On the evening of June 5, 2023, a small crowd gathered to celebrate the opening of a retail space on Walla Walla University's College Place campus that students of Environment Design had designed and built. The ribbon cutting ceremony for the Well-Designed Goods store was the cumulation of months of work and many lessons learned.
“In the design industry, our graduates may find themselves working on storefronts, museum exhibitions, product displays, or art installations,” said Logan Seibold, product design instructor. “Our annual Environment Design project is meant to give students some experience in a large-scale project similar to what they might tackle in their careers.”
Students and alumni alike were given the opportunity to participate in the project by creating items to be sold in the shop. Thirteen people produced nearly 20 types of products, ranging from rock climbing chalk bags and cat hammocks to hand-made ceramics and wooden calendars. The variety in merchandise required Environment Design students to shape the retail space around the product offerings.
“Product design is at the intersection of art, engineering, and psychology,” said Seibold. During this project, students collaborated as a group to understand what customers need and how they interact with items in a retail space. Then they worked to create beautiful and useful solutions that meet those needs.
In order to create a professional store environment, students worked with a variety of materials and processes. The product design program at WWU is intentional about giving students experience with a variety of skills taught in woodworking classes, welding labs, sketching studios, and CNC and 3D printing courses.
With only 10 weeks to design, build, and outfit a store, the students were challenged to meet their deadline. Despite the time crunch, Seibold defines the project as a success. “People seemed to be impressed by how professional the store layout and furnishings were. Our goal was to make it feel like a real storefront, and I think the students succeeded there,” he said.
Seibold added that the department intends to keep Well-Designed Goods open for several days a quarter and on request to continue to allow students and others to sell their products.
Posted July 26, 2023.