Condit Exhibits Design Team

Condit Collaborates with MSU Industrial Design Students

Condit Exhibits collaborated with Professor David Klein and his students enrolled in the industrial design program at Metropolitan State University for a project focused on real-world exhibit design.


About the Assignment

VP of Sales Jenny Koehn, Design Director Matt Wolf, and Senior Exhibit Designer Keita Usuda supervised two groups of students completing their final industrial design studio project in the fall/winter semester of 2023.

As the capstone project for the course, the prompt indicated students should, “Design a trade show exhibition space according to real-world criteria provided by Condit. The exhibition space should translate the company look, feel, and message into multiple dimensions. It should be strongly aesthetic, functional, experiential, and practical for implementation (build and install). Human interaction and traffic flow should be comfortable and intuitive.”


Engaging Students In An Exhibit Design Experience

Over the span of several weeks, Jenny, Matt, and Keita jointly provided a tour of Condit’s Denver facility, participated in iterative design feedback directly with students, and supported the grading of final project submissions according to the following objectives:

  • Identify and apply the standard methodologies used in communication design
  • Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of multiple possible design solutions in order to arrive at the single most appropriate for the assigned project/client
  • Create drawings depicting appropriate solutions to design problems


Design Criteria Based On Real-World Brand Needs

Design criteria, provided by the Condit, reflected realistic parameters and restrictions found on the show floor for actual projects and clients, including:

  • Fits on a 20′ x 20′ floor plan with a 16′ height limit for ground architecture, 20′ for hanging signs
  • Multi-view hand sketches of concept in perspective, second-generation refined drawing
  • Color rendering that emphasizes the unique form/character, in context (human scale)
  • AI-accepted
  • Floor plan and front (entry) view
  • Verbal and visual presentation of complete design effort

Students could model from existing Condit clients or choose another brand or business to represent in their exhibit. They were assessed based on the quality of their preliminary sketches, the meeting of functional goals, the clarity of brand expression/identity, and the final renderings with revisions and feedback incorporated. Students “pitched” their designs to the Condit panel as they might to a client’s chief marketing manager or other event management staff.

Professor Klein said of the opportunity, “Real-world projects are the best! The students get excited about them, they have a richer experience, and they get a better idea of what it is like to work as a professional designer. Condit invited two classes of studio courses from the MSU Denver Industrial Department and provided an engaging presentation, including a case study on their design and building process. After that, we took a tour of the facilities, let the students roam around and talk to designers in the studio and met for a recap to look at some previous project concept deliverables. I look forward to a longer project with Condit in 2024!”


The Results

The partnership between Condit and MSU was a tremendous success! Students gained real-world exhibit design experience while completing their industrial design coursework, while Condit received a glimpse of future design leaders and the opportunity to collaborate with them.

“I was impressed by the quality of their work – the consideration of the project parameters, the thoughtfulness of the brand expressions and the inventiveness of the 3D output. They brought the energy and enthusiasm and reminded me why I love the business,” said Jenny.


Shaping the Future of Exhibit Design

Condit is proud to support local schools and universities, especially students interested in our fields of expertise. In tandem with MSU’s state-of-the-art facilities design studios, workshops, and laboratories Condit was able to provide real-world experience and feedback, helping students bridge the gap between academia and the professional design world. To date, Condit has employed many MSU alumni in the design department and beyond.

Jenny said of the collaboration, “It was such a pleasure to share insights about the exhibit industry and provide inspiration to the MSU students!  As we continue to combat an aging workforce, it’s incredibly important to devote time and effort to developing future talent.  The exhibit industry is niche and requires a specific skill set that is often overlooked in higher education.  By partnering with the industrial design department at MSU, Condit is fostering a pipeline of new designers and detailers that are eager to find a career path.  We intend to continue the program for years to come!”

And MSU students brought their own techniques and insights to the table, working alongside the Condit team to test the capabilities and limits of artificial intelligence and to foster a dialogue about its use in the industry.

Keita remarked, “The most eye-opening takeaway for me was the use of AI as a part of the creative process for design development and how it was encouraged as a way to explore different aspects of design.  Using the verbal and imagery prompts, students were able to generate renderings as either inspirational launching points or as finalized product visualizations.  It will be interesting and exciting to see how AI can influence and change the creative process as it evolves. The future is here and now.”


About MSU and the Department of Industrial Design

Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU Denver) is a prominent public institution renowned for its commitment to providing accessible and quality higher education. Established in 1965, the university has grown to become a vital part of Denver’s educational landscape. Nestled in the heart of downtown Denver, MSU Denver boasts a dynamic urban campus that enhances students’ learning experiences by immersing them in the vibrant city environment.

The university offers a diverse array of undergraduate and graduate programs spanning disciplines such as business, arts and sciences, education, health and human services, and professional studies. MSU Denver takes pride in its inclusive and diverse student body, fostering a supportive community that embraces individuals from various backgrounds and cultures. With a focus on practical and hands-on learning, the university equips its students with the skills and knowledge needed to excel in their chosen fields.

The Department of Industrial Design provides a comprehensive curriculum with course offerings that include focus on textiles, bicycle design, furniture design, and prototyping in metals, woods, and plastics. Students actively participate in hands-on lab projects and cooperate with industry professionals for practical experience, just like this one with Condit.


Future Cohorts

Condit continues to collaborate with MSU industrial design students, most recently in the Spring of 2024. For this project, students worked in teams of two to select a brand, iterate their design, and produce a 3D model under the supervision of Condit designers and sales professionals. This assignment included an updated requirement beyond the above: to create a scale model of the exhibit. Techniques included 3D printing, sewing, laser cutting/etching, screen printing, etc. to accomplish the task.


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