Interior Design students at Fanshawe College are currently designing retail display units and planning options for pop-up marketplace retail experiences in Innovation Village. In the students’ fourth year of the Honours Bachelor of Interior Design program, they take a course called Independent Study Project, where they find a project of social merit that is meaningful and gives back to the community.


Meghan Mastronardi is a full-time faculty member in the program who is a registered interior designer and specializes in sustainable design. She said, “We partnered with Innovation Village, Leap Junction and Fanshawe Student Union on this project because we thought it was a fantastic opportunity for students to design something creative and memorable within the College community and know that the Innovation Village project will bring so much exciting change to the student experience at Fanshawe.”

Students have been working in small teams for most of the semester and have had the opportunity to utilize the digital fabrication studio equipment to create prototype models for this project.

“The students designed a custom and modular retail display unit that could be used by marketplace vendors to sell their goods at Fanshawe, and then had the opportunity to work in the digital fabrication studio with either 3D printers, laser cutters or CNC machines to produce small, scaled prototype models of what their designs would look like,” Meghan says. She also said that this ties nicely with the nature of Innovation Village, using the latest technology as a tool to communicate their creative designs to their clients through experiential learning.

The interior design students knew they had an exciting challenge ahead of them and were eager to tackle the design problem after doing research on the different topics that influence the project and interviewing some marketplace entrepreneurs to determine their needs. Meghan says, “They really enjoyed learning about the interior and architectural plans for Innovation Village and seeing what the design team at the firm Diamond Schmitt Architects had planned for the project.” She also says that it was great for the students to have the opportunity to be a part of this large-scale construction project that is happening on Fanshawe’s London Campus and learn about the design teams’ plans for the project as it is all unfolding before us.

Meghan added this was a well-timed opportunity for the students because when they are in fourth year, they are ready to utilize their interior design skills and talents by working independently to fulfill the client’s specific requirements for a flexible, modular, durable, sustainable, innovative, and human centric design.

“They have a co-op experience between their third and fourth year, which helps prepare them for a realistic design challenge and they are getting close to graduating and entering the interior design profession. This project gives them the opportunity to collaborate with a real client and utilize some of the different technology they’ve learned throughout the program,” she says. 

Going forward, they are looking at this project to determine future opportunities for the Interior Design program. The second stage of the project includes the students planning how the retail pop-up displays could create different user experiences within Innovation Village. There are four teams of students working on the design and each team works on a different area of Innovation Village, including Forwell Hall, the Agora, the Coffee Zone, and the Welcome Lounge. Meghan says, “Each group will determine how their retail units would look and function while set up as a market experience within those key areas and communicate how they visualize that within the actual spaces.” She also says that if the students produce a design that the Fanshawe team really likes, they will consider a future project where students can build one of the units at full scale using the shop equipment available to them which will be considered for use within Innovation Village.

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