One in a series of posts on the summer 2011 Arts Abroad programs, this dispatch reports on the Masters Workshop: Design History, Theory and Practice in Venice and Rome, led by MFA Design Department Co-chair Lita Talarico and BFA Advertising and Graphic Design Department faculty member Louise Fili.
The capstone project of the Venice leg of the Masters Workshop in Design History, Theory and Practice is to design a guidebook to one aspect of the city’s visual culture, and for the occasion the Fondazione Claudio Buziol opened its doors to SVA. One of the satellite exhibition venues for the 54th Biennale di Venezia, the Fondazione is housed an 18th-century palazzo located in the Dorsoduro neighborhood that was recently renovated and re-opened after 100 years. It is here that students set up an impromptu studio and meet with faculty member Louise Fili to discuss their progress and chart a course around Venice in search of just the right type specimen, photograph or other visual artifact.
The Fondazione offers views of the Grand Canal and the landmark Santa Maria della Salute that would challenge even the most seasoned designer’s focus, and yet there is a continual buzz of activity as students work on logos, page layouts and type specimens. “You’re going to an SVA workshop, so you expect a certain level of intensity,” explained Brynley Farr, a designer from Columbia, South Carolina. “We’re all perfectionists, so we’re not going to stop until we get it done.”
Another student, New York-based designer Rahviance Robinson, said that working side by side with other designers had made her aware of old habits and opened her up to new ways of doing things. “I came in to the program with the mindset of ‘What do I have to unlearn?’ I completely unplugged from everything at home, because I wanted to take this time to really focus on my craft.”
Just a sampling of the projects reveals the designers’ wide range of experiences and interests, from an exploration of the color red around Venice and study of “flow” inspired by the canals to a series of dingbats based on Venetian architecture.
Images: (top) the Fondazione Claudio Buziol; (middle) the view onto the Grand Canal; (bottom) the impromptu studio for the Masters Workshop.