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New Grad Moves on to Facebook

06/24/2014

Fascinated by the way things work, Daniel Giuditta 14 GD focused his senior degree project on the hidden structures of digital operating systems.

Two days into a summer internship at The Daily Beast, Daniel Giuditta 14 GD found himself in the middle of a media maelstrom. The New York City newsroom staff had just learned that founder and editor-in-chief Tina Brown resigned after her company sold Newsweek to IBT Media. In the midst of the chaos, the graphic designer decided to develop an easy-to-use mobile app for the publication’s site that now garners more than 17 million hits each month.

“I created a modular design where all The Daily Beast content could be accessed with simple thumb gestures,” explains Giuditta. “While you’re holding your phone in one hand you simply scroll though a list of stories. If one catches your interest, you tap it with your thumb and it expands to reveal its content.”

Though the app has yet to be launched, Giuditta’s tech-savvy ambition didn’t go unnoticed. In considering his work at RISD’s Design Portfolio Review last fall, representatives from Facebook took note of the wireframe for his Daily Beast app, among other standouts in his portfolio, and after chatting at length about the art of human-machine interaction, promised him a full-time position after graduation.

In September the native of Middlebury, CT will move to the San Francisco Bay Area to start working with the product designers who manage Facebook’s newsfeed, messaging systems and up-and-coming features. “I really liked meeting with the team,” the new graduate notes. “They were really warm and share the same values as the other artists and designers I know. Sometimes things just click.”

At RISD Giuditta became increasingly interested in understanding the hidden structures of digital operating systems. For his senior degree project, he dug through the source files of common applications like OSX and Photobooth, systematically collaging all the graphical user interface (UI) elements together. The experiment led to a cartoonish animation that reminds him of “computer vomit” or “software guts,” as he puts it.

“The project didn’t have a practical application,” Giuditta admits. “It was just to illuminate the hidden structures behind the things we use and hopefully spark curiosity in the viewer so that the next time they’re on a website – or using a piece of household software – they’ll start asking themselves how it’s working.”

Despite his major in Graphic Design, Giuditta didn't spend all his time at RISD glued to a glowing computer screen. During his senior year, he was elected Communications Director of the undergraduate Student Alliance, becoming part of a five-person executive committee that functions as a link between the student body and the administration. To promote the organization’s weekly meetings, he created a series of eye-catching posters that stood out among a sea of information that gets posted around campus.

“My decision to join [the Student Alliance] came out of the same impulse as my degree project or much of my self-guided projects,” explains Giuditta. “I wanted to see how RISD operates, so the Student Alliance seemed like a good opportunity to observe those inner machinations.”

Interestingly, Giuditta owes much of his academic development to the traditional bookmaking skills he acquired in Type II, a required studio for sophomores in Graphic Design. During an assignment in which Critic Benjamin Shaykin MFA 11 GD asked the class to typeset the fantasy classic Alice in Wonderland, he decided to incorporate the visual elements of software into the printed pages – a move that proved to be a liberating breakthrough in his approach.

“After a semester of struggling and trying to follow the rules – and banging my head against the wall – I just started listening to my own instincts,” notes Giuditta. “Ever since then I've continued to be intensely fascinated by the interfaces that facilitate our interactions with the tools we use on a daily basis – and the way that symbols and icons mediate our personal experiences.”

–Abigail Crocker

related links:
•   Student Alliance
•   Recruiting RISD Talent
•   The Daily Beast
•   Facebook


tags: alumni, technology, digital, entrepreneurship, global, innovation, Graphic Design, students

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The men in this 1903 portrait class were serious about the business at hand.