The spider, the pig, and the child in all of us: How FIT students spun a web for Charlotte

For the past month, people walking by FIT on 7th Avenue between 27th and 28th Streets have been caught in Charlotte’s Web. Students in Prof. Glenn Sokoli’s Advanced Store Window Design class transformed the Colin Burch Window in the Pomerantz Art and Design Center into pages of the children’s classic by E.B. White, complete with Charlotte the spider, her friend Wilbur the pig, and of course the web itself.

Display window tribute to the 70th anniversary of E.B. White’s children’s book “Charlotte’s Web”

Said Anne Kong, Program Director of the Spatial Experience Design program, “people have been standing in front of it and taking selfies… It’s been pretty exciting!”

The display, which ends December 13,  was created by students Anum Khawaja, Ana Belardi, Lauren Axford, Alyssa Monez, and Gabriel Hottinger. In these advanced classes, students experiment with more sophisticated approaches to display.

Charlotte’s Web display closeup

“Spatial Design” is a new term, which influenced the name of FIT’s program.  It’s trending, Prof. Kong says. “The term “spatial” refers to bringing some of what has been considered ‘window dressing’ beyond just product display to take advantage of a store’s façade and have fun drawing people in.”

It started a decade ago with Cartier adding a multistory big red bow around its store façade in New York City. The store itself became a giant gift box. Dior, Chanel and others have followed, adding fantasy themes inside and out.

The Spatial Experience Design program integrates an array of creative technologies says Prof. Kong.

“Quite a bit of technology went into that window. The students 3D printed Wilbur and also Charlotte’s legs. There is a lot of prop and set design expertise going into that design,” says Prof. Kong.

Wiber, a character from “Charlotte’s Web”

Why Charlotte’s Web? “It’s the 70th anniversary of the book’s original publication and there’s a new book release so we figured we wanted to build a window that’s looking right into the story,” said student Anum Khawaja.

“We grew up with the book. Prof. Sokoli also grew up with the movie. We bonded,” said Khawaja.

For homework the students watched the movie. They all chose a scene or section to recreate. They decided to use the scene where Wilbur first meets Charlotte.

Charlotte’s legs are painted before gluing the flocking powder on to ensure a solid coat of black underneath
Charlotte’s body with floral wire with wrapped string around the wire to give the illusion that she is suspended by a strand of silk

“We wanted to recreate that scene but also give it a sense of scale and a sense of strength, because Charlotte is a spider; she’s small but we wanted to make her feel large and as important as she is in the book, by scaling her up and making her the scene focus.”

Lauren Axford lining up the vinyl for the title of the window and considering its position

To learn more about the Spatial Experience Design program (formally  Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design) go to: Spatial Experience Design at FIT.