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design for interactive experiences.

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Exhibit Design

Googleween – Spaceship fabric structure for DPEM

DPEM in San Francisco hired me to design and build this 30′ fabric structure for a Halloween party that went on last week at Google. The Flying saucer was required as a location for an space-alien-themed “haunted house.”


I started with some sketches to make sure that DPEM and I were on the same page for the basic layout and appearance of the tent.


Sketchy Renderings

After receiving feedback, I created some more finished images with Sketchup and Photoshop to better describe the Flying Saucer to DPEM and Google.



Then I used Vectorworks and Illustrator to start working out construction details of the structure so that I would know how it would be built, and the materials that I needed to gather.


Construction Planning

I used the measurements from my drafts and 3D modeling to figure out some patterns for the fabric covering (Commando Cloth inner layer to block the light with a shiny silver Tulle Tex outer layer. The dome is a blue Tendo fabric.)


Site Setup

Along with invaluable help from Gabriel Colaluca, it took me until almost 2am to finish setting up the flying saucer on the Google campus.



…and here is the finished product! A 30′ flying saucer, with sod added around the edge to make it appear as if it had crashed to earth. I also created the “Area 51” banner.

Museum Camp – Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History

This July 10th-12th I took part in the “Museum Camp” event at the Santa Cruz MAH.

This was an event where about a dozen teams of museum professionals teamed up to create an exhibit around a seldom-displayed object in the museum’s collection – all over the course of three days. I was Teamed up with Adrienne Lalli Hills & Elizabeth Spavento, and we were assigned the sceptre from the Miss California Pageant, which was staged in Santa Cruz until 1985.

We learned quite a bit about the history of the pageant in the short amount of time that we had for research, and then assembled a prototype of out exhibit to test with input from some of the other Museum Campers.


Prototype Testing

Afterward, we worked late into the night and refined the exhibit, then assembled the final version over the next day – it was nice to work on a project that went from beginning to end so quickly!


Finished Exhibit

Meat Racks – 2013 SF Chefs Event

I designed and built a set of three racks to hold various meats for the 2013 SF Chefs event – everything from deer to fish. I designed these with some nice artificial grass on the bases so that they wouldn’t be unsightly pools of meat juice. Also, I learned that no stores in the Bay Area stock meat hooks.

Playground concept sketches – Frolic Playspace

Frolic in Brooklyn, NY. asked me to sketch out some quick ideas for a redesign that they were considering – here are a few of my super-fast ideas.

Perforated Pedestals – Kikkerland – ICFF

For this year’s ICFF show, I made some new pedestals for Kikkerland so that they could be used with the long lighted counters that I had built the previous year. It was an interesting challenge to plan my cuts so that all of the perforated holes in the masonite surface would align on all of the pedestals’ surfaces.

Mechanical Cupcake Dispenser for Jet Blue

I was called in to make a mechanized cupcake dispenser over a weekend for Jet Blue, to be set up in their JFK terminal. This was a challenging project because I needed to design a mechanism that would feed out the small plastic balls without accidentally crushing them. Also, the cupcake was not centered in the plastic ball, so  the various ramps and feeding mechanisms needed to be angled so that they would overcome the plastic ball’s tendency to come to a rest instead of rolling, with the heaviest end of the ball weighing the ball down.

I ended up solving the problem of the balls jamming in the machine by adding an agitator made out of sections of a retractable measuring tape – the spring steel would clear up jams without crushing the cupcake balls to bits!

Padded Columns for L’Oréal

I made these padded columns for a L’Oréal event so that they would fit around existing columns at the event site. Jessie Voris and I worked together on the upholstery – there were 200 buttons to sew!

Fermilab Visitor Center

For my thesis project at FIT, I designed a visitor center for the Fermilab National Accelerator Laboratory.

When I started this project, Fermilab had recently decommissioned their Tevatron experiment and they were considering opening the giant ring accelerator to tours, which would help to show the importance of particle physics to the general public. My project was divided the exhibit into three segments:

Fermilab’s Future: answering questions about why particle physics is studied by showing applications in medical imaging, aeronautics, communication, data storage, etc.

Frontier Introduction: a brief intro that gives visitors a sense of the minute scale of the particles and forces that are being studied, and an explanation of the three different frontiers of study (Energy, Intensity, Cosmic.)

Physics Frontiers: presenting interactive examples of Fermilab’s experiments – showing how teamwork is involved in making new discoveries in particle physics.

BayWa ZLF Trade Show – Demonstration Walls

BayWa requested a display that would demonstrate some of the money-saving qualities of their building materials. I worked in Illustrator to design multiple graphic layout concepts, and then Vectorworks to further refine details of the designs. Max Schmidt Von Braun was in charge of this project, and the final three images show the finished result set up at the trade show.

BayWa ZLF Trade Show – Tractor Unveiling

A new model of tractor was scheduled to be introduced by BayWa at this year’s ZLF trade show, and I worked on some initial concepts for the placeholder to stand in the new tractor’s spot until the new tractor arrived on site, sketch ideas for how the curtain could be pulled away from the tractor, design and render more finished images, and assemble presentation slides to be shown to the client – complete with fog machine!

