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Fashion and Retail Studies students design ‘Wonderful Windows’

Janet Kiplinger Ciccone
December 04, 2018

A swirl of coffee, cut from shades of brown paper, pours from a huge paper cup in an Old Worthington store window. Gingerbread people holding ice cream cones coast down the coffee cascade, which spills into another store window.

If you like coffee, the window suggests, visit the Highline Coffee Co. The ice cream cones suggest that you should visit the Graeter's ice cream shop across the street, blending the two brands in a whimsical display.

The college’s fashion and retail studies students collaborated with Ohio State design and interior design students autumn semester to create and install this holiday window display, plus 25 more in Old Worthington, Ohio.

Their real-world experience came courtesy of the annual “Wonderful Windows” contest, organized by the Old Worthington Partnership. The windows are on display on High Street in Old Worthington just south of State Route 161 through Dec. 31.

“Being a team leader in this class has strongly developed my leadership skills,” said Taylor Burke Melaragno, a junior in fashion and retail studies. “It involved a heavy amount of group communication and making important decisions for the team, as well as communicating often with business owners. I have so many great thoughts about this class, I can’t wait to be an advisor for students taking it next year.”

Faith Huddleston Bartrug, '01 BS, (center) met with the Fashion and Retail Studies program to bring the Wonderful Windows contest to students. Also pictured: Jenny Fuerst, Wonderful Windows project volunteer (left), and Nina Parini, executive director of the Old Worthington Partnership.

Collaborating to create excitement

Faith Huddleston Bartrug, ‘01 BS, launched the real-world opportunity for students at her alma mater when the Old Worthington Partnership asked her to reimagine this year’s contest.

A resident of Worthington, Bartrug lends her advice to the nonprofit as creative director over the project. She is senior associate vice president of the global retail design firm CallisonRTKL.

Bartrug immediately approached Joyce Brooks, senior lecturer and director of the College of Education and Human Ecology’s Fashion and Retail Studies Advisory Board.

Brooks loved the idea and partnered with Rebekah Matheny, assistant professor of design in the College of Arts and Sciences, to create the first collaborative course between the two programs.

The trio worked with the 23 students who hurried to sign up for the semester-long, three-credit hour, independent study course. The students recognized the unusual chance to work with businesses and professionals in different areas.

  • woman in Santa hat stands in front of a candle store window display she designed
  • Five female students stand smiling for a picture.
  • Man stands next to storefront window he and his team designed.
  • Student stands in front of coffee shop window.
  • Christmas decorations displayed in a Jet's Pizza window

Four student teams designed and installed six to eight store windows each. To get double exposure, each business was paired with another on the opposite side of the street. Bartrug asked the students to spread holiday cheer through the theme "Sharing the Love.” Every window displayed the business’ products or services with a nod to the paired business.

“I wanted the students to show how retailers can meet their generation’s expectations, even if it starts small, with window displays sharing the spotlight,” Bartrug said in a blog she wrote for Visual Merchandising and Store Design magazine. “I wanted to challenge the students to cross-merchandise retailers, showing how they can all work together and use the holiday season to unite otherwise competitors.”

Overall, the students enjoyed “sharing the love.”


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