This year The Corning Museum of Glass is collaborating with Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in a student design competition called Metaproject 02. RIT has asked us to act as an industrial client and material expert to give design students a better understanding of both and the process of navigating a client’s demands and the nature of glass. This two-semester project has grown to involve not only RIT’s Industrial Design (ID) students, but also the students of the RIT School of American Crafts Glass Program. We recognized early on the opportunity for trans-disciplinary cooperation between the two programs. This is an incredible opportunity for the design students to learn from the art students and the artists to learn from the designers. Students from both programs are participating in the two- semester course and competition.
I had the privilege of visiting RIT last week to have a look at what the students have been up to for their mid-term critique. Josh Owen, a faculty member of the ID department, is heading the project with the help of Michael Rogers and Robin Cass of the SAC Glass Program and Steve Gibbs of The Corning Museum of Glass. The students have been challenged to create a vessel for domestic use fabricated primarily from post consumer glass.
This is certainly no small task, especially considering the challenges of working with glass. It does require a unique approach, but one of the goals of this competition is to change perceptions about the possibilities of using glass. The glass students have empowered the design students to use glass creatively and have helped them to understand basic methods of forming glass – cutting, grinding, casting, etc.
One thing that really surprised me was that it was often difficult to determine if the project we were looking at in the critique was from a glass student or design student. I think this is a real testament to the success of the collaboration. Each student has taken a unique approach in their interpretation of the vessel and their approach to using recycled glass. Uninhibited by conventional understanding, many of the projects cover exciting new ground.
I am excited to see how the projects develop over the next months. It all wraps up in February with a final critique when a team from RIT and the Corning Museum of Glass will determine the five finalists and one winner. These students will have the opportunity to present their work this May in New York City during the International Contemporary Furniture Fair.