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Students Study Fashion and Design in Italy

Date: Nov. 14, 2001
By: Keesha Nickison
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos by: Katie Boiano and Liz Swartzel
Archive: General News

Many UC fashion and industrial design students are "changed forever in many ways" as a result of their recent trip to Italy. For two weeks in September, the students "broadened their horizons and learned firsthand about the process of seeing trends in fashion and product design," said Margie Voelker-Ferrier, professor of fashion design.

From feeding pigeons in the square, to sipping cappuccino in a Venice caf‚, to sketching design ideas by the fountain, the students drank deeply of the rich culture that surrounded them in Italy. Kristy Boiano, a junior fashion student, said of the Italian lifestyle, "They take the time out to enjoy themselves. Italians have a traditional, rich lifestyle. They take pride in their culture." Left to right: Eric Saben, Kristy Boiano, Katie Boiano and Liz Swartzel

This rich cultural experience led the students to learn a great deal about themselves. Liz Swartzel, another junior fashion student, said, "I'm more worldly now. I feel more confident in a lot of ways." For Kristy and her twin sister Katie, the experience was a journey through their heritage. The girls' family came from an area in southern Italy. "Katie and I have always been inspired to go back to our roots," said Kristy. They were delighted to find that their last name, Boiano, is also the name of a city located between Naples and Rome.

Opportunities of discovery in the design world were ample in Italy as well. Through tours of the design studios of world renowned labels such as Salvatore Ferragamo, watching passersby, and shopping quaint boutiques, the fashion students were able to see the ingenuity in Italian fashion, and translate that style into their own designs.

"Italian fashion is more simple. Simple can be better," said Liz. Katie said, "Italian fashion is very classy. Everyone's so much more tastefully dressed." Kristy said the experience has "changed the way I design. My designs are much more sophisticated and luxurious."

Industrial design students also took advantage of the wealth of inspiration that surrounded them in Italy. Visiting the Domus Academy, a world-renowned industrial design center in Milan, was of particular relevance because it was founded with the specific goal of linking the disciplines of fashion and industrial design, paralleling the teaching philosophy of the trip.

Industrial design students also visited the town of Pisa, with its famous leaning tower, and Vinci, the hometown of Leonardo. Visits to the Alpha Romeo Museum and the Moto Guzzi Motorcycle Factory were especially exciting to those interested in transportation design. Scenes from Venice

"Overall, this trip changed the students' ideas about the possibilities in product design, broadened their perspective on the world, and added much to their personal cultural depth," said Dale Murray, assistant professor of industrial design and the faculty team leader for the industrial design group

"This trip has definitely changed my life forever," said Mark Britton, a junior industrial design student. "My eyes have really been opened to the world around me," said Suzanna Bachman, a senior in industrial design. "I pay more attention to detail and subtle differences. think this experience will help me create designs on a more global scale, which will make me more marketable in the design field," she said.

The trip was funded, in part by an Education Abroad Support Grant from the UC Institute for Global Studies and Affairs. Cynthia Lockhart, co-op faculty advisor for fashion design and product development/merchandising, said, "The course is very exciting. The many learning objectives of the course include discovering how to use cultural, historical and contemporary context for innovation in the design process." Murray said the course fills the gap in curriculum that exists in the classroom involving the spotting of trends and what is in style. Using European travel, students are able to examine how design is influenced by a fast paced society. Italian silk

"The exposure in the Italian culture and interaction between the two disciplines created a very exciting learning dynamic," said Lockhart. "Teaching moments happened in some of the most interesting places, such as shopping for trends in Florence, or on the train ride from Milan to Venice, or in the famous Ratti silk textile company in Como. There were so many opportunities for students to question, taste, and experience Italian design."

Professor Voelker-Ferrier is proud of the accomplishment her students feel as a result of their travels in Italy. She said of her direction of them, "You hold them gently in the palm of your hand and let them fly on their own. It's kind of like holding sand."

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