One of New York City’s premier public institutions, the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), is an internationally recognized university for design, fashion, art, communications, and business.

Serving more than 10,000 students, FIT calls an entire city block in the heart of Manhattan’s famed Garment District home.

Training for careers in retail and exhibition design, students are tasked with developing designs for stores, museums, trade shows, and stage sets; and gives them hands-on experience working for global companies like Sephora and Godiva.

Smart Tech in the Classroom

Helping to create the curriculum for the program is Assistant Adjunct Professor in Visual Presentation & Exhibition Design, Reginald Rogers, who teaches practical applications of in-store design with the latest 3D technologies.

One of his favorite tools is Kubity, which he discovered way back in 2012, “I’ve been telling everyone about it ever since!” he jokes.

Kubity integrated into the design curriculum at FIT New York
Designer: Evan Petragnani, Client: Crosley Radio
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Rogers self-describes as ‘not a tech person’ but in the search to find new presentation techniques for his students and ways to guide them towards a realistic point of view of their 3D space, he’s become FIT’s unofficial technology ambassador.

“What I like about Kubity is it’s ability to help students gain physical understanding of the retail spaces they design. It also helps demonstrate realistic challenges like how to manage fixtures on a selling floor and how to balance the space for merchandise”.

Automatic photorealistic render by Kubity
Designer: Guillermo Marrero, Client: Holly Hunt
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Render Me This

Kubity also solves one of the biggest problems facing his students today: they don’t know how to properly render 3D models. “We simply don’t have enough time in a semester to teach them complicated rendering software,” says Rogers.

Kubity cuts out a major stage of design. Students no longer have to sit in a lab for days working on a single render.

Reginald Rogers, Adjunct Professor, FIT New York

Using AI, Kubity’s automatic cloud-rendering engine analyzes and classifies SketchUp textures into millions of predefined photorealistic texture categories. These categories are assigned to materials inside the model and rendered in real-time—this means the entire 3D model is rendered in photorealistic detail in just seconds.

Automatic photorealistic render by Kubity
Designer: Sonia Kim, Client: Anthropologie
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Once students learn how to properly apply materials in SketchUp, Kubity does all the heavy lifting for them. Quality textures applied in the original SketchUp model means better rendered results. “Kubity cuts out a major stage of design. Students no longer have to sit in a lab for days working on a single render,” says Rogers.

Design for the Future

As leaders in experiential design, FIT students use software like SketchUp, Vektorworks, and Rhino to communicate fundamental brand narratives and visual merchandising principals. Courses require traditional deliverables like animations, design decks and planograms as well as immersive experiences using AR/VR.

Rogers says the new generation of students are very comfortable using AR and VR apps on their smartphones, “These kids are early-adopters and trend hunters. They would much rather use their phone than a desktop computer.”

Working through design problems using Augmented and Virtual Reality is the perfect way to give students ownership of their projects, “With Kubity we can rework a design again and again until we get it right.”

Augmented Reality by Kubity
Designer: Chumou Zhang, Client: Arlo SoHo
Explore this model in 1:1 scale immersive AR ➡️

Rogers recognizes the ability of AR and VR to transform the retail design landscape, “What’s available today is what I dreamed about doing 7 years ago,” he says, “Kubity gives the ‘wow factor’ and that’s the level I want my students to be at.”

For more information about FIT New York, check them out on Instagram or on the web.

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