Students Design Key Part of ISU Farm Progress Show Display

Students Design Key Part of ISU Farm Progress Show Display

Five ISU College of Design students spent spring semester designing the 2010 Farm Progress Show exhibit for the university.

The design group members built a scale model of the ISU Farm Progress Show building to help visualize the final concept and layout of the exhibit.

Chalkboard plans and scale models will give way to a 10-foot cube of soil and a wall of water bottles at Iowa State University's Farm Progress Show 2010 exhibit. The exhibit will be a new and unique approach for Iowa State and ISU Extension to the show that will take place Aug. 31 to Sept. 2 at Boone, Iowa. You can follow ISU Extension on Facebook for more updates on the 2010 Farm Progress Show exhibit and activities during the show.

Previous Farm Progress Show exhibits have featured a wide assortment of displays inside the ISU hoop building, united by Iowa State colors, but disjointed in terms of educational content. This year, the 120-foot-by-50-foot building features one big exhibit with the central theme, "Working together to care for our land."

Students' design and exhibit will be visited by thousands

Design Team
The vision for the exhibit comes from a group of ISU College of Design students who worked on the project during the spring 2010 semester. Working on a design intended to become an actual display was an excellent opportunity for the five students to go beyond the usual classroom work and take their ideas from concept to reality, as well as experience a partnership with other departments on campus. The students' design will be showcased to thousands of show attendees  -  from local to international  -  during the 2010 Farm Progress Show.

"I loved the idea of being involved in a project that was so close to home and so important to Iowa," says Kristin Mason, graduating senior in architecture. "It was definitely a good learning experience. Being able to work with faculty and ISU Extension gave us a whole new light on how to perceive our designs and how we can change them for the better."

Team approach has resulted in a great learning experience

The students were part of a design studio charged with creating the exhibit. Their job, beginning in January and lasting all semester, was to take the planning committee's input and educational messages and start from scratch to create an engaging and interesting display for visitors. John Lawrence, ISU Extension to Agriculture and Natural Resources director, and Kendall Lamkey, Iowa State department of agronomy chair, co-chaired the committee that guided the students with educational content for the exhibit and approved their concepts.

The students knew the theme, venue and audience for the exhibit. But for several students, learning about ag and Iowa soil specifically was a new experience that became part of their learning process. "It changed my perspective on Iowa and its agriculture," says Mike Garcia, grad student in architecture. "I didn't grow up on a farm, so dealing with a new culture has been a great experience."

Mason and Garcia were joined in the group by Ben Holst, graduate student in architecture, Beverly Krumm, graduate student in graphic design, and Anna Linn, graduating senior in architecture. All five worked together on everything from concepts and computer-drafted designs, to scale and life-size models of the booth and components. "It's fun to work in a group; you get group dynamics," Krumm says of her experience being the only graphic designer working with architects. "In the real world, you're always mixing with different groups."

From concept to reality - it required an entire semester

The team was often found tucked into room 303 of the ISU College of Design building, materials and concepts scattered about as they worked to turn each team member's ideas into real, constructible elements of the Iowa State display. The design group met several days a week, sometimes until the early hours of the morning. A large chalkboard listed all their tasks and computer printouts and models helped them visualize the project.

"There were definitely some hard times trying to figure out the best design and concept for the exhibit," Mason says. "It was difficult to try to make the whole experience a cohesive one; going from outside to inside to outside again. We wanted people to move throughout the exhibits easily and freely but also understand that everything coincides with each other."

As concepts were developed, the team would try to find materials and build a model to test their ideas. If something didn't work or look how they wanted it to, they would move on to the next concept until they found the right fit. In addition to tying together all the educational elements of the booth, the design process included stepping out of the normal ideas of permanency.

It's challenging to design a display that's meant to be temporary

One of the challenges was designing a display that was meant to be temporary, versus lasting for years, as classroom work typically focuses on the longevity of designs. But, the group was up to the challenge and shopped around for appropriate materials and other resources that would fit their design and budget.

While the design studio group was advised by College of Design faculty, they also had to meet with the show committee  -  comprised of faculty and staff from ISU Extension and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences  -  to present, review and approve concepts and designs throughout the process. "The experience communicating design ideas with people from different backgrounds is valuable, especially those who influence the project," says Linn. "It's fun to take a client's ideas and goals and find a way to turn them into reality!"

Seeing it through to the end - project continues to move forward

At the end of the semester, the group delivered several pieces, including a scale model and construction drawings, so that a build group could assemble the elements this summer. "This collaboration within Iowa State is something I'd encourage and getting out of the design building expands my knowledge," Garcia says. "I think it's important to get exposure to other areas of study."

Although the spring semester is over, and design studio officially done, work on the project continues to move forward at a steady pace. Krumm has stayed on the project by working with ISU Extension part-time this summer. Garcia has also stayed involved, lending his knowledge of the design to the build team as they construct each portion of the exhibit.

Team members are eager to see the project in its finished state and plan to visit the booth at the show to see their concepts and ideas brought to life. "It's exciting because you get to see the process come full circle," Garcia says. "It's gratifying to know the lines on the paper you draw will eventually mean something."

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