Project M, named for Samuel Mockbee of the Rural Studio at Auburn University and the State of Maine, is an international social design initiative committed to helping young designers use their skills to create positive change in the world.
RIT hosted a two-day Project M “design blitz” during which third and fourth-year students from all five disciplines of the School of Design in the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences (CIAS) participated. The goal was to find new ways to connect students on the suburban RIT campus with the people, places, wonders and challenges of the City of Rochester and propose solutions that were presented as videos to introduce their concepts. The two-day event was held at the Rochester Brainery in the city’s Village Gate. 38 School of Design junior and senior students participated, consisted of:
13 Graphic Design Students
1 Interior Design Student
13 Industrial Design Students
10 New Media Design Students and
1 3DDD Student
The Project M philosophy of “thinking wrong to do good” is a powerful and inspirational message for the newest generation of designers as they leave RIT and make their contributions in the world, Lorrie Frear said. The intense timeframe of the Design Blitz, combined with the rapid-fire thinking exercises and the challenge to “make it legendary” pushed students past the expected to creating exceptional and extraordinary solutions.
As the first interdisciplinary School of Design collaborative learning experience, Project M provided participants with the invaluable experience of learning from and with others and working together under a tight deadline to generate fresh ideas to solve real problems.
The energy and enthusiasm shown by all participants of this Design Blitz were infectious and inspirational. The process was exhausting yet invigorating, and the outcome was something of which all of us in the School of Design can be very proud! Kudos to one and all.
Ryan Clifford : “overall, there was a really inspiring sense of enthusiasm, matched by really fun, interesting personalities” among the RIT students.
“The students worked really effectively as teams and collaborators, but there was also a really fun social component to the experience,” “John and I are already hearing about teams that have continued to work together, and students that are now involved in incorporating methodologies from the blitz weekend into their design studios at RIT.
“I’d love to see them use the experience as a springboard for community building within the design school, as well as continue to work together to make a positive impact on campus. They were on fire during the blitz, and I’d love to see that momentum continue.”
The RIT Blitz had one of the highest levels of energy that I have seen from any school group. Unlike normal school assignments, the Blitz is completely driven by the participants. Teachers and advisors are there to facilitate but not direct the action. So, the success and learning potential depends entirely on the energy, passion and commitment of the student teams. The RIT group had a surprising and unprecedented collective enthusiasm from beginning to end. Maybe this was because of the chance to work across disciplines but I suspect that this was mostly a result of the extensive pre-Blitz preparation and anticipation building by Lorrie Frear and the RIT design faculty. It would be fantastic to see something like this built into the curriculum!
John Bielenberg, Founder, Project M
John Bielenberg is a graphic designer, entrepreneur and advocate for a better world. He is widely recognized for innovative investigations into the practice and understanding of design and leadership in the ‘design for good” movement.
John also teaches at the California College of the Arts, has an honorary doctorate in design from MICA, and has received over 250 design awards, including the 2013 AIGA Medal. In 2003 John created Project M, inspired by the late Samuel Mockbee and the The Rural Studio project at Auburn University. Project M is a program for creative individuals who want to contribute to the greater good, and who are looking for a platform to collaborate and generate ideas for projects bigger than themselves. Project M design blitzes have been conducted all around the US and the world, each designed around a real problem and objective.
Ryan Clifford, RIT Graphic Design Alumnus, BFA 2000
One of the many benefits of being a teacher is becoming friends and colleagues with former students. An alumnus of our undergraduate graphic design class of 2000, Ryan worked for General Motors and Buck and Pulleyn before joining our faculty as an Adjunct Instructor. Ryan received his MFA from Maryland Institute
College of Art (MICA) in 2009 where he serves on the faculty there and as an advisor to Project M.
Lorrie Frear, Associate Professor of Graphic Design
Throughout her teaching career, Lorrie has worked with and for many departments and schools within CIAS, other Colleges at RIT and other universities to create innovative and challenging collaborative learning experiences for students. In all of her courses, Lorrie places emphasis on creativity, curiosity, conceptual and critical thinking skills, individual challenge and growth and professionalism. Lorrie’s scholarship includes calligraphy and contemporary lettering, collaborative learning experiences and literacy. Her interests in design and the visual arts are diverse and eclectic and include calligraphy, community involvement, contemporary issues in design, contemporary lettering, packaging design and typography. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Lorrie serves on the Marketing Committee of Music is Art, a not-for-profit organization, is the Faculty Advisor to KEEP Rochester and the Hand Lettering Club, and is the co-advisor to the student chapter of AIGA. Prior to teaching at RIT, Lorrie was a designer in corporations, consultancies, design firms and an advertising agency. She has worked in Boston, San Francisco, Buffalo and Rochester. Lorrie currently creates personal greetings with her own company, Underwraps.
Lorrie has received several awards from the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences for outstanding contributions to teaching, scholarship and innovation: 2007 and 2011; The Irene Pfizenmaier Award for Excellence in Graphic Expression 2011; The Gitner Family Prize for Outstanding Contribution to Creative Pro Bono Work, shared with Assistant Professor Carol Fillip 2012; The Frank J. Romano Prize for Innovation in Publishing Entrepreneurship, shared with Professor Denis Defibaugh for the award-winning Positive/Negative Magazine, which is produced in Editorial Design.
Kelly M. Murdoch-Kitt, Assistant Professor of Graphic Design
Kelly Murdoch-Kitt is an Assistant Professor in the Graphic Design program at Rochester Institute of Technology’s College of Imaging Arts and Sciences. She teaches and works primarily in the areas of interaction and user experience design. Kelly’s graduate research explores theories of situated learning and experiential elements of virtual communities, and their impact on public-interest issues, which inform her current teaching and scholarship. Her recent collaborations exploring the socio-cultural benefits of technologically mediated cross-cultural design education; the advantages of teaching visual literacy concepts to students outside of Design disciplines; and the benefits of integrating sustainability challenges into project-based design courses.
Kelly recently presented papers at The 8th International Conference on Design and Emotion at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design in London, UK; The 2nd International Conference for Design Education Researchers in Oslo, Norway; and Just Sustainability at the Seattle University Center for Environmental Justice and Sustainability in Seattle, Washington, USA. Recent journal publications include “A Visual World Demands Design Sense: Advocating for Visual Communication Across the Curriculum” in The International Journal of Design Education, (co-authored with Dr. Kelly Norris Martin, 2013) and “Design Nexus: integrating cross-cultural learning experiences into graphic design education” in Studies in Material Thinking 11: Re/materialising Design Education Futures (co-authored with Prof. Denielle Emans, 2014).