When Wichita State University’s graphic design students conceptualized the theme of adaptability for their senior show, they had no idea how much they’d need to embrace that notion.
“Every year at the end of the year, seniors have a show,” said Irma Puskarevic, visiting professor of graphic design. This year’s show was scheduled to display in WSU’s ShiftSpace Gallery, but the COVID-19 pandemic changed all that: “This year they had to do it online.”
The result: Design Zoo, where for at least 30 minutes, the 21 artists of Design Zoo will be live and streaming to talk and interact with the audience about their work, “as if they would if this were a real gallery,” Puskarevic said.
Design Zoo will be presented online at 6 p.m. Friday, May 1, on the group’s Facebook and Instagram pages.
“We didn't want to just have a website and post their work that they would have shown in the ShiftSpace Gallery,” Puskarevic explained. “We wanted it to be a little bit bigger. They’re doing marketing and promotion for this show. They're building this big visual identity for the whole show.”
This year’s concept of Design Zoo draws parallels between animals and designers.
“Animals have to kind of adapt to their natural habitats to survive, and creatives and designers have to also adapt to their design environments in order to thrive,” Puskarevic said.
And the students have truly adapted to the times.
Kanissorn “Fix” Nimcharoenwan, a senior in graphic design and Design Zoo artist, developed a smart phone app as his contribution to the show.
“The application targets people who are interested to start weightlifting or weightlifters who are interested in tracking their progresses and learning new exercises,” said Fix. “My main focus on the application is usability, simplicity of navigation and the flow of the application user interface to fit the audience’s lifestyle.”
The Design Zoo concept was a theme they developed at the beginning of the semester – before COVID-19 and social distancing became a part of our national culture, Puskarevic said.
“It would have been executed differently if it was in a physical form,” she said.
But Puskarevic also sees this as an opportunity for her students.
“They had to learn a lot of new things a lot of new skills,” she said. “They had to learn to collaborate. The whole group literally is working with this one project, which is not something that they generally do. Everybody usually works for themselves or maybe in groups of three on a single project, but now they're working as one big organization.”
Fix said he sees the online exhibit as a chance to distinguish themselves from past senior exhibits.
“It is good life and work experience for many of us,” he said. “It teaches each of us the importance of responsibility and time management. Communication and teamwork are really important in the online working environment, and from doing this I feel that we have learned something valuable that not everyone get to experience.”