Conestoga news

December 8, 2023 9:04 AM

Student display ushers in the holiday season in Downtown Kitchener

Second-year students from Conestoga’s Visual Merchandising Arts diploma program have installed a life-size Candyland-themed holiday display at the college’s Kitchener - Downtown campus as part of a partnership with the Downtown Kitchener Business Improvement Area.

Candyland at Conestoga.JPG
Visual Merchandising Arts students have installed a life-size Candyland-themed holiday display at the college’s Kitchener - Downtown campus.

A component of their Prop Production class, students worked throughout the term to draft plans and build and execute the display which includes a Candy Castle, Ice Cream Slopes, Lollipop Woods and Gumdrop Mountains. An accompanying app can be accessed at the display which allows visitors to fully experience what it’s like to be a game piece.

“This project turned out to be a remarkable journey that not only showcased our creative capabilities, but also honed our skills as future visual merchandisers,” said student Meghana Mohan Kumar. “The challenges we faced in conceptualizing, constructing, and presenting a captivating Candyland taught us invaluable lessons about attention to detail, teamwork, and problem solving.”

The project counts for 35 per cent of the course grade, with students being marked on the storytelling, sourcing, material, and functionality of their displays.

“The project's success not only bolstered our confidence, but also solidified our understanding of the visual merchandising process,” said Kumar. “It's an accomplishment that undoubtedly contributes significantly to our growth and readiness for the dynamic challenges in our future careers.”

The idea was conceived by Andrea Hein, coordinator, Creative Industries, who wanted to challenge her students using a $25,000 grant from the Downtown Kitchener Business Improvement Area (BIA).

“This really has been a great relationship,” says Hein. “The grant benefits the BIA by helping to make the downtown look more welcoming and driving foot traffic in the core, and it benefits Conestoga by providing us with resources that allow our students to experience hands-on learning through developing practical work that is noticed and enjoyed by the community.”

The relationship was first established when the Downtown campus opened in 2020. The BIA has provided grants to the program in exchange for student projects in the downtown core each fall. Last year, Hein’s students created 18 holiday-themed window displays for Downtown Kitchener businesses.

Admission is free to the Candyland display which is open to the public at Kitchener’s Market Square until early January from Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. It will be closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Day.

Students in Conestoga’s Visual Merchandising Arts program combine the art of window displays, prop making, graphic design, event planning, photo styling, and e-commerce with the science of floor planning, planogramming, branding and marketing, and entrepreneurship.

This two-year diploma program, currently delivered at the Kitchener - Doon campus, focuses on project-based, hands-on learning for the creative problem solver. A field placement opportunity is provided in the second year of the program to gain industry experience in the field of visual merchandising, as well as make new partnerships with industry members.