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Destination Milano!


A hanging light made of terracotta flowerpots, modular shelving fashioned from recycled plastic chairs, a combination room-divider and desk built from felt and three-dimensional wallpaper made from the petals of a fan are among the prototypes RISD students are presenting on the international stage this week as part of Salone Internazionale del Mobile, the internationally renowned design and furniture fair in Milan, Italy. Interior Architecture students are presenting their work at the Salone Satellite, an area of the fair dedicated to emerging designers, while Furniture Design students are showing their work at Ventura Lambrate, one of the many related exhibition spaces in Milan.

IA Milan students 

“The fair is an opportunity for students to show and speak about their work in a public arena with hundreds of thousands of visitors,” says Assistant Professor of Interior Architecture Eduardo Duarte, who worked with master’s students to prepare for the exhibition. “Salone Satellite is where visitors go to see what the new design trends are,” he adds, noting that influential curator Marva Griffin organized this important venue for young designers this year.

Assistant Professor of Furniture Design Lothar Windels BID 96 agrees that going to Milan is a very valuable experience for RISD students. “It is a door-opener to their career,” he says. “Alumni will go on to exhibit in Milan on their own.” Located in a renovated factory, Ventura Lambrate is “one of the newer, less-established venues,” he says, adding that it’s appropriately “a bit edgy.”

Works on view from both departments focus on remaking ordinary objects into extraordinary creations with entirely new functions. The eight Furniture Design students showing in Milan – mostly seniors and graduate students – used “iconic, disposable items” to create their products, “transforming low-cost everyday items into objects with high perceived value,” as Windels puts it. Faculty members in the department selected the strongest work for Transformations, the collection being shown in Milan.

Eleven graduate students in Interior Architecture also “re-purposed” familiar objects to create pieces with new functions. In their designs “the known object was lost and a new one emerged,” Duarte explains. Students in the studio worked collaboratively in groups of two or three to create the final five pieces being presented in Prototyping the Domestic Environment. 

Each year approximately 2,500 companies from throughout the world come together at the furniture fair, which is attended by 270,000 visitors from 150 countries. An additional 700 young designers show at the Salone Satellite.

related links:
Furniture Design’s Transformations collection
Interior Architecture’s Prototyping the Domestic Environment collection
Salone Internazionale del Mobile
Ventura Projects  

tags: adaptive reuse, Furniture Design, global, Graduate Studies, Interior Architecture, students

Providence's riverfront park offers a great setting for drawing and sketching, just across from RISD's Mandle Center for
Living and Learning.