Copenhagen: Sustainable by Design

Denmark has been steadily investing time, money and effort into sustainable solutions for the problems presented by climate change. Eleven students and two professors traveled to Denmark in order to learn—and learn from—Danish Design by visiting castles, a type foundry, an internationally famous brewery’s image design team and three very sophisticated art museums.


West Chester University

Practice Area


West Chester University


The Challenge

Putting a spotlight on the Center for International Studies and Sustainability programs at the university, this interactive exhibit would be installed in a small gallery close to the art and design building on campus. A significant challenge was combining Denmark’s role in shaping classic Scandinavian design traditions and their leadership status in sustainable initiatives in a way that would shed light on Danish design as well as give a strategic plan for sustainability goals set forth by our own university.

Project Vision

While abroad, the focus of our study was Denmark’s role in shaping classic Scandinavian design traditions, as well as their leadership status in sustainable initiatives. This fully immersive exhibit was designed and installed to include a variety of interactive experiences that incorporated low to semi-high technology. Thematic zones were identified by simple panels printed on paper fastened to the wall with paper clips framed with repurposed cardboard to interpret these experiences.

Experience life in Denmark while taking a bicycle ride through the streets in Copenhagen.

To spark interest outside of the exhibit, guests can take pins inspired by different paradigm shifts that would then reveal and an info graph.

Using reusable materials to create these objects, guests can interact by taking a seat or walking under a motion activated light.

Learning about the history of Denmark with a video explaining why the Danish are considered to be ”happy.”

Design + Execution

Initially, navigating as a team was a challenge but we quickly concluded that the hallmark of Scandinavian design would drive our approach. The color red (Denmark’s brand), white and cardboard would be our overall aesthetic and where we could, we would upcycle or recycle components for the exhibit. A vector drawing of prominent landmarks in Copenhagen was printed on transparent window clings and served as a reference to the region when seen from the interior. We had access to a plotter in our library where we could print large-scale panels on simple bond paper and a few computer screens, and multiple iPads that we used for interactive storytelling.

We divided the space by hanging long vertical panels from the ceiling, which helped organize the long narrow space into thematic areas. We signaled these thematic areas by using narrow red paper panels projected from the walls with the appropriate titles.

Our campus had established a new bike-share program, and since Copenhagen is known as the city of bikes, we had a stationary bike in the room where a visitor could sit and ride. That simple interactive came to life with a projected video of bike riders traveling through Copenhagen that spanned the entire width of the wall in front of the rider, with bicycling stats appearing at random moments for the rider and other visitors to read.

An interactive app that explains the sustainable efforts Denmark has done to be carbon neutral. Project Name: Copenhagen: Sustainable by Design

Close up shot of interactive bicycle with view of recyclable frames on the wall.

Windows had clear illustrated vinyls to help viewers be immersed in another country.

West Chester University Design Team
Project Details
A student project that resulted in an actual exhibition, which gave the students the kind of 'real world' experience that is so rare and so valuable in student projects. The exhibit itself is bold, clean, and well-articulated, aptly reflecting the exhibit's subject—Denmark’s commitment to sustainable design—which the students experienced on their trip to Copenhagen.
Juror 1
What I really liked about this student project was that they actually built several functional digital exhibits that performed important functions for their exhibition. It is much harder to execute and implement digital exhibits than it is to describe them in a proposal. This team showed that they could form a concept, design, and execute against that vision. Well done.
Juror 2
Design Team

David Jones
Andrew DePompeo
Brie Moriarty
Abbie Gowan
Abbey Kostyal (brand designer and exhibition assembly)
Karen Watkins (elevation designer and exhibition assembly)
Carlea Stremme (demographics designer and exhibition assembly)
Kelsey Mountford (video content for exhibit and exhibition assembly)
Rebecca Lormeus (illustrator and exhibition assembly)
Claire Wade (social media content and strategy and exhibition assembly)
Emerson Hakes (social media content and strategy and exhibition assembly)


Dr. Bradley Flamm (Director, Office of Sustainability)
Jen Bacon (Dean, The College of the Arts and Humanities)
Heather F. Sharpe (Chair, Professor of Art History)

Photo Credits

West Chester University Design Team

Open Date

October 2019