Student designs exhibited in second annual Window Walk


Students from St. Edward’s University will be participating in the Holiday Window Walk, with artwork on display from December 8 to January 2.

With the holiday season just around the corner, some Austin area stores have begun prepping their stores with holiday cheer. 

In preparation for the season, 2nd Street District is holding its second annual Holiday Window Walk competition. Students from St. Edward’s University, Texas State University and the University of Texas at Austin, UT, submitted design renderings for the various shops down Second Street.

This year, the theme was Classic Children’s Books and Fairy Tales.

The University of Texas only allowed their second and third-year graduate students from the Master’s program to participate in the competition. According to Michelle Habeck, UT’s competition faculty adviser, the competition benefited the students’ graduate studio course. However, Texas State has undergraduate students participating like St. Edward’s.

“It sets the bar high. It makes our program more visible,” Assistant Professor of Scenic and Lighting Design Kathryn Eader said. “I am thankful for this experience for my students.”

Though the event’s ad states that the participants are theatrical design students, students from St. Edward’s do not all have a design emphasis. However, all of the students are members of the United States Institute for Theatre Technology, USITT. 

Though the competitors are not officially affliated with the university, design professors and instructors have guided the students throughout the process. Alongside Eader, Theatre Technical Director Joe Carpenter and Theatre Costumer T’Cie Mancuso have helped the students realize their potential.

Last year, students from St. Edward’s were the only ones to compete in the first ever Window Walk. A team consisting of junior Alyssa Dillard, senior Andrew Hatcher, senior Devon Brownlow and Jessica Nielson won  the competition with their design called “The Twelve Days of Princemas.”

“The main thing about design is having the confidence to believe that your design is good,” Dillard said. “That’s a lesson you learn as you get older. It’s a lot of good real world experience.”

Senior Skyler McIntosh said student designers could cater design for specific stores. For example, Dillard says she wanted her Jumanji themed design specifically for the Lofty Dog pet store. The designers had the chance to meet with storeowners to discuss their designs as well as find the specific measurements of the windows. Though the storeowners can give input on the designs, the designers have total creative liberty over the window.

The designers are prepared for evolving and transitioning their renderings into physical window designs. 

“The biggest thing is to stay with the integrity of the design. It is a collaboration and negotiating,” McIntosh, who is the chair of the St. Edward’s chapter of USITT, said. “Part of the magic of design is that you don’t want to see how it works. It is easy to draw pictures, but when it comes to suspending a mermaid with 200 CDs, how do you do it?”

As part of the competition process, student designers could pitch up to three designs to Julie Sutton-McGurk, 2nd Street District Retail Marketing Director. From those designs, retailers pick from those submitted designs and the winners were announced through email.

St. Edward’s students won spots in 11 of the 19 windows. With such an amazing coup, the students are now physically preparing their window designs. They had to include a budget with a maximum of $500 along with their submissions. Members from USITT will help the designers create their pieces.

Installations officially start Nov. 30.

 “[This] is a real chance to be a professional designer,” McIntosh said. “The designs must be professional and not bubblegum. The design chic [has] to match the street atmosphere and reputation of Second Street.”

According to the event website, “over $8000 in scholarships generously provided by Silicon Labs and The Downtown Austin Alliance.”

Half of any potential earnings from the competition will go to the student while the other will go towards to the USITT fund for their annual conference.

Winners will be picked by both community voting and guest judges on Dec. 15 during the retail district’s event Deck the District. 

The windows will be on display from Dec. 8 to Jan. 2. To help a St. Edward’s student win the competition, vote at Voting begins Dec. 8 and ends on Dec. 15.