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Lubar Innovation Center students design for Kohler

A series of colorful, sustainability-themed illustrations for Kohler.

Alivia Rapp and Erika Sjoblom, Kohler designs, 2023.

When Kohler needed t-shirt designs created for their Sustainability Champions program and I-Prize competition, the company turned to the Lubar Innovation Center at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD). From there, staff at the Innovation Center connected Kohler with two MIAD Illustration students.

Erika Sjoblom ’23 (Illustration) and Alivia Rapp ’24 were hired to concept and illustrate several designs for Kohler’s sustainability campaigns. The students created t-shirts reflective of Kohler’s core values of sustainability and innovation.

Rapp, who worked on the Sustainability Champions design, said “My goal was to design a shirt that Kohler associates would be able to wear as a way to feel pride in the work they do everyday to better our planet.”

“In my typography-based design, I chose to illustrate three of Kohler’s main sustainability efforts: Water stewardship, reducing emissions and waste reduction,” continues Rapp. “I wanted to emphasize themes such as building community, creating a social impact and innovation. The light and diverse color palette, inspired by Kohler’s newly revived Heritage Colors, brings everything together and makes for a playfully welcoming design overall.”

The Lubar Innovation Center connects MIAD students with companies to work on paid creative projects while providing support and guidance through the process. “[Innovation Center staff] ensured it was a fantastic experience by supporting us through the entire process—whether it was by helping us understand the ins and outs of working with a client or just being available after nerve-wracking meetings for much needed debriefs! They made sure we knew they had our backs,” explains Rapp. “This project was truly when I started to view myself as a working professional and not just as a student. We were treated as such every step of the way.”

Studying Illustration and Communication Design, Rapp found that the Kohler project helped her develop artistically as well as professionally. “I consider this project a turning point for my creative practice as well, as it was around the time that I started to push my style into a more flat and graphic place. It has definitely helped to influence the kind of art I make currently,” she says.

Rapp finishes, “I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities the Innovation Center has provided me and I am excited to continue collaborating with the people there!”

Keep up with Rapp and Sjoblom and learn more about MIAD’s Lubar Innovation Center!

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