Barbie Play with Fashion

Merit Award

The fourth-semester class of the Fashion Institute of Technology’s associates degree program developed the Barbie Play with Fashion exhibition as part of a design competition to create fashions, interior designs, jewelry, photos, films, and visual displays for Barbie and Ken. The partnership with Mattel Inc. was also aimed at reinvigorating the Barbie brand to reflect greater fashion and design sophistication in the toy's audience. Finalists in the competition developed their designs into a two-story, multimedia exhibition held in the lobby of FIT’s Fred P. Pomerantz Art and Design Center in Manhattan.

The 600-square-foot exhibition was in place for four months and attracted more than 10,000 unique visitors. The 36 students in the fourth-semester class developed the design for the exhibition through a rigorous process beginning with analysis of design, market, and brand trends and small-group exploration of various design concepts. From these concepts, a group strategy was developed and students took on responsibility for graphic identity, object display, digital media, wayfinding, and interpretive elements.

Sponsoring fabricators, material suppliers, and printers educated the students on construction techniques incorporated into the exhibition. The exhibition project was a successful balance of student exploration and design, multidisciplinary collaboration, and the fostering of showmanship meant to bring the excitement of the runway and New York’s Fashion Week to a diverse audience. The exhibition also deftly shows how designers are influenced by both the confluence of play and mass fashion culture.

Jury Comments: 

“A highly successful exhibition design executed by a group of fourth-semester students in five design majors. I’ve seen it and enjoyed its humor and competence.”

“The exhibition title says it all: "The Pink Issue." The iconic doll brand is delightfully brought to life in this small-scale exhibition. I particularly liked how the broad variety of elements used in 2D and 3D installations were all held together by color, pattern, and form that so well reflected all that is Barbie. The fact that this was a group project suggests a unified student vision to create something exceptional.”

“Mirroring the collaborative nature of the exhibition design process, the FIT students produced an attractively layered exhibition that takes advantage of site conditions. The exhibition effectively extends to the building’s exterior and into the height of its atrium with large environmental graphics.”

Design Firm: 

Fashion Institute of Technology Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design 4th semester class


Fashion Institute of Technology and Mattel

Location City: 

Fashion Institute of Technology, New York

Project Area: 

1,250 sq ft

Open Date: 

May 8-September 3, 2012

Project Budget: 

$60,000 and in-kind contributions

Photo Credits: 

Fashion Institute of Technology

Design Team: 

Faculty advisors:

Craig Berger (lead professor and department chair)

Anne Kong (lead professor)

Lawrence Langham (graphic design professor)

Robin Drake (graphic design professor)


Carol Kane, Charlotte Bargoud, Cheeye Choi, Emma Pawlukojc, Samiel Laury, Zhanna Gomanenko, Ellie Yeeun Kim, Emily Hervan, Lorena Rodriguez Ostia, Lani Gideon, Da-Re Kim , Dahea You, Tina Kim, Keisha Caceres, Katherine Hasler, Kyu Yeong Lee, Stephanie Denier, Elyse Falato, Thiago Eichner, Phoebe King, Patricia Loviglio, Daniela Moldonado, Sarah Petrik, Daleja Foreman, Shweta Sharma, Daniel Morris, Sean Madden, Sarah Karp, Mike Johnston, Larissa Taylor, Perle Malka, Gabrielle Marino, Natasha Melo, Jihye Shin


Michael Eudy, Jason Mitja (technical advisors)

Sheila Manion Artz (graphic advisor)

FIT museum fab

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