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Design + Process | Coral Reef Window Displays

Eileen Umba

Hi! Eileen here and I'm the display coordinator at Cinder and Salt. It's my job to work with Rachel to create unique window and in-store displays that make our shop beautiful and help continue our eco-friendly ideals.

Here at Cinder + Salt we’ve been striving to reach a goal at the shop to produce zero waste out of our facility. This challenge has influenced all of our work and our in-store display in particular. For our summer windows we decided to create coral reefs out of only recycled materials!

Back in January we started a collection bin area for the community to bring in waste that isn't normally recycled at the curb; like food packaging, shipping pouches, bottle caps,etc... This "trash" became the materials from which our reefs are made. Here’s a little peak into our journey.

I drew so much from researching living coral reefs, here are a few types that really sparked my creativity :

After testing out the materials we had collected over the past few months, it was time to start building a base for the reef. We hand-print all our product in our shop and that means a good amount of tape and paper from the printing process was being produced, instead of throwing away these sticky and ink-covered scraps, we put them to use! The basic structure of the base is a few cardboard boxes that are then covered with our waste from printing, then layered in recycled brown paper for consistency; a strong organic rock shape is born... TA DA!

Now it was time for the fun part. The whole staff pitched in over the course of several weeks to create many of the coral species that had inspired us and many more that the discarded materials inspired. We even held a workshop on Earth Day for our customers to come try their hand at making some!


We crafted Lettuce Coral from silk screens that came loose from the frames (above), as well as ink-covered rags (below)

Giant Clams were crafted from large pieces of cardboard and packing materials (above).Tubular Coral is made with old plastic shipping pouches that many of our materials arrive in. We also fashioned similar structures using old vellum sheets and paint drop-cloths.

Brain Coral was assembled using hundreds of packing peanuts in various colors.

Sun Coral specimens were crafted from toilet paper tubes that we dipped in paint and cut with scissors (above and below).

Laslty, Branch Coral started as twigs we found outside by our loading dock that we painted in bright tropical hues. For added color and shapes, we used t-shirt scraps and an old pool float (below).

After making over 18 reefs of varying sizes it was time to install them in the windows and around the stores. Come stop by our Middletown or Canton location to see them up close for yourself! But hurry in; we're already working on new fall windows and these reefs will be hibernating indoors for the winter.



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