Exhibit highlights 10 years of RIT Metaproject

James Paulius' Blockitecture was developed as part of Metaproject 03 and is now in production through Areaware.

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Metaproject, an annual studio course that pairs RIT Industrial Design BFA students with industry partners, RIT City Art Space is hosting an exhibition highlighting projects from the previous nine years.

The RIT Archive Collections loaned materials for the show, which will also feature a selection of unique installations based on projects that have gone into commercial and experiential production. In-progress elements of Metaproject’s 10th iteration, a collaboration with RIT’s Vignelli Center for Design Studies, will also be on display. Metaproject 10 will culminate in an exhibit during New York City Design Week in May of 2020. 

The exhibit is titled "Metaproject: Ten Years of Innovation."

“Looking back on a decade of projects, one gets a broad sense of how raw creativity can become industry innovation,” said John Aäsp, gallery director for RIT’s College of Art and Design. “We’re excited to host Metaproject at such an important milestone in its development, and to share it with the community of Rochester at our new venue downtown.” 

Trista Finch, a fourth-year graphic design student helping to organize the exhibition, said, “I’m honored to have the opportunity to help show the world what RIT design students are capable of. Putting together 10 years worth of this level of talent and creativity is both exciting and humbling.” 

The exhibition will open to the public on Friday, Oct. 4, with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. It will continue through RIT’s Brick City Homecoming and Family Weekend (Oct. 18-20) — an ideal time to reflect on the growing impact of Metaproject, engage with RIT’s creative community and celebrate the College of Art and Design’s reconnection to downtown Rochester through the new RIT City Art Space. 

About Metaproject

Each year, seniors in the Industrial Design BFA program are challenged to engage design thinking in a project prompted by the nature of an industry partner’s mission, products or services. Drawing from the “Design is One” philosophy embedded in the archives of RIT’s Vignelli Center for Design Studies, Metaproject aims to encourage students to produce design that is “semantically correct, syntactically correct, and pragmatically understandable, but also visually powerful, intellectually elegant and timeless.” 

Working with companies like Umbra, Areaware, Kikkerland and Poppin, the annual sponsors drive the project and then jury and honor outstanding student-developed designs. Each year, at least one project is collected by the RIT Archive Collections. 

A selection of projects has been moved into commercial production — in particular, James Paulius’s ​Blockitecture​, produced by Areaware and available in the Museum of Modern Art’s design store. ​Blockitecture ​encourages imaginative play while enhancing understanding of architectural and structural concepts through assembly of custom-painted wooden blocks in various configurations. 

Other projects include collaborations with the Corning Museum of Glass, Herman Miller, and Wilsonart. In 2017-18, students took on a unique version of Metaproject with Good Luck, a restaurant owned by Chuck Cerankosky ’03 (Industrial Design), where students designed a dining experience for invited guests. 

Most recently, students worked with Sesame Workshop’s vice president of brand creative, Theresa Fitzgerald ’84 (Graphic Design), to develop objects that respond to the urgency of play in contemporary life. The project was presented during New York City Design Week in May 2019. 

Sesame Street inspired umbrellas
Sumin-Petal Oh created a series of Sesame Street-inspired umbrellas, called Cloud Sweeper, for Metaproject 09.

Josh Owen, Industrial Design distinguished professor and undergraduate program director, has led the course since starting it a decade ago.

“This series has brought real-world challenges to the classroom,” Owen said. “Unique to RIT is our ability to share exemplars from our archival holdings to demonstrate the value of good design through world-renowned artifacts of process. Students are tasked to use their research and design thinking to create solutions that are essential for their education and maximize experiential learning. In many cases, these projects help jump start their careers.” 

About RIT City Art Space​ 

The College of Art and Design’s new exhibition and event venue in downtown Rochester, N.Y., is located inside the historic Sibley Tower Building at Liberty Pole Plaza. RIT City Art Space brings RIT’s creative community to the heart of downtown Rochester, where exhibitions, events and programming by RIT students, faculty, alumni and more are always rotating. Join its email list at cityartspace.rit.edu and follow on social media at @ritcityartspace.

Recommended News