Courtesy of Erik Gould
RISD exhibit for Milan 2024

Rhode Island School of Design Presents Objects May Shift at Salone del Mobile 2024

March 20, 2024
The student-designed and produced exhibition for SaloneSatellite in Milan, the result of an intensive studio course, is RISD’s first-ever global multidisciplinary presentation of work.

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) will present "Objects May Shift" at SaloneSatellite (booth A10) from April 16–21 in Milan, Italy. For the first time in its history, RISD united students from various departments, guided collaboratively by Fine Arts and Architecture & Design faculty, to conceptualize and design a multidisciplinary exhibition about our changing connection with and perception of the domestic interior for this global platform.

Anais Missakian (Pevaroff-Cohn Family endowed chair in Textiles) and Pete Oyler (associate professor, Furniture Design) co-led the "Objects May Shift" exhibition that emerged from an intensive studio course named Topics in Exhibition. The inaugural Topics in Exhibition course functioned as a collective endeavor, served as a platform for group critique, curatorial exploration and idea generator, an expression of a single thematic concept across mediums and a workshop to refine the material and visual concepts. Twenty RISD students across seven disciplines (Ceramics, Furniture Design, Glass, Graphic Design, Industrial Design, Interior Architecture, and Textiles) worked in three teams to create the exhibition’s conceptual framework, graphic design and display.

Prompted to reimagine the norm and find a surprise in the unexpected, Objects May Shift challenged students’ curiosities and required a thought-provoking journey in the shifting landscape of our world and how we engage with it. From graphic design to art, furniture and textiles, the exhibition champions a spirit of creative evolution and transgresses disciplinary boundaries. Students experimented with the limits of scale, form and perspective; an upholstered chair transformed into a wall; a cabinet is repurposed from a dresser; a Jacquard tapestry interweaves AI-generated graphics with images of wealth, hoarding and trash. Collectively, it is imaginative, optimistic and sobering as we are asked to think boldly, perceive beyond the surface, and contemplate future possibilities.

“Our goal is to bring RISD expertise to the table and create a performative display that represents the institution as a whole, focusing on the collective versus the individual,” said Missakian. “When artists and designers with unique and deep disciplinary knowledge work collaboratively, complex questions arise, transcending singular fields–and the possibilities are endless.”

“Art and design exhibitions have a long history of proposing new ways of living and of understanding our material, built world,” added Oyler. “As our world changes, artists and designers are working together to imagine new