Installation | Nov 2019
As part of my Advanced Topics in Graphic Design and Visual Communications class, I was responsible for coming up with a concept for the Hidden to Observation exhibition (H2O), which showcased the interpretation of water contamination data.
Toxic Supply Company is an installation that visualized the prevalence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination. Under the guise of a corporation, Toxic Supply company reveals the harmful effects of PFAS in everyday household supplies, and the impact it has on both humans and the environment.
Thinking about the primary visitors of the Duderstadt Gallery, students, my initial idea for this project was to make stickers. One of my most favorite aspects of a museum is the gift shop, and I thought stickers would be a great nod to this. Through my initial research, I found a number of common water contaminants and wanted each of them to have its own brand and catchy tagline. Feedback I received indicated that while stickers were a great aspect of my project, I needed to add a bit more context as stickers alone would be relatively small within the gallery space.
Researching more about the different types of water contaminants, I was most shocked about both the prevalence and pervasiveness of PFAS aka the ‘forever chemical’.
Discovering the following about PFAS was astonishing:
...a man-made chemical that is contained in many products and goods
… immune to degradation --hence the nickname ‘forever chemical,’
...supported by many large corporations
…not regulated federally in the US
I didn’t understand how something so widespread could go unnoticed. I highlighted the issues concerning PFAS under the guise of a company for my installation titled, “Toxic Supply Company.” The tagline, “Made to Last Forever, is a nod to both the man-made origins of the chemical and the lasting impact.
Toxic Supply Company sells all the products and goods that contain PFAS. The company values reflect the many different types of PFAS chemicals, as well as its immunity and man-made origins. The reach shows how widespread the issue is, with PFAS contamination being found in the bloodstream, in water supplies, and globally. Lastly, the impact poster is there to highlight PFAS’s lack of regulation in the US and both the health and environmental impacts.
Inspired by the Toxic Symbol, I added this to the Toxic Supply Company brand identity.
Adaptability Through Constraints
My initial sketches for the space included a lot of products to be on display similar to that of a storefront. However, the shelves that were on-site were smaller and would not allow me to display a wide variety of products. Due to this limitation, I shifted my focus to strategize a way in which the arrangement could effectively communicate the story of Toxic Supply Company to onlookers.
The banner was printed first at a different facility, however the places where I printed the other things were impacted by the lack of yellow toner on the weekend I dedicated for printing. To mitigate for this, I decided to include other colors into the Toxic Supply Company palette. The yellow-green, green, and purple were incorporated into a gradient with the stickers. I also decided to include these colors into the tangible products on display (the cleaning products, paint cans).
Initial Sketches of Installation Layout