A group of 11 warmhearted RISD students just arrived in Washington, DC to participate in the 2013 Alternative Spring Break (ASB). For most of the week, the dedicated volunteers will roll up their sleeves to work at some of the busiest homeless shelters and food pantries in the area, including Carpenter’s Shelter, S.O.M.E. (So Others Might Eat) and Food and Friends.
RISD’s philanthropists have a reputation for doing good work. Last year students taking part in the 2012 ASB stayed close to campus to renovate the interior of a historical synagogue that had been stripped by vandals.
According to Jia Lee 14 GD, the group decided to travel to the nation’s capitol this year to gain perspective on the city’s systemic cycle of poverty.
“Washington, DC has one of the largest homeless populations in the country,” Lee explains. “We thought that there was much we could learn there and then share with the larger Providence community.”
Students battle it out on a big screen during a recent Super Smash Brothers Tournament to raise funds for the DC trip.
The RISD community has shown an outpouring of support for the students’ mission. Campus bake sales and clothing drives raised over $1,000 that was used to defray travel costs, says Lee. “So many people have been donating their time and efforts to help us,” she notes. “It’s really touching.”
The group also held a recent fundraiser in the RISD Auditorium. In the darkened venue, more than 100 students brought their best video game skills to compete in a Super Smash Brothers Tournament. After a hard-fought battle, Jacob Reynolds 15 IL was named the winner.
“We wanted to host an event that would make the student body excited to join,” Lee explains. “And who here at RISD doesn’t get excited about Nintendo games?”
Stay tuned to read more about the students’ service trip to DC!
Last week Six Things: Sagmeister & Walsh, a new show focused on an ongoing project about happiness by Stefan Sagmeister and Jessica Walsh 08 GD, opened at The Jewish Museum in NYC. Just last spring, Sagmeister invited the über-talented young alum to become a partner in his NYC-based design firm.
The partners made a splash with the nude portrait of themselves they sent out to announce the birth of Sagmeister & Walsh, which is known for its smart, playful, tactile, existential and multidisciplinary approach to design.
Making the typographic film If I Don’t Ask I Won’t Get
As Walsh explains in this post, Sagmeister has been researching the nature of happiness for almost a decade, wondering: “Is it possible to train my mind in the same way I train my body?” In Six Things, the studio is presenting five short films and a sculpture investigating factors that contribute to his own happiness, namely:
- If I Don’t Ask I Won’t Get
- Keeping a Diary Supports Personal Development
- Be More Flexible
- It Is Pretty Much Impossible to Please Everybody
- Now Is Better
- Feel Others Feel
Given a recent nationwide survey that says Jews report the highest levels of well-being among all religious groups, Sagmeister & Walsh present their personal meditation on happiness along with some interesting supporting data.
Six Things continues at The Jewish Museum through August 4.
In 2012 Nick Felton 99 GD (aka Feltron) drank a grand total of one soda (ginger ale), 272 beers – mostly IPAs – and 1,484 glasses of water. How do we know? He kept track and is now telling us – in the latest edition of his annual Feltron Report, an obsessive, data-driven report about his personal life that he’s been publishing since 2005.
So who is Nick Felton and who cares what time he drinks coffee every morning? Maybe you don’t (it’s around 10:40), but Nick is an info-graphics specialist who’s intrigued by technology, data and how people live in a wired world. He has been recognized as one of the 50 most influential designers in America and last year earned the RISD Alumni Association’s Business of Design Award.
For his 2012 report, Felton partnered up with a friend to code an iPhone app called Reporter to simplify the process of recording every detail of his day-to-day life. Every 90 minutes, the app buzzes him to automatically record his coordinates and ask the same set of questions about what he’s doing and wearing, who he’s with, etc. If you’re just pining to keep stats on your own every move, Reporter is expected to go on sale later this year.
When Berlin-based conceptual artists Renata Stih and Frieder Schnock visit RISD on Thursday, they’ll talk about Messenger Art – including the role of memory and ambiguity in creating meaningful public works. You can catch the latest in the Graphic Design department’s terrific visiting designers series starting at 5 pm in the RISD Auditorium.
poster by Alyssa Winnans
Building on his other crowd-sourced poster campaigns (such as Design for Obama and 1200 Posters), Aaron Perry Zucker 09 GD recently co-founded The Gun Show, a growing collection of posters designed to promote gun safety and sold online.
poster by Aaron Perry-Zucker 09 GD
In this interview with Steven Heller, Aaron explains the motivation behind his latest activist effort. “Artists and designers joining the national dialogue on gun violence will help maintain the discussion and keep pressure on Congress to take action,” he says.
poster by Juana Medina 10 GD
More than anything, the Gun Show posters present “images and messages that are able to give voice to the mood and feeling of this post-Newtown push for gun control,” Aaron says. They represent “voices that by nature are not political or partisan, but real and authentic in a way that only art can be.”
