Not too long ago we were thinking about how all our computers were going to crash at the stroke of midnight as the year 1999 turned into 2000. It’s been 15 years since that uneventful milestone and I say, “Wow, where did all the time go?” Hopefully since then, we’ve all grown more mature and experienced and wise in accompaniment to the additional toll these years have put on our body and mind. And as I grow older, I reflect upon my career in exhibit design and am sometimes shocked to meet young people almost half my age entering the workforce. How did I get to this age, and why are these “kids” so young? Meeting them and working with them begs the question, “what can I offer this next generation of exhibit professionals?”
MG Design understands its place in the industry and realizes that helping educate the next generation of exhibit design professionals is not only a smart business opportunity, but an industry responsibility. Through our Mike Grivas Senior Exhibit Design Excellence Scholarships, we strive to give back to the educational community with monetary awards to help deserving students pursue continued excellence in their exhibit design education. We truly value the interactions we have with the design programs at both Bemidji State University in Minnesota and also at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.
In January, I had the privilege of being invited to New York City to conduct a one-day workshop with this year’s students in the FIT Graduate Exhibition Design Program. As this group of students was about to commence their lengthy last semester thesis project, program chair, Brenda Cowen, asked if I could lead a one-day design/sketch workshop in order to give the students some real-world advice on generating quick ideas and communicating those ideas in a concise logical manner. Brenda looked at this exercise as a fun “cleansing of the palate” diversion for the students as they transition from inventing their thesis topic to going all-in with research, development, and the concepting of their thesis design solution.
For this exercise, students had two tools…old school pen and paper. My goal was to brief them on a project, give them two hours for concepting, and then 5 minutes to present their initial raw creative to the class. A wide variety of ideas were generated and presented and the students seemed to really dig into the project. Overall my point of emphasis was that being able to quickly generate ideas is paramount in our industry where time compression has become the norm. New project opportunities parachute in with regularity and sometimes have a very quick turnaround time, so being able to absorb project info and quickly respond with ideas is critical to our client’s success. And the designer’s ability to think-on-the-fly by sketching during a presentation, in response to our client’s critical feedback, can help overcome a design objection or provide a moment of design clarity.
The FIT program is in great hands with Brenda and I believe I have found a fan in her: “Rob took New York by storm! Ideas flowed, students laughed, great design work was created and a wonderful new relationship was built! Rob will be back (whether he wants to or not!) and we can’t thank him enough.”
This was a highly enjoyable experience for me. A college campus setting has a vibrant energetic vibe that I love. Helping train the next generation of exhibit professionals, or at least give them a peek behind the curtain on our industry, is a privilege that I hope recurs for me in the future. I’m grateful for the opportunity to connect with Exhibit Design: The Next Generation!
Rob Majerowski is the vice president of creative at MG Design.