My 2010 graduating class of the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design program developed the Barbie Play with Fashion exhibition as part of a design competition to create fashions, interior designs, jewelry, photos, films, and visual displays for Barbie and Ken. The partnership with Mattel Inc. was also aimed at reinvigorating the Barbie brand to reflect greater fashion and design sophistication in the toy's audience. Finalists in the competition developed their designs into a two-story, multimedia exhibition held in the lobby of FIT’s Fred P. Pomerantz Art and Design Center in Chelsea, NYC.
The 600-square-foot exhibition was in place for four months and attracted more than 10,000 unique visitors. Our class developed the design for the exhibition through a rigorous process beginning with analysis of design, market, and brand trends and small-group exploration of various design concepts. From these concepts, a group strategy was developed and we took on responsibility for graphic identity, object display, digital media, wayfinding, and interpretive elements.
Sponsoring fabricators, material suppliers, and printers educated us on construction techniques incorporated into the exhibition. The exhibition project was a successful balance of student exploration and design, multidisciplinary collaboration, and the fostering of showmanship meant to bring the excitement of the runway and New York’s Fashion Week to a diverse audience. The exhibition also deftly shows how designers are influenced by both the confluence of play and mass fashion culture.
As part of our curriculum, our class also organized and design an event for the launch of the exhibition.