BayWa ZLF Trade Show – Gift Shop

At Heilmaier Messedesign, I used Vectorworks to plan out shelving for the gift shop at BayWa’s exhibit at the ZLF agricultural trade show. I also used Photoshop to add details to these early renderings. The final image is of the exterior of the main BayWa trade show structure, which contained the gift shop.

BayWa ZLF Trade Show – Rotating Columns

I worked with Max Pollner on the design, modeling, and graphics of two columns of rectangular forms that visitors could rotate to create different combinations. The first two images are my Vectorworks renderings, and the third image is a later, more finished rendering by another designer.

Heilmaier Messedesign – 3D Modeling & Graphics

I worked on some graphics for Kennemetal’s parking signs, 3D modeling for a cow milking machine, and planning for the stripe graphics at the BayWa exhibit at this year’s ZLF agricultural trade show in Munich.

Exhibit City News

Larry Kulchawik penned this nice article about some of the FIT internships, including mine at Heilmaier Messedesign. Click on the link below to check it out.

Students get a jump start in the exhibit industry

Heilmaier Messedesign Internship

This summer I worked as an intern at the Exhibit Design firm Heilmaier Messedesign in Munich, Germany as the final step to complete my Exhibit Design degree at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

I wasn’t expecting my work to find its way into the hands of clients so quickly, but I found myself in the middle of a very busy time at Heilmaier – they were preparing for an agricultural trade show taking place alongside Oktoberfest – so deadlines were fast approaching. As soon as I finished some of my designs – whoosh! They were assembled into presentations and shown to the client. It felt nice to know that I was producing something that was useful to the company. I think that was my biggest surprise – realizing that FIT had taught me skills that were truly valuable!

After working individually on many of my projects at FIT, it was nice to be working as part of a team at Heilmaier – it gave me a chance to meet the designers and learn from them more about working in Exhibit Design.

Rainbow Lamp – Brooklyn Childrens’ Museum

I designed this lamp for a weather-themed lighting scheme for a FIT project set in the Brooklyn Childrens’ Museum. The idea of the lighting scheme is that lighting would be used to show weather changes – projectors would show animated clouds, and lightning would be simulated with strobe lights, among other effects. After the thunder and lightning passed through the space, this rainbow lamp would light up as sunlight returned to the space. The rainbow effect is created by shining light through a spectrum-gradient printed transparency, which lights acrylic rods. The rods are cut to different lengths so that different colors appear as bands at different heights.


Earthbound Farm – Trade Show Exhibit

Earthbound farm is a giant grower of organic foods, so for this FIT exhibit design project, I created a display with a giant display that is part farm tractor, part tractor trailer, and part shopping cart, to emphasize the connections between the farm, shipping, and the grocery store. The various displays also emphasize connections – between the grocers attending the conference and between the company and the grocers.

Rubin Museum of Art

I was part of a group of FIT students to redesign the lobby and second floor gallery at the Rubin Museum of Himalayan Art. One of the big challenges was that the Introduction to Himalayan Art exhibit on the second floor has two different entrances, each with two ways to start going through the exhibit. My plan was to create dividers to lead visitors through the content in the proper sequence.

Kikkerland Trade Show Counters

I fabricated these two counters for Kikkerland’s 2012 trade shows. They both have lightbox faces made out of acrylic covered with adhesive vinyl. The client wanted the acrylic to go all the way to the edge of the counter, so the plastic was applied before the laminate, and then the laminate was applied over the edge. One of the counters has a top design to hold a computer. I built these counters for Abunch LLC.

Brooklyn Cyclones Signage Project

I designed some signage for the Brooklyn Cyclones’ stadium on Coney Island. It was fun to do some research into the color schemes of New York baseball and Coney Island, plus I got to eat a candy apple every time I went to the stadium for a presentation!

My concept was based on a combination of the boardwalk signs filled with hundreds of lightbulbs, and the directional-looking baseball souvenir pennants.


I designed this exhibit as a pop-up marketplace to be located on the site of the demolished Thunderbolt rollercoaster on Coney Island. It takes the shape of a giant squid attacking the mainland!

Bread Clip Lamp

This lamp was made for a “found object” lamp project. The base is made from some oak that I found on the street, and the stem is the plastic part of a dried-out marker. I needed to get the bread clips through mail order, since I couldn’t eat so much bread!

Funnel Cake Exhibit!

Hello everyone!

I’ve been studying since this summer at F.I.T. in New York in the Exhibition design graduate program. Our first project was to design an exhibit centered around our favorite food. …I don’t really have a favorite, so I chose Funnel Cake – that sloppy mess of fried dough and confectioner’s sugar that is served at fairs and amusement parks in the summertime.

My design features doughy walls, a funnel-shaped slide that lands in fake sizzling oil, and walls that need to be ripped apart (just like a funnel cake needs to be ripped apart!)

I’m posting my presentation pages. Sorry if this is more funnel cake than you can handle!

Twirly Milkshake Sign

I made this giant rotating milkshake for a pie/milkshake merchant. The provided graphics were applied to gatorboard which I sandwiched around a signpost and then bulked-up with some polyurethane foam. The edge was painted white and covered with glitter.

The base is plywood and contains a drill motor, which spins the giant milkshake!

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