RISD’s pedagogical framework of Critical Making invites students to nurture a project from conception to fruition, engaging in research, critical discourse, conceptual development and hands-on explorations of materials, crafts, and industrial processes. This model allows for continual touch points along the route to reconsider ideas of sourcing, equity, social value, meaningful utility, heritage, personal expression, and object making and manufacturing’s role in social and ecological harmony. This hands-on approach of experimenting with materials at full scale results in an embodied wisdom that grows and expands with every project and throughout a lifetime of practice.
The intangible yet essential value of Critical Making is that this deliberate care and intention is imbued in each project. Whether it is a one-of-a-kind artistic expression, social design or design for commerce and industry, the emotional, intellectual, physical, and creative labor of the designer informs the very DNA of each project, and the resulting objects carry the potential for a future that envisions the values and practical realities of a thriving, just, and harmonious world.
Bill Carroll dust chair
MFA 2023 FD
Grace Elwood Low Caned Lounge
BFA 2022 FD
The Low Caned Lounge combines beach chair dimensions with the sensibilities of well-crafted wood furniture and the allure of caning to create a chair that provides temporary rest below the plane of everyday life. It straddles the line between indoor and outdoor furniture, rendering it a versatile design that can be imagined in countless spaces to encourage slowing down. The form references the practice of caning, as the elements extend outwards as if part of an infinite grid.
Jan Rybczynski I-Beam Bookshelf
BFA 2023 FD
I-beam Bookshelf was inspired by the idea of changing the visual quality of a line, through the inherent strength of steel and the fluidity of welding and fabricating metal structures. Through a study of the process surrounding this idea, Jan worked out a method for creating this I-beam-esque line quality in steel. With further exploration, he constructed a solid frame structure within this visual language which exploits the strength of welding and the grinders’ ability to hide those welds. All of this was done in pursuit of a piece of furniture that is void of the visual artifacts of production, allowing the line quality to stand on its own as a building block in three dimensional space.
Amelia Greteman Blue Girl & Extruded Side Tables
MFA 2022 FD
Derived from solid poplar and finished with milk paint, Blue Girl translates the idea of a chair into four pieces: two legs, one back, and a seat. The integrity of the simple construction mirrors the childhood blocks that inspired the project.
Holding an elemental and monolithic quality, the Extruded Side Tables act as an extension to the Blue Girl project. The block-like forms are blown up in scale and provide a surface for an experimental paper maché mixture, which adds an ambiguity to the recognizable forms.
Madeleine Young 90° Stove
BFA 2023 FD
90° Stove is a wood burning stove emerging out of an interest in the tensions between fast and slow energy processes. The object itself is the physical realization of a planar drawing, resulting in a mysterious axonometric discomfort when encountering the piece from front and ¾ views. The contour lines of the piece, including the non-conformers, continually refer back to a square relationship with each other.
Spenser Atlas Hole Punch
MFA 2023 FD
Imagined as paper cutouts arranged into forms that resemble a chair and a side table, Hole Punch aims to surprise and trouble our understanding of useful objects. The pieces combine baltic birch plywood and laminate to create the illusion of a drawing represented in three-dimensions.
Theju Nimmagadda Pulley System
BFA 2023 FD
Pulley System is a saddle seat designed around diagrams of pulleys and gears in motion. It is made entirely up of birch veneer and wood glue, with no hardware used in its construction. Wood is transformed into forms it could never articulate naturally through bent lamination. Pulley System demonstrates this through its systematic construction around hollow cylinders replicating the cylindrical nature of the trunk while simultaneously being so removed from the raw material it is made of. This organic material is transformed into an extremely accurate form, replicating the preciseness a scientific diagram presents when distilling a natural, irregular process into its most essential elements.
Sam Northcut Cynthia's Garden
BFA 2023 FD, PR
Cynthia’s Garden is a quilt top of handmade dyed kozo and gampi paper that explores the idea of inherited friendship and platonic love. Through the color choices, this quilt top shows two distinct bodies, earthly and celestial, that represent the artist’s mother and her friend. Their love for each other is materialized as this object, which can continue to be passed on for generations. In loving memory of Cynthia Campbell Brown, a gift of a friend.
Anna Dawson Swell Wall Hooks
MFA 2022 FD
The Swell Wall Hooks display our most used items. A place to hang our coats and hats, to leave our keys and wallets occasionally. The fiberglass prototype is a part of a busy and involved life beyond the home. The hooks’ formal aspects are inspired by soft swells perfect for a long surf and ventilation ducting found poking out of industrial buildings.
Louise Ferlet Metal Lounge
BFA 2022 FD
Metal Lounge is an ergonomically inviting chair. Its triangular backrest comes in snug between the shoulder blades to counteract the habitual computer posture. The backrest reclines to the weight of your upper body with no threatening feeling of material snapping. The gap between the seat and backrest lets the tailbone springback without constraints. It has an opposite tapper on the seat, getting wider as you sit back, making it look smaller but feel bigger. Suitable for both indoors and outdoors, Metal Lounge offers you a dynamic break.
Isabel Yang Vessels of Spring
BFA 2023 FD
These ceramic vessels are an exploration of a single slip casted module. Hand building and hand manipulation methods were used in conjunction with the slip-casting process in order to create a cohesive body of work while conserving each vessel’s distinctiveness. The casted cove arm was derived from a dreamt form and became the building block for Vessels of Spring.
Aydan Huseynli 15 West in the Canal
BFA 2024 FD
15 West in the Canal is a rug-hooked and needle punched image of the Fleet Library, in Providence, RI, observed as it is reflected in the water of the canal.
Rhode Island School of Design's mission, through its college and museum, is to educate students and the public in the creation and appreciation of works of art and design, to discover and transmit knowledge and to make lasting contributions to a global society through critical thinking, scholarship and innovation. The college’s strategic plan NEXT: RISD 2020–2027 sets an ambitious vision for educating students for the future and bringing creative practices to bear on the creation of just societies, a sustainable planet and new ways of making and knowing. RISD’s immersive model of art and design education, which emphasizes critical making through studio-based learning and robust study in the liberal arts, prepares students to intervene in the critical challenges of our time. Working with exceptional faculty and in extraordinary specialized facilities, 2,500 students from 68 countries engage in 44 full-time bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. RISD’s 31,000 alumni worldwide testify to the impact of this model of education, exemplifying the vital role artists and designers play in today’s society. Founded in 1877, RISD (pronounced “RIZ-dee”) and the RISD Museum help make Providence, RI among the most culturally active and creative cities in the region. Find more information at risd.edu.
Students in the Department of Furniture Design at RISD embark on a course of study encompassing theory, skills, context, research and professional practices. Drawing from a rich tradition, they are encouraged to experiment and work with a wide range of emerging materials and technologies, developing individual voices through the process of making. The program emphasizes the principles and practice of furniture design as well as the social value of art, design and responsible citizenship.
organized and directed by faculty Amy Devers, Sara Ossana and Meg Callahan
graphic design by Casey Callahan
photography by Erik Gould