Wightman Remodel Benefits Fashion Students

Fashion students at Central Michigan University have new technology to be excited about.

Over the summer, the second floor of Wightman Hall, a fashion major’s second home, received major renovations. What was once an unused storage room has been turned into a modern visual merchandising lab.

To gain insight on the new changes, we spoke with Michael Mamp, a professor within the fashion merchandising and design program.

Grand Central: For those who aren’t in the fashion merchandising and design program here at CMU, can you explain the need and purpose of the new visual merchandising lab?

MM: The visual merchandising lab allows our students to put the theory of merchandising into action. Moving beyond traditional lecture formats, the lab encourages hands-on experience for students, including styling, merchandising presentation and innovative display techniques.IMG_5933

GC: What was your initial thought process and vision behind the idea of the new lab?

MM: The fashion merchandising and design faculty wanted to provide a new learning opportunity particularly for our merchandising students. There is not a lab of this kind at any other institution in the United States. However, we did look closely at an innovative space being used at Hong Kong Polytechnic. Specifically, I envisioned a space that would simulate a store environment, while also providing active learning space for students and instructors to engage.

GC: Can you explain some of the features that this new lab includes, for those who may not have seen it yet?

MM: The lab features merchandisable walls, (like in an actual retail store), with hardware from the German company Visplay, a global leader in retail fixture development. It also includes versatile window display areas that can be converted from open back to closed back displays, Prodisplay FOIL technology that converts the glass of one window into an interactive touch screen graphic display, a Makerbot Z18 3D Printer, vinyl printing and cutting technology, a six zone advanced lighting system, as well as computer workstations with creative suite cloud access.

GC: Has the new lab changed how the visual merchandising class is run or taught?

MM: The lab has completely inspired the total flip of the learning experience in FMD 356 (Visual MeIMG_5916rchandising). The course is now offered via a hybrid format where all lectures are delivered online and student time in class is all hands-on. In addition, the space has allowed for the development of a new course, FMD 556 (Advanced Visual Merchandising) that will be offered for the first time in fall 2016.

GC: Finally, can you explain the future of 3D printing classes for fashion students and explain where those will take place?

MM: FMD, along with Art, have collaborated to establish a Makerbot Innovation Center in Wightman 143 that will feature over twenty 3D printers and a selection of scanners. This print lab will support curriculum in both FMD and Art, as well as be available to the greater CMU community. Specifically, I have developed a new course FMD 565 (3D Printing and Fashion) that is currently being offered this semester.