Goodwill: Upcycle Lifestyle

Summer 2012  

Students spent the Summer 2012 term redesigning the spatial experience for Goodwill of Orange County’s retail stores, with a focus on social responsibility, environmental awareness and making a positive impact on the community.


Goodwill of Orange County is a nonprofit organization with its main campus located in Santa Ana. Now in its 88th year, Goodwill of Orange County provides thousands of people with disabilities and other barriers the opportunity to achieve their highest levels of personal and economic independence through competitive employment.

Goodwill of Orange County recently rebranded their stores with the help of Santa Monica design firm Geyrhalter & Company. The agency’s principal, Fabian Geyrhalter, an Art Center alumnus and former instructor, connected the College with Goodwill to collaborate on an upcycling project.


“We appreciate the caliber of the students who are working on this project—they have technical expertise and they’re passionate. Each time we’ve gotten together with them, we come back re-inspired. The beauty is that there’s so much here that’s implementable.”

– Katherine Ransom, Sr. Director, Marketing & Communications, Goodwill of Orange County

“We made several trips to Orange County and we learned so much about the inspiring work of Goodwill. Their mission was an important catalyst that drove our creative process forward.”

– James Meraz, Professor, ArtCenter College of Design


Design Brief

The students were assigned to use recycled materials such as wood, computer parts, textiles and other industrial items found in Goodwill’s stores, recycling, salvage and processing areas to create a visual and tactile experience for shoppers at Goodwill retail stores, reflective of Goodwill’s reuse and repurpose model.

Students were also tasked with the job of leveraging Goodwill’s community-strengthening programs. The organization not only provides training and employment services to empower individuals with barriers, but Goodwill’s stores, donation processing centers and donation sites also serve as training grounds to provide supportive work experience and on-the-job training.


Students interested in spatial experience, historic preservation and urban design were drawn to the project and contributed a variety of perspectives and skill sets. Throughout the three-month project, they gained experience in re-branding, upcycling, budgeting, repurposing, practical design applications and a deeper appreciation of Goodwill mission services.

Following multiple visits to Orange County Goodwill stores, the students split into five separate teams, developed concept drawings and materials studies, culminating during the final class when students presented design boards, models, mock-ups and full-scale constructs.

Students came up with several colorful methods to enhance the retail experience and highlight both Goodwill’s social services and the upcycling possibilities inherent in Goodwill’s merchandise.


“With this class, we had the same constraints we have for other studios, but it felt more fluid. Every week there we’d discover 10 new possibilities for the materials we were working with.”

– Cora Neil, Environmental Design student

“We are thrilled with the outcome and can’t wait to start implementing these amazing design concepts into our stores. We can’t thank the students and faculty enough for offering an outside perspective, and breathing new life and creativity into our retail program.”

– Corrine Allen, Vice President, Retail Operations, Goodwill of Orange County

Project Outcomes

The Fab Fixies
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Rosa Lee, Hugo Pilate and Elisabeth Gaston

The Fab Fixies transformed the store’s existing fixture system with solutions ranging from rolled-up t-shirts arranged on a wall in pixel art-like patterns to seating created out of jeans and woven inner tubes.

The Arrivals
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Cora Neil, Luke Uyeda and Tiffany Heng

The Arrivals created large billowing ribbons of upcycled materials (home-made paper, used VHS movie boxes and t-shirts) that will not only direct customers within the store, but extend the experience to the stores window displays and into the parking lot.

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Yuko Wirth, Sophia Huang and Meyoung Kim

Re3 took inspiration from the food truck phenomenon and created modular and mobile do-it-yourself workshops that take place both within stores and that can also extend the Goodwill experience beyond the store to parking lots throughout Orange County.

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Diana Liu, Valeria Kwon and Jessica Lin

Freestyle sought to change the look and feel of individual Goodwill stores by creating a style guide for store themes which would embrace both upcycling and the local culture of individual stores. Examples they created included “SoCal Summer,” nautical and rockabilly themes, which all have strong ties to Orange County culture.

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Jori Brown and Missie Ma

Collabo explored the concept of Goodwill teaming up with another well-known brand (in the case of the final presentation, apparel company Vans). The idea involves creating exclusive events, pop-up stores and limited edition merchandise to create buzz for both Goodwill and their collaborators.




Team Re3′s  Modular (do-it-yourself) Workshop Station will be the first design implemented by Goodwill of Orange County. They are currently in the preliminary stages of building the first full-scale construct.