Industrial Design


Charlie Cannon

Charlie Cannon joined the Industrial Design Department full-time in 2009. Prior to that he spent twelve years as a part-time member of the faculties of Landscape Architecture and Industrial Design, with forays into Architecture and Graduate Studies. Charlie has been nominated for RISD’s Frazier Teaching Award three times. He is also a Co-Principal Investigator for Rhode Island’s National Science Foundation Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), a $20 million investigation of the impact of climate change on marine life.

In the Industrial Design Department, Charlie teaches core studios in the graduate program and seminars and courses focused on sustainable design and design for social innovation in the undergraduate program – including the advanced elective Innovation Studio.

Professional Practice 
Charlie’s professional life as a designer has been quite varied. He has worked as a builder and carpenter, co-founded two award-winning architecture practices, developed web strategies and software interfaces for a Forbes 50 company and a successful Boston-based start-up, exhibited his studio art and studio furniture, designed books for faculty at Harvard University and created visual arguments for Rhode Island policy makers. He is currently focused on bringing design and design thinking to strategy and social innovation as the Chief Learning Officer for EPIC Decade a purpose-driven strategy and innovation initiative.

The Innovation Studio
The Innovation Studio brings students from across the college to work on the intractable problems of our day. In the fourteen years since its founding, the Studio has examined what design can do to reduce carbon emissions, how design thinking can reshape the world’s foremost school of sustainable agriculture, how design capital can be used as an agent for rural economic development. It has also explored how economic development can be used as tool for ecological regeneration.

Academic research/ areas of interest

Charlie’s topical research interests include: sustainability, urbanism and social innovation, education and social change.