An uncommon collaboration

Amanda Phillips

Amanda Phillips in front of the new pallet wall at Berg’s Country Barn.

This November, College of Design and U of M Extension faculty and students partnered to create the Joint Retail Assistance Program. Design student Amanda Phillips had the opportunity to act as the lead for the first trial run of the program: helping small-business owner Anita Berg create Berg’s Country Barn, a holiday pop-up store.

“The moment I was asked to be a part of this project, I started doing a lot of exploratory research,” says Phillips.

She and faculty members visited Berg’s Country Barn to see it first hand and to talk with the owner about how the team could best help her and her business.

With Berg’s vision in mind, Phillips conducted research on current retailing trends for the holiday shopping season and came up with design concepts that would fit with Berg’s business and make the greatest impact.

“The first concept was to update the business branding on social media by giving them a unified logo,” says Phillips. “The second was to improve the store setting by creating a backdrop for the barn to draw customers’ eyes to the walls.”

For that, the students used recycled pallets and created a distressed pallet wall with the new Berg’s Country Barn Logo across the wall.

Students also adjusted the exterior of the barn to make it clear that it wasn’t just another barn.

To bring all the concepts to life so quickly, Phillips recruited fellow design students Cathryn Wunrow, Allison Sterneman, and Natalia Piela.

With the team working together, all of Phillips’ design concepts were implemented within a month, ensuring that the pop-up was ready for peak holiday shopping season.

“I feel so lucky to have been a part of the Retail Assistance Program team,” Phillips says. “It was a dream come true to use the design skills and business knowledge I’ve gained during my four years at the U.”

A version of this story originally appeared in on the College of Design blog.


Read about another collaboration between two apparel design students that has turned into a successful small business >
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities