italiaDesign is an 8-month field school program offered by Simon
Fraser University, where students research and experience Italy’s
rich design culture. italiaDesign field school is ran
bi-annually with a team of ~12 students directed by
I was fortunate to be part of the 2018 cohort to go through this experience.
Travel and Interviews
Within our 8-month study, we spent 2-months in Italy immersing
ourselves in the country’s history and culture. We traveled between
Rome, Milan, Florence, Bologna, Liguria, and a day trip to Switzerland
after visiting the Alessi factory. During our time in Milan, we got to
interview emerging and established Italian designers - ranging from
graphic design, type design, industrial design, and digital design.
Getting exposure to different disciplines have broadened my point of view
on design and deepened my interest in the practice.
My interviews: Sean Wolcott, a graphic designer who learned closely from Massimo Vignelli. Andrea Braccaloni, an Italian graphic and type designer who co-found design studio, Leftloft. Jekyll & Hyde, a design studio started by two friends that love the craft.
After our trip to Italy, we produced a series of short films and made a website to present them. I designed the website with Annette Cheung and Michael Lo while taking the lead to build the site. I played an essential role in the entire development of the website - from design direction, storytelling, user experience, visual design, and web development.
Visit website: 2018.sfuitaliadesign.com
We were able to share our interviews and a fraction of our experience
through the website, but the entire 8-month program in itself was a
very personal experience for each of us.
I enjoyed the weekly presentations and discussions we had in the first four months. We showed up every Friday to share research on Italian art and design history. We learned their food culture and other nuances that we wouldn't have learned on our own. We also took an Italian course as a team to learn the basics. Learning a new language is very hard, much respect to those who have.
The feeling to be in Italy after studying it in-depth on our laptops was unparalleled. Because we had done the research, we were able to appreciate the history and respect the culture throughout our trip. Though it's not just the in-field study - living and working with my peers for two months was a valuable experience that inspired self-reflection.
In hindsight, I sort of see this as my graduate project. We spent four months researching a subject and immersed ourselves in a foreign environment with that knowledge. We got to interact with local people and learn how design fits inside a particular context. The website was our opportunity to share what we learned from the past six months and have it documented like a time capsule.
All that to say, I learned a lot.
Shannon Boyd, Elizabeth Chan, Annette Cheung, Tobi Cheung, Sean Leach, Michael Lo, Sabrina Ng, Summer-Lee Schoenfeld, Mark Strathern, Sonia Yau, Rana Zokai, Russell Taylor (Field School Director)