Campus: CSU Long Beach -- April 12, 2004

California State University, Long Beach Design Students, Faculty Travel to Milan Furniture Faire as Part of Cortona Design Retreat

Four students from the Industrial Design Program at California State University, Long Beach are spending the next two weeks in Italy and will be taking part in the Milan Furniture Faire as part of the first-ever Cortona Design Retreat.

Joseph Ricchio, a 1980 CSULB industrial design graduate and owner of Ricchio Design in Seal Beach, has created the annual retreat in an effort to share his 23 years of design, furniture and Italian cultural experience with current and future design students at Cal State Long Beach.

Design students Amanda Starr Monteleone, Jerry Van Rooy and Yoon Kim of Long Beach and Kit Mok of Los Angeles were selected to make the trip, which is being led by Mike Kammermeyer, a faculty member in the CSULB Design Department, and Ricchio.

The Cortona Design Retreat is intended to provide a select group of undergraduate industrial design majors with the opportunity to experience Italian culture and its influence upon design.

"The students will live and work for two weeks with peers, faculty and professional designers," Kammermeyer explained before departing on the trip. "The experience will be a blend of the traditional and the contemporary, including visits to monasteries, churches, museums, galleries, craft centers, factories, design offices and retail outlets as well as the Milan Furniture Faire."

The Milan Furniture Faire is a major world exhibit, Kammermeyer pointed out. "The Furniture Faire draws more international attendance than the exhibits in Hamburg, Cologne and Chicago and has the added benefit of galleries and monasteries. The goal of this trip is as much cultural as it is educational."

Matt Duncan, a 1983 graduate of CSULB and owner of Morphix Design in San Clemente, is also participating in guiding the students through their two-week Italian experience. Duncan, an active member of the Design Department's alumni, is a recent part-time CSULB faculty member and a frequent guest critic.

The group departed this past weekend (April 10) and will return April 25 to prepare a public exhibit of their furniture designs at CSULB May 20-28.

"The students will arrive in Florence and move into an old farm house in the hills overlooking Cortona," Kammermeyer said. "They will travel to Milan to attend the Furniture Faire and show their designs to the Milanese designers and furniture makers. They then return to Cortona for 10 days of review, critiques and development.”

Ricchio believes the Italian connection will enhance the students’ life experience. "This is a chance for students to see the side of art that goes into furniture design," said the owner of Ricchio Design, which has been designing contract furniture for 15 years.

"The Italians have a whole different sense of what furniture is about, which is as much to do with art and beauty as profit. CSULB is a pragmatic school that has always been aware of cost and production concerns. This is a chance for the students to discard their computer-aided design for a little while and work with pencil and paper."

Van Rooy, president of CSULB’s Design Student Association, said he was pleased to be among the majors selected to attend the retreat. "From both a design and furniture perspective, Italy is an example to the world and I'm eager to learn more about it,” he noted. “If I'm going to design furniture, it makes sense to learn about Italian design. If I can get their approval, it will tell me when I graduate in May 2004 that I really achieved something."

Funding for the retreat was received from such furniture manufacturers as Arcadia, ICF, Knoll International and Peter Pepper Products. Additional contributions were received from Brian Graham Design, Atlantic, Hot Door, John Caldwell Design, Morphix Design, Ricchio Design, Richard Holbrook Design and CSULB alumnus Debra George.

Media Contacts: Rick Gloady, 562/985-5454 or Shayne Schroeder, 562/985-1727

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