The Iowa State Fair Butter Cow might be world famous, but this year, fairgoers can add another item to the list of internationally known attractions: work by the 3D Design Program students at the University of Iowa.
This year, a group of students from 3D design will create the UI’s state fair booth—a first for both the program and the university. The experience is a bit of a capstone for a group of student designers who have spent the last year traveling around the globe, competing for and winning multiple international awards.
“If someone told me a year ago that I would be doing all of these crazy things, I wouldn’t believe them. If I had not come to the University of Iowa, I don’t think I would have had all of these opportunities.”
—Vako Darjania, 3D Design Program student
Under the direction of adviser Monica Correia, students Vako Darjania, Hailey Kurtz, and Chuck Romans won the top prize at the prestigious SOFA CONNECT design competition in Chicago in 2014. In April 2015, the students were invited to showcase their work at Salone del Mobile in Milan—with only one other design school from the United States. Just three weeks later, they traveled to New York City to compete in the 27th annual ICFF, North America’s premier showcase for contemporary design. The UI team won the prestigious ICFF editors' award for best school, beating out top-ranked Rhode Island School of Design.
After returning from CONNECT, the UI approached the team about designing the Iowa State Fair booth for this year, and the students jumped on board.
“If someone told me a year ago that I would be doing all of these crazy things, I wouldn’t believe them,” Darjania says. “If I had not come to the University of Iowa, I don’t think I would have had all of these opportunities.”
As for the design, the students say they were inspired to create something that represents what the University of Iowa does best. They don’t want to give away any major secrets, but say that fairgoers will notice a nod to both sports and medicine in some creative, abstract, and interactive ways.
“This is like nothing the Iowa State Fair has ever seen before,” Darjania says.
The students agree that the project is like nothing they’ve ever experienced, too. Typically, they might have spent the summer at an internship that wouldn’t be nearly as hands-on, and this is the first time they’ve been commissioned to do real work for a client in a professional setting. The university has given the team all the resources they’ve needed along the way, says Kurtz.
“This is all through the UI—we get to use all of the technology and capabilities available here. That in itself is a unique thing that most people don’t do,” Kurtz says. “Being able to do something for Iowa and represent our school is really rewarding.”
3D Design Program students Sarah Gutowski, Yiwen Chu, Breeana Glenn, Magen Krones, and Darcy McGuire have also joined as members of the State Fair booth design team.
The University of Iowa booth will be on display at the Iowa State Fair from Aug. 13 to 23.