Grad student Remeike Forbes MFA 14 GD got a shout-out in the New York Times a couple of weeks ago for his “sleek design” of Jacobin magazine and its accompanying website. The well-conceived and produced quarterly – which the Times calls an “improbable hit” that’s bringing “Marx to the mainstream” – is only up to issue #9, but is already making its mark.
In a great article explaining the genesis of the Jacobin identity, Remeike notes that “no image is truly neutral and attempting to dissolve a visual identity in the acid bath of high modernism isn’t a design solution.” He goes on to acknowledge that “some of the most powerful visual marks have been formal disasters. Take for example the clinched fist, perhaps the most prolific tool in the Left’s graphic arsenal. It’s messy and difficult to recognize at smaller scales – semantically, it can be beaten into a meaningless pulp through poor application, as it so often has – but as the Wisconsin fist proves (another hideous iteration of an already ugly form, but a brilliant one at that) it can still be powerful when done right.”
Remeike’s work for Jacobin is done through Position Studios, a two-person venture in Providence that has also produced such great stuff as HouseTab (an app for calculating shared expenses) and Fertile Underground (a local workers’ coop).
The other day Smart Planet put President John Maeda at the top of its list of 25 amazing people we talked to in 2012, citing their February 2012 interview with him on RISD’s STEM to STEAM initiative as being über inspiring.
RISD alum Katie Salen MFA 92 GD, the Institute of Play director who’s working to revitalize public education in the US through the incorporation of gaming, is also cited among Smart Planet’s top 25 interviews of 2012. You can check out the piece here.
Alison Berger 87 GL, an architect-turned-artist and designer, made the cover of the latest issue of American Craft – as one of eight artists featured in an article on The Craft of Design. “I see design as trend. Craft is about longevity,” she astutely observes in the piece. “The challenge becomes, how do you combine longevity with something that feels very current?”
Alison’s totally appealing Glass Stool is just one of many, many pieces that show her strong design sensibility and exquisite craftsmanship.
Master quilter Denyse Schmidt 92 GD, who took her love of design and making and turned it into the multifaceted brand and business known as Denyse Schmidt Quilts, is also featured in the same piece.
When talking about how she translated her one-of-a-kind handmade quilts into a sustainable model for “hands-on manufacturing,” as she calls it, she told American Craft: “My parents were engineers, so I have that mentality. When I design, I look for the whole process to make sense, start to finish. And each part is satisfying in its own right.”
A piece from the Jewel Box collection by Tracy Glover 88 GL also appears in the December/January issue, along with a comment from Seung Chan Lim MFA 11 GD responding to the question of what he’d want to be if he hadn’t pursued his current career (answer: a doctor).
Senior Critic Cyrus Highsmith 97 GD, a master typographer who teaches in the Graphic Design department, is helping to shape the future of fonts. When not teaching RISD’s beginner typographers, he works as a senior designer at Font Bureau, a leading typeface design studio based in Boston.
In November, the RISD alum also applied his expertise to judging the Latin Category of the Morisawa Type Design Competition, an international contest that receives hundreds of submissions from around the globe. “We seek to discover next generation designers and envision the possibilities of richer character design,” reads the competition’s website.
Morisawa, the world-renowned Japanese font developer, sponsors the contest every three years. In 2011 the company teamed up with RISD to launch a groundbreaking Research Fellowship Program that encourages graphic designers to incorporate design into everyday business practices.
Check out this story to read more about the exciting collaborations between the two organizations!
Airbnb, the popular lodging site cofounded by Joe Gebbia 05 ID/GD and Brian Chesky 04 ID, is providing some much-needed relief for weary New Yorkers still dealing with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy and yesterday’s follow-up Nor’easter.
Anyone who normally uses Airbnb to rent space in their homes or find nice lodging for cheap can offer up their digs for free to victims in need of shelter. So far, more than 4,000 guests have been given a roof over their heads.
But Airbnb feels much more can be done. “There are thousands more people in need of shelter,” they note on their blog. “And there are still thousands of people with extra space. It’s time to come together.”
To steel herself for tonight’s marathon of election coverage, Kelsey Lim 14 GD completed all her homework assignments days ahead of schedule.
“I’m really excited, and nervous. It’s the Superbowl of the election,” gushes Lim, the co-founder of RISD Votes.
Last spring the graphic designer started the pro-politics push with fellow Graphic Design major Keela Potter 14 GD. Since then the team has been hard at work to make sure their fellow students uphold one of the most basic American rights and privileges.
But tonight the RISD Votes team can take a bit of a back seat. Starting at 8 pm, students are invited to the Tap Room to watch the presidential battle royal. And edible offerings from Chipotle will be there free of charge. Students with any political affiliation are warmly welcome, Lim says.
“Politics has this stigma – young people think it’s boring. But watching [the presidential coverage] can be a fun, a social activity,” Lim believes. “It’s a community event.”
Take a stroll through campus to see the latest RISD Votes posters. They’re works of art!