Italy: Endemic & Endogenous Design Explorations

This 3-week course will be set in North-West Italy, specifically around the Cinque Terre region, a unique natural environment contained between the Mediterranean Sea and the Apennine mountains where farmers for centuries have challenged the landscape to strive and cultivate their lands. The peculiarity of the place will expose students to the complex relationships between nature and people who domesticated steep cliffs to farm olive trees and grapevines thanks to human ingenuity and expert craftsmanship.

This course has reached full capacity. Please contact the RISD Global office if you wish to be added to a waitlist.

At-A-Glance

What
Global Summer Studies
Where
  • Florence, Italy
  • Vernazza, Italy
  • Carrara, Italy
  • Bologna, Italy
When
Summer 2022

Course Dates: Jun 11, 2022 — Jul 1, 2022

Who
Open to

2.5 GPA required. Non-RISD participants see eligibility requirements below.

Topics
  • Sustainability
  • Cultural Ecology
  • Anthropology
Faculty
Academic Credits
3
Department
  • Industrial Design
Cost
$4890

Includes tuition, accommodation, studio space, in-country transportation, field trips, entrance fees, some group meals and international travel health insurance.

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Italy: Endemic Endogenous Design Explorations
2022
Italy: Endemic Endogenous Design Explorations
2022
Italy: Endemic Endogenous Design Explorations
2022

About this Travel Course

Course Description

Starting from a culture studies theoretical framework, in which anthropology intertwine with artifacts’ social life, this course will investigate the possibility to think of designed objects as a direct and pure representation of humans’ activities (endogenous), and/or rooted in specific geographical and cultural contexts (=endemic). The course will be set in North-West Italy, specifically around the Cinque Terre region, a unique natural environment contained between the Mediterranean Sea and the Apennine mountains where farmers for centuries have challenged the landscape to strive and cultivate their lands. The peculiarity of the place will expose students to the complex relationships between nature and people who domesticated steep cliffs to farm olive trees and grapevines thanks to human ingenuity and expert craftsmanship. Through notions of circular economy and material innovation, students will learn and analyze the local context and develop endogenous product ideas that will adopt local resources and processes to serve specific endemic needs. The will to foster a more sustainable approach to products and services is at the core of this class that will merge more theoretical contents, such as anthropology or biology, with hands-on activities such as DIY bioplastics or dry walls construction. The use of a biological framework is motivated by the idea that a sort of Lex Naturalis (Natural Law), intended here in its secular exception, should drive design decisions in a way to create as little friction as possible between natural environments and human activities.

Course Objectives

  • Exposing students to sustainable design practices and methods.
  • Learning about the use and optimization of local resources
  • Creating products respecting and valorizing culture and tradition
  • Reflect on products’ life cycle and environmental footprint

Learning Outcomes + Assignments

  • Learn design research methods and anthropological observation
  • Learn the marble extraction and production cycle
  • Learn the leather tanning and production process
  • Understand endemic and endogenous design methods
  • Understand circular economy and design
  • Explore and understand bio-materials and DIY bioplastic technics
  • Explore and understand viticulture and winemaking processes and tools

Housing

To participate in RISD Global Summer Studies, all students are required to stay in RISD- provided housing for the duration of the course. Students will be accommodated in double/triple occupancy rooms with shared bathrooms.

Background Information

Cinque Terre

The Cinque Terre, Italian for “five lands/towns”, is a string of five fishing villages perched high on the Italian Riviera in the region Liguria, which until recently were linked only by mule tracks and accessible only by rail or water. An ancient system of footpaths is still the best way to visit the five villages: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The district, part of the Cinque Terre National Park and Marine Protected Area, represent one of the most pristine and renowned Mediterranean natural wonders. This is due to mainly historical and geomorphological reasons that have prevented an excessive building expansion and the construction of further main roads. The activities practiced by man for centuries, and especially viticulture, have contributed to creating a unique landscape in the world, named since 1997 UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Endemic & Endogenous

To facilitate the passage from a design’s problematic past to a brighter responsible future and switch to a better and more sustainable scale-weight paradigm, we should look at the biological terms endogenous and endemic as principles for just design practices. Endemic generically defines something “native”; in the case of diseases, for instance, is about their persistence in a particular geographical area or human population while spices can refer to their unique presence in one region and nowhere else in the world. The term Endogenous, which is generally defined as “from within”, describes what is produced or found within living organisms like, for example, hormones, genes or viruses but it can also refer to the specific characteristic of a place as far as topography, climate or geography.

In the world of materials for design, in the last 10 years, there has been the birth of practices that have favored the development of materials that we could also describe as endemic and endogenous. In fact, the DIY-Materials, defined as the self-produced materials of the designers themselves for reasons linked to the sustainability of the solution and for the research for innovation, can be consistent with the best and most sustainable scale-weight- time paradigm. Often the DIY ingredients, which are then the object of experimentation and tinkering of the self-production approach, are endemic because they persist in a particular geographical area. Self-produced materials are also endogenous because the specific characteristics of a place influence their development in terms of topography, climate or geography.

Eligibility

RISD Students

If your current cumulative GPA is 2.5 or above, you are eligible for registration. If your current cumulative GPA is lower than 2.5, you must first contact the Registrar at registrar@risd.edu to seek exception to this academic policy.

Non-RISD Participants

If you are a college student currently enrolled in another art/design college or institution around the world, or a professional practicing in the field, you are eligible for registration. We will collect a recommendation/support form from your institution/workplace.

In order to register for RISD Global summer studies, you are expected to have a high level of English (speech, writing, and comprehension) as all coursework and critique is delivered in English.

Attendance Policy

Global Summer Studies are three weeks long and take place in June/July, and you are required to attend all program activities scheduled during the travel course. RISD Global Summer Studies comply with RISD class attendance policy. In case of unexcused or multiple absences, you may be removed from the course, given a grade of “W" (withdrawal) or a grade of “F” (fail).

Withdrawal Policy

Requesting to withdraw from a RISD off-campus global learning program, including RISD Global Summer Studies, prior to the start of the course is highly discouraged and requires a formal process outlined in the RISD course withdrawal policy. It is not possible for a student to drop a RISD Global Summer Studies travel course via the standard Add/Drop process after it has commenced. In the case of unforeseen and extenuating circumstances (and only after students have spoken with the faculty lead and RISD Global for approval to withdraw from the program), students should be aware that no refund will be issued.

More Info

In order to reserve a seat, a non-refundable deposit of $500 is required at the time of application submittal. Students will have until April 1, 2022, to submit full payment. Students that fail to make full payment by their deadline will forfeit their $500 deposit and their seat in the course. New application submissions starting April 1 are not eligible to make a deposit and must make full payment by April 15, 2022.

All RISD students enrolled in RISD and other full degree schools/universities are required to remain in good academic standing in order to participate in Global Summer Studies. A minimum GPA of 2.5 is required for all RISD students. Failure to remain in good academic standing can lead to removal from the course, either before or during the course.

In cases where summer travel courses and studios do not reach full capacity, the course may be canceled after the last day of registration. As such, all students are advised not to purchase flights for participation in Global Summer Studies courses until the course is confirmed.

Apply to Global Summer Studies

The deadline for Global Summer Studies 2022 has now passed.

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Have questions? The RISD Global team is available to meet for a 1:1 advising session. We can give you more information about your study options, help you figure out which program makes sense for you, and assist you with the application process.

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