As the Spring 2017 semester begins, Associate Professor Jennifer Banning writes about some recent facility upgrades in the Fashion Design and Merchandising Program (shown in the picture above) that took place before the Fall 2016 semester.

When we re-imagined how the revised space could look, we focused on both function and fashion, aiming to maximize impact while minimizing the cost. The previous space was inefficient because it contained equipment and furniture that had accumulated from the time Turner Hall was built in the 1960s to the present day. Much of what was in the studio was leftover from courses that are no longer taught and was designed for small groups of students working in the room a few times a week. The renovated space needed to accommodate multiple courses with more students while still providing adequate space for students to work. We completed a thorough “house-cleaning” of equipment, supplies, and outdated curriculum, which immediately resulted in more space. We then had university carpenters remove a sink and old cabinets that haven’t been used in years, resulting in additional space. With more floor space we could then move remaining machines and other equipment to create designated “areas” for each: industrial lockstitch machines, home lockstitch machines, overlock machines, and ironing equipment.

We were fortunate to be able to purchase new industrial lockstitch machines and overlock machines to replace ones that were more than 15 years old. The old machines were in a constant state of disrepair, causing many students to avoid them all together and creating gridlock when machines were in high demand. The new machines meet OSHA requirements and have task lighting attached, making them much safer for students to operate. The new machines also have adjustable speed motors, a feature that makes them more manageable for the many new sewers we have in our courses each semester. Four new overlock machines represent the latest technology and can be “self-threaded” with the push of a button. This will dramatically reduce the amount of time the instructor spends maintaining broken machines and gives students the opportunity to repair a machine themselves when necessary.

Next came aesthetic changes—paint and new storage. With a limited range of University-approved paint colors from which to choose, we designed a color scheme that used two of the colors to give a muted, classy effect. Fresh paint on all walls visually pulled the room together and coordinated with our remaining furniture. New cabinets that matched the paint gave us ample matching storage that could store everything needed for the courses taught in the studio. Locking doors on the cabinets allow us to keep excess materials stored away, keeping a neat appearance to the studio, with the added security of locks so that specific materials can be secured.

In the past when guests entered the design studio, they saw a space crammed with a variety of equipment and supplies with no real focus. It left the impression that the program was unorganized and out-of-date. The new studio space is the opposite—fresh, purposeful, and efficient, reinforcing to guests and students that the space is as forward-thinking as the Fashion Design and Merchandising Program itself. Future additions will include enlarged photographs from past fashion shows sponsored by our student organization, the Fashion Design and Merchandising Association, which will provide color and inspiration to students as they work in the space.

We are very glad to have a newly renovated studio that allows our students more space to learn and demonstrate their activities. It has been a great semester in the newly renovated room for both professors and students.