RIT appoints inaugural Vignelli Center Designer in Residence

RZLBD (Reza Aliabadi) selected as the Vignelli Center Designer in Residence beginning January 2023

Elizabeth Lamark

RZLBD (Reza Aliabadi), the inaugural Vingelli Center Designer in Residence.

The Vignelli Center for Design Studies has appointed RZLBD (Reza Aliabadi) as the inaugural Vignelli Center Designer in Residence. This position was created to assist with an upcoming campus project to design and build a series of outdoor interactive exhibits tentatively titled the RIT Museumscape.

As the first Vignelli Center Designer in Residence, RZLBD will provide research, design, and development assistance for the RIT Museumscape, which was conceived as part of President David Munson’s vision for the future of the Rochester campus. RZLBD will work under the direction of Josh Owen, Vignelli Distinguished Professor of Design and director of the Vignelli Center.

“The RIT Strategic Plan calls for the design of an outdoor hands-on museum, with interactive exhibits distributed across our campus. These installations will embody RIT by illustrating the intersection of science and art. I am so pleased that Reza will be joining Josh in the Vignelli Center to help provide capable leadership and artistic vision to this important project,” said Munson.

When completed, the installations will be strategically positioned to encourage visitors to explore RIT’s campus. At each installation, visitors will engage in an exploration of a scientific, technological, artistic, cultural, or imaginative principle, all with an embedded element of play. Ultimately, visitors will be able to experience both the history of the region and the intersection of technology, the arts, and design. The first phase of the project will be heavily focused on research, but RZLBD and Owen share that students will be included in the future to help with the design and installation work.

“It’s an honor to be part of President Munson’s vision for such an unprecedented intervention, and, of course, to collaborate with Josh Owen to shape a framework to facilitate and realize this project,” said RZLBD. “Pedagogy is like a very long interwoven chain, and I am very excited to find myself among former and next generations, constantly exchanging experiences, thoughts, energy, and the like.”

RZLBD’s residency began in January 2023 and will last through the end of the project, which is estimated to be completed in about two years.

While his role will be primarily focused on the outdoor museum project, he will also serve as a Vignelli Center ambassador on campus, a role he is very familiar with. A passionate supporter of Lella and Massimo Vignelli, RZLBD has visited the Vignelli Center a number of times before accepting this position, including participating in a summer design workshop at the center in 2022 and as a speaker in the Vignelli Design Conversations series. He shared that he looks forward to spending a prolonged period of time on campus surrounded by the archives and fellow innovative minds.

“The Vignellis and their body of work have always been a great influence and inspiration. It will be a great opportunity delving into their world and breathing the air of their legacy. The residency on all levels — being in the building, looking at the permanent collection, and browsing the archive—will be a dream come true,” said RZLBD.

Based in Toronto, RZLBD is an architect and artist who works with a variety of mediums and art forms, including 3D objects and installations, drawings, paintings, and photography. His dedication to the Vignelli design ethos, as well as his passion about the intersection of art, design, and technology, are just two of the many reasons RZLBD was selected for this role.

“The Vignelli Center for Design Studies is a global beacon for design excellence and, as it stands, already attracts some of the most profound talent on our planet. When the Center’s archives are used as a resource for research and inspiration, their contents can inspire the greatest design minds, as the Vignellis liked to say, ‘to do better’ and inspire meaningful innovation,” said Owen. “Reza is an exceptionally talented artist and architect who has one foot firmly planted in the history of design and one extended into the future. I know he will help us to do great things,” said Owen.

For more information, visit the Vignelli Center for Design Studies website.

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