MARQUETTE, Mich.—Northern Michigan University’s human-centered design program has been invited to participate in the annual Salone Satellite, a juried show for student and emerging designers in Milan, Italy. Eighteen students will exhibit prototypes of their creative research to an international audience of media, manufacturers and design professionals April 12-17. Salone Satellite was introduced as a venue for young designers to complement the longstanding Salone Internazionale del Mobile (Milan International Furniture Fair). The latter showcases the work of established professionals who have teamed up with design-driven companies around the world to create new product lines. Salone Internazionale del Mobile is in its 50th year. It attracts nearly 400,000 visitors and, according to NMU Art and Design Professor Peter Pless, is regarded as the most important show in design. “It has transcended furniture to include a wide range of projects,” said Pless, who participated in Salone Satellite last year and will accompany his 300-level class to Italy. “This is an exclusive opportunity for Northern to gain international exposure and for students to present their research alongside revered design schools from around the world. The competitive nature of the event means our students will have one chance to make an impression on Milan. It’s an ideal learning experience because they are expected to produce exhibition-quality prototypes, design the layout of the space and coordinate logistical aspects. “The showcase allows manufacturers to consider designs for future production and supplies the international press with stories that can be published in design magazines or posted on relevant websites. Aside from the exposure, other benefits include the potential to attract more international and U.S. students to NMU and possible invitations to present students’ works internationally at other design shows and galleries. The students will be able to make contacts within the industry while setting a precedent for our program, the School of Art and Design and the university.” Student prototypes vary from seating and storage to lighting and messenger bags, but all address a common theme: “Transiessence.” Pless described this as a broad, speculative approach to design that promotes sustainability by challenging the typical “consume and dispose” product cycle. He said his students are creating pieces that change how people utilize and interact with objects, along with the emotional qualities those objects evoke. Only a select few design schools are invited to the Milan show. NMU joins the ranks of recent entries such as the Art Institute of Chicago, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Rhode Island School of Design.
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