I cannot believe that Plus3 is almost half over, but I am so excited for this week and all of the unforgettable days we have planned! We started today off by heading to the Nuova Accademia del Design (NAD) to listen to some of their representatives talk about what the university does and the sort of classes it offers its students. They have three main schools within their university: the School of Visual Design, the School of Fashion, and the School of Architecture. However the students may select classes between the different schools in order to concentrate in whatever they please.
One thing that was surprising was how each program is only 3 years long and is equivalent to a masters degree in America, yet many of their students come directly from high school. Many of their degrees are based on professional experience and development, which reminded me of many of America’s universities with coop programs, like Pitt. Although they are not the exact same programs in Italy and America, they are comparable because they emphasize the importance of sending into the world students equipped with all the skills and connections they need to be successful. In addition to this similarity, the representative explained to us how each lecture is recorded so students can watch them as many times as they please, a notion that reminded me of the “flipped classrooms” we have in America.
We were then able to see some sample projects that students were working on at that time, such as a blueprint for a store whose central theme was zen. As we first were going through it, it just seemed like a blueprint for a very cool store with an aesthetic interior that aligns with its main. However, as we kept looking through the design and each of its meticulous details, I started to realize all of the intense planning that was needed to create these intricate designs. If I learned only one thing today, its that interior design is an even mix of business and engineering, which is perfect for this trip! On the business side, a store must first entice a customer in by the storefront, then captivate the customer enough to prevent them from leaving, and finally display the products so that the store will get business from the customers. In the design regarding the zen store, there was a very pleasant storefront that had a screen on the outside displaying the products sold and some creative widow art to draw customers in. Then, on the inside, all of the products were displayed very aesthetically, which allowed customers to want to stay and check out the products. In addition, there was a cafe to further allure customers. On the engineering side, each part of the store has to be very assiduously put together and designed in CAD so that someone can execute this design perfectly. They must find out a perfect flow path that will allow for ease of the customers. Essentially, those working on the design must show exactly how they are going to build it, just as an engineer would. As an aspiring environmental engineer, I am positive I will be doing something quite similar to one of my designs in the future.
Another thing about NAD that stood out to me was how they allow their students to have full rights to the designs created in schools. I think it really shows how much they care about each student’s success, and it is an idea that all American universities should incorporate. If a student designs, for example, a hotel room for a contest or a project and a company actually likes and wants the design, the student who designed it can actually profit from it. In many universities in the US, the school is given the rights to the design, so the profits would go to the school and not the student.
After being enlightened about what it is like to be an Italian design student, we went to a company called Mero and More, whose building was very aesthetically pleasing. This is a small company that gives fashion designers a place to transform their designs from paper to fabric and sell them at a reasonable price. Obviously, there is a lot of competition in the fashion industry, but Mero and More has found a way to grow despite the changing market. As a small company, they can more easily adapt to the changing market and are more flexible.
In the supply chain, they are an in-between step on the production end that allows designers to enter their designs into CAD and use their industrial equipment to create patterns and prints in order to execute their design on an industrial level. This company is a service provider because it offers such services as design consulting, tailoring, and photoshooting among many others.
As we got to tour the building and stroll through aisles upon aisles of rolled fabric, the process that each designer undergoes became increasingly clear. A designer has an idea, draws a sketch, brings it to Mero, enters it into CAD, produces the cuts with the industrial equipment, sends it to other companies to be put together and packaged, and finally gives it back to Mero and More for a final quality control check. The company tries to grab the market in the middle of a season to be proactive for what will be in demand next, which is an easy task because they are a smaller company and can accommodate these changes easily.