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Deconstruct! Donate! Shop & Reuse!

As it comes to a close, Chia-Wei Liu talks about a project supported by the Ideas That Matter grant that he’s participated in since last summer, and the experience collaborating with a nonprofit organization to advance environmental sustainability.

Last summer, I enrolled in “Citizen Designer,” a class offered by Continuing Education. During the class, the instructor Lara McCormick applied for the Sappi Ideas That Matter grant and assembled a team of three students, including Viviana Briseño, Libby Clarke, and me to work with a nonprofit in assisting with their design needs.

Since then, our group won the Sappi grant, and we collaborated with Build It Green! NYC, New York City’s only nonprofit retail outlet for salvaged and surplus building materials. BIG!NYC is committed to reducing waste and promoting reuse, but they lacked a print campaign to promote their mission.

We created print materials and signage to help spread their message, along with a wayfinding solution to help customers navigate the store. On the team, I am responsible for designing an in-store wayfinding map for the BIG!NYC’s warehouse, which has everything from panel doors to high-end refrigerators to movie props.

A series of poster signages for BIG!NYC designed by Libby Clarke.
A series of poster signages for BIG!NYC designed by Libby Clarke.

A series of poster signages for BIG!NYC designed by Libby Clarke.

Our team lead Lara McCormick notes that “the project is executed in the most sustainable way… We’re working with local vendors, using recycled paper, non-toxic inks, and reusing materials wherever possible.” The project is quite challenging, but I feel very comfortable in doing it since I could incorporate skills and knowledge developed from the first year class “Information Visualization,” where I learned how to use less chart clutter to deliver the most valuable information.

The project is still on going and expected to be completed by late March. It’s been a wonderful experience being in Lara’s class and the team, where I learned not only about sustainable design, but also how to pitch projects and earn grants.

–Chia-Wei Liu, Class of 2011

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