Student News

Students take top award in corrugated design

winning corrugated design
The winning design created by Alex Hall and Maddie Zuzek.

Dunwoody students have long been known for their ability to think outside the box, and for one department in particular, that age old adage can be taken quite literally.

Each year students in the Graphic Design & Production department have the opportunity to participate in the Student Packaging Design Competition hosted by The AICC, Independent Packaging Association. There are three different categories of competition with specific and rather rigid guidelines, but the end goal is the same: create the best design out there with corrugated material. (Or, as many non-industry professionals may refer to it as, cardboard).

This last spring a handful of students sought to take on the Corrugated as Art category where the task was to design a structure completely out of corrugated material that fits this year’s theme of Canada.

Second year students Alex Hall and Maddie Zuzek said the process started out with a lot of brainstorming around some really exciting and complex ideas, particularly because the theme was so broad. “It started off with a lot of ideas that we thought would be really cool,” Maddie recalled, “but as the project went along it became harder and harder to think about how we were going to execute all of these cool ideas that people had within the timeframe.”

Through finals, summer jobs, and last minute design changes, Alex and Maddie stole the show with their submission taking first place in the Corrugated as Art category.

The final three-dimensional design included a detailed hockey rink surrounded by fan-filled bleachers that sat atop a large maple leaf cut out. If that wasn’t enough, they also managed to include a freestanding cut out of Niagara Falls that added depth and the impression of movement to the piece. 

“What adds a level of interest and challenge to this competition is that everything must be done completely out of corrugated material. This means no ink. You are challenged to see what you can you do that is creative once your ink is taken away,” said Pete Rivard, Associate Professor of Graphic Design & Production.

While Maddie and Alex would have loved the freedom of using different materials and inks to enhance their design, they knew that it was not what this project was about. Working within the bounds of the competition rules they utilized different colored corrugated, both unbleached and bleached, to add interest to different aspects of the piece. For example, to make the ice rink more realistic, they worked to vary the depth and weight of different cuts on the CAD machine to add dimension and detail. Perhaps the most impressive aspect (and in their eyes, one of the more challenging parts to conquer) was the creation of Niagara Falls. After a number of different iterations, trials, and stumbles, the design they settled on utilized a number of cut-outs, fanned out at slightly different angles, giving the idea of crashing waves and movement.

Both are currently pursuing a degree Graphic Design and Production with a specific emphasis on packaging and structural design. Being able to see something come to life is something that Alex finds really satisfying.

They both agreed that the process of designing, redesigning, prototyping and fighting through the challenges when a design fails is all part of the experience. It makes the end result that much better.

It is that kind of drive and determination that helps to make Dunwoody students stand out. With submissions from schools across the U.S. and Canada, “participating in this competition puts us in the same conversation as some of these larger, well known universities. It also benchmarks where our program relates to other colleges and universities,” Rivard said. Other institutions participating have included California Polytechnic University, Michigan State, University of Wisconsin-Stout, Ryerson University and the University of Texas, to name a few.

Having won first place in the Corrugated as Art category three of the last four years, and taken top spots in both the Structural and Design Challenges categories over the years, Dunwoody students continue to make their mark in a tough, ever changing industry. As winners this year, Alex and Maddie have been invited to attend the AICC conference that is being held in Toronto, Canada, in mid-September. There they will network and stretch their skills even further by participating in on-site design challenges with other students and industry professionals from all over. As for a follow up to this project? The students are taking a stab at designing a mini-golf hole for an upcoming conference event this fall, and we cannot wait to see it.