VIU Graphic Design students create Earth Day window displays | Vancouver Island University

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VIU Graphic Design students are working with businesses in the Old City Quarter to create window displays to celebrate Earth Day. The window displays showcase the businesses’ sustainable products and are made from eco-friendly or recycled materials.

Earth Day is April 22 and this year’s theme is Planet Vs Plastics, which advocates for the phase-out of all single-use plastics and a 60 per cent reduction in the production of all plastics by 2040.

“A lot of the businesses we’re working with have an eco-conscious approach,” says Melissa Watt, who is working on a window display as part of a team for Sartorial Boutique.  “Our program addresses sustainability and how designers can raise awareness and influence big-scale habits and choices within society.

She says in previous classes they dove into the lifecycle of everything involved in a design process including where the power comes from for their computers.

“There are so many aspects to be environmentally aware and conscious of for a world experiencing climate trouble,” says Melissa. “It’s sometimes overwhelming but it is also exciting to identify all the different areas you can make a difference in and how our work, not just the product, but the process, can contribute to sustainability.”

While the art project teaches students about sustainability and eco-conscious design choices it’s also giving them valuable work experience. For this project, they are working as part of a team with a client instead of as an individual designer.

“It’s a good experience on how to work with a client,” says Nancy Pagé, a VIU Graphic Design Professor. “Our students are keen on doing work that has some kind of ethical perspective and I’ve heard them say they’re so happy to be helping someone in the community.”

The window displays are up until shortly after Earth Day. The project includes six businesses from the Old City Quarter and the VIU Campus Store. The student teams each had $200 to create the displays, which included funding from the Old City Quarter Association, the businesses and the Graphic Design department. 

The Old City Quarter businesses involved in the project include:

  • Kitties & Cream
  • White Rabbit Coffee Co.
  • Vancouver Island Refillery
  • Elite Image Design & Print
  • Sartorial Boutique
  • Roden & Associates, and
  • The VIU Campus Store

“This project was executed very well! Nancy and her students were incredible to work with and I’m impressed with the end results,” says Kelly Whiteside, Owner of Kitties & Cream. “Reactions from our customers and people walking by have been positive so far, too. I hope to see similar initiatives in the future!”

Kiara White, a fourth-year Graphic Design student, is responsible for the creation of the logo for The Display Project. In addition to her logo design, Kiara manages the project’s Instagram account. Kiara also heads this project as part of her directed study, under the guidance of her instructor, to earn elective credit. 

“Her diverse contributions highlight her dedication and expertise as an up-and-coming designer,” says Nancy.


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