Conestoga news

November 14, 2012 4:03 PM

Students design for charity

The holiday season is any visual merchandisers' dream. Crowds of shoppers are exposed to hundreds of displays purposefully arranged to sell products and services. But for one group of Conestoga students, the holiday season presents another opportunity: to benefit St. Mary's General Hospital.

TreeDisplay.png Students in the Visual Merchandising Arts program, along with their instructor Lori Karpow, were approached by the organizing committee of Winter Wonderland to design an original tree for their first-ever charity event. The organizers explained the tree would be auctioned off with the proceeds benefitting St. Mary’s Hospital. Karpow jumped at the chance.

“As a teacher I believe in designing my curriculum to allow my students many ‘hands on’ opportunities to be involved with professionals in the community,” said Karpow, who also provides opportunities for students to do work placements at her Kitchener event planning business so they can gain valuable hands-on experience.

The tree design was based on the works of fashion designer Coco Chanel. While Karpow came up with the initial theme, the students were free to expand on that theme and take it in any direction.

Second-year student Dean Potter said that the students were purposeful in keeping the design ‘high fashion’ and attempted to ‘play off of some of Coco Chanel’s products’ such as her diamond bracelets and colour schemes.

“Once we had the general design, we decided to use a riser for the tree because Coco Chanel gives a grand feeling and we wanted to capture that,” said Potter. “I decided on black because it is based on the black dress that Coco Chanel was often seen in.” Potter has been involved in prop and set design for several years and hopes to use experiences like this one to build a career in the industry.

Karpow said she was touched by the time her students put into the project - both during class and on their own time. In the end, the tree sold for more than $400 to a gentleman who bought it as an anniversary gift for his wife.

Conestoga’s Visual Merchandising Arts program provides students with the opportunity to develop skills and knowledge for design and staging across all areas of merchandising. Although the primary focus is on retail operations and point of purchase displays, the program also includes visual merchandising for special events, trade shows, home fashion/real estate, and wedding planning.

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