc by May Ghadanfar

“esc is an immersive experience in New York City, where visitors can find physical and mental relief from their surrounding urban stressors.

“Through the implementation of multisensory and biophilic design, visitors can freely explore this hidden and unexpected environment at their own pace and following their curiosity. This artificial yet natural environment reinforces ideas of mindfulness and enables visitors to engage on their own terms – a critical and often overlooked factor at the core of exhibition and experience design.

“Natural elements such as water, air, plants, lights and rocks provide visitors with interactive areas that allow for a restorative, rejuvenating and self-reflective experience, ultimately perpetuating a momentary break from their hectic lifestyle.”

May Ghadanfar

#belonghere by Tina Columbus

“#belonghere is a city block transformed into a personalized urban walkthrough, which encourages participants to observe their surroundings, empathize with different characters and reflect upon their daily lives.

“The pop-up campaign combines experience design with theatrical practices and techniques to infuse moments of urban mindfulness into the routine of stressed New Yorkers.

Game design elements attract passersby and allow multiple levels of engagement, both analogue and digital. Meet the Neighbors you didn’t know you have. Discover the Neighborhood you didn’t see at first. #belonghere.


PLAYin: a LinkedIn Grown-Up Play Experience by Tracy Llewellyn

“This pop-up play environment includes 11 different individual and collaborative playscapes, intended to encourage adults to reignite their innate need for physical play.

“As a proposed extension of LinkedIn’s rebranding strategy – meant to convey a sense of warmth, inclusivity, and community – this exhibition experience enables adults to rediscover that play allows them to foster and build connections with others and with themselves.

“Additionally, PLAYin gives adults an understanding that physical play cultivates a sense of wellness through its ability to recharge and create vitality within the mind and body, which further produces a sense of happiness, balance, and rejuvenation.”

Tracy Llewellyn

Virtual Design Festival’s student and schools initiative offers a simple and affordable platform for student and graduate groups to present their work during the coronavirus pandemic. Click here for more details.

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