De­sign stu­dents in­vent new looks and ideas for the mu­seum store and cafe

The Victoria Standard - - Front Page - ANDREW BROOKS

“Great dis­cov­er­ies and im­prove­ments in­vari­ably in­volve the co­op­er­a­tion of many minds. I may be given credit for hav­ing blazed the trail, but when I look at the sub­se­quent de­vel­op­ments I feel the credit is due to oth­ers rather than to my­self.”

Alexan­der Gra­ham Bell

This past spring, stu­dents from In­struc­tor May Chung’s third-year de­sign class at the Nova Sco­tia Col­lege of Arts and De­sign (NSCAD) spent two months deeply en­gaged in a brand­ing and prod­uct de­sign ex­er­cise in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Parks Canada, the Alexan­der Gra­ham Bell Foun­da­tion (AGBF) and the Alexan­der Gra­ham Bell Mu­seum As­so­ci­a­tion (AGBMA).

AGBF Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Les­lie Wright has known Chung for a num­ber of years and had been look­ing for a way for the two to work to­gether. When the AGBMA re­ceived fund­ing last year from ACOA to re­de­velop the mu­seum store with more lo­cal and orig­i­nal of­fer­ings, and to bring the store on­line, Wright saw an op­por­tu­nity ripe for both the site and stu­dents alike.

A group of eigh­teen stu­dents vis­ited the Alexan­der Gra­ham Bell Na­tional His­toric Site (AGBNHS) in Fe­bru­ary, re­ceiv­ing help from Parks Canada staff to con­duct back­ground re­search for the project.

“It was amaz­ing to see the stu­dents im­merse them­selves in the story and legacy of Alexan­der and Ma­bel Bell - and to then take that ex­ten­sive re­search and learn­ing and ap­ply it to the de­vel­op­ment of prod­uct and con­cept ideas for the Mu­seum Store and Café,” says Wright. “They brought their in­di­vid­ual tal­ents, ex­pe­ri­ences and in­ter­ests to each project — we gave them li­cense to de­velop and run with a project that they were pas­sion­ate about.”

On July 17, four of the de­sign stu­dents - Charl Fourie, Kath­leen Hoang, Xiaoyi “Pa­trice” Dong and Rui Hu, spent the day at the AGBNHS tend­ing to an ex­hibit of all of the in­no­va­tions cre­ated by their class.

Fourie used new soft­ware tech­nol­ogy and old doc­u­ments of Bell’s to cre­ate a script font of the in­ven­tor’s hand­writ­ing. A workin-progress, Fourie says he still needs to add num­bers and sym­bols to the ty­pog­ra­phy and find a way to nat­u­rally tie the let­ters to­gether into a proper script.

Xiaoyi Dong took the op­por­tu­nity to re­think the very build­ing that housed the store and café. Hav­ing never worked with ar­chi­tec­ture or in­te­rior de­sign be­fore, Dong built a model of a new build­ing she en­vi­sions stand­ing across the road­way from the mu­seum.

“If you want to let peo­ple see all the amaz­ing prod­ucts that my fel­low class­mates made, you first have to be at­tracted to go into the store.”

Hoang, who cre­ated a dual-sided deck of cards that dou­bled as a Bell-themed puz­zle, was ap­pre­cia­tive of the open na­ture of the project.

“There were no con­straints. You had to think cre­atively and in­no­va­tively, so that’s ba­si­cally what we did. In­vent.”

As luck would have it, Parks Canada’s CEO Daniel Wat­son was in Cape Bre­ton re­cently and toured the ex­hibit while vis­it­ing the AGBNHS on July 18. Ac­cord­ing to a spokesper­son for his of­fice, Mr. Wat­son was “im­pressed by the in­no­va­tion that the stu­dents de­mon­strated in cap­tur­ing the Bell story by tak­ing cen­tury old in­ven­tions and ideas, and ap­ply­ing them to present day.”

Bell’s story and spirit ap­pears to have in­deed made an im­pact on the stu­dents.

“He was such an in­tel­li­gent per­son, be­cause he was not only think­ing about the present, he also car­ried on what was left from his fa­ther and grand­fa­ther, like vis­i­ble speech,” says Dong. “He cared about the fu­ture – he’s not only in­vent­ing kites, but think­ing about what will come in the fu­ture. That’s how the Sil­ver Dart [came along]. He’s still around. He never leaves.”

Third-year de­sign stu­dent Rui Hu cre­ated this ta­ble and chairs set for the AGBNHS cafe as part of an in­no­va­tion project in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Nova Sco­tia Col­lege of Arts and De­sign (NSCAD) and lo­cal Alexan­der Gra­ham Bell or­ga­ni­za­tions. When the chairs are pushed in, they form tetra­he­dral shapes fre­quently used in Bell's own de­signs. The back legs of the chairs are pur­pose­fully trans­par­ent to give the sense that the sit­ter is float­ing in the air. Hu's model and her class­mates projects were on dis­play re­cently at the AGBNHS.PHOTO by Andrew Brooks / The Vic­to­ria Stan­dard.

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