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Metaproject 02
Josh Owen and the Corning Museum of Glass challenge RIT students to explore the creative limits of glass
by Graham Hiemstra
on 23 May 2012
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While knowledge is commonly attributed to experience, fresh ideas often come from fresh minds. Taking this perspective to heart, veteran designer and educator Josh Owen developed Metaproject, an experimental industrial design course at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Now in its second year, the course is partnered with the Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG) to challenge students to think in new ways about glass as a creative material. As Metaproject 02 came to a close, the course recently culminated with a showing of select works during this year's NYC Design Week.

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"Glass is already playing a vital role in the future of industrial design as many 'futuristic' technologies are moving quickly towards mass-production," said Owen who also noted that besides innovations in architecture and mobile devices he's interested in the more immediate and rudimentary potential that glass holds. The course offeres a rare chance for his students to hunker down and design for two full terms, giving a glimpse into the professional world by seeing their designs grow iteratively from ideation to production. And by exploring with cast glass and recycled glass, many students showed a shared interest in designing for the future with a more immediate application in mind.

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August Kawski's "The Receiver" tackles the issue of social disconnectivity by way of technology. Kawski sees the heavyweight cast glass object as creating "a physical, visual and auditory barrier—a return to personal communication by freeing oneself from the responsibilities and burdens of the cell phone." By referencing the iconic Dreyfus phone as the object's handle Owen feels it "cements the object's semiotics, making a completely new typology strangely familiar and therefore more intuitive." Also one to challenge the idea of objects as mood altering devices, Dan Ipp also went a similar route with the "Illuminated Side Table." Here the glass tubes diffuse the light to create an ambient mood that welcomes the user to relax.

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For more information on the ever evolving Metaproject check the comprehensive RIT site—and keep an eye on Owen as well. To learn more about what the Corning Museum of Glass is up to in the near future swing by NYC's Governers Island this summer to visit the GlassLab, CMoG's glass design workshop and performance center.

Images by Elizabeth Lamark

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