ASSISTANT EXHIBIT DESIGNER
CHARLES H. WRIGHT MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY, DETROIT MI
Shivani Gajjar is an exhibit designer at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. She graduated from the College of Design at NCSU (North Carolina State University) in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design. Halfway through college, she interned at the City of Raleigh Museum and realized she had found her calling. Another internship at an exhibit design firm, and the unique opportunity to intern at Smithsonian Institution Exhibits (SIE) after college, led to a job with Wilderness Graphics, a small exhibit design company based in Tallahassee FL. In January 2019, she began working at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the second largest African American museum in the country. For Shavani, exhibit design is an exciting mix of research, graphic design, structural design and hands-on work. She enjoys learning about history and bringing it to life to museum visitors and believes that seeing a visitor learn something new is the best part of being an inhouse designer at a museum. Having recently started her journey as a design professional, she hopes to continue to gain experience and knowledge and looks forward to future design projects in 2021 and beyond.
Has the pandemic changed your workplace and your workflow? Do you expect to return to pre-pandemic ways of working or will any changes become the ‘new normal’?
I now work from home half the week and from the museum for the other half. I give priority to computer work (research, floor plans, graphics, spreadsheets) when I am at home. At the museum, I focus on hands-on work and discuss concepts/layouts for exhibits with my supervisor. The changes have not impacted my design process. More virtual meetings is a change that I expect will become the “new normal”.
What do you expect 2021 to hold for graphic designers and the design business? Have the challenges of 2020 changed the way you think about your job and career or the role of design?
The challenges of 2020 have changed the way I think about my job and career. I now understand the enormous influence that design can have on social movements and social change. The power of a welldesigned and effective story is the power to change the paradigm. I expect that 2021 will be the year that the design business will see a renewed focus on projects that relate to major social issues of our time such as climate change, racial equality, women’s rights, etc.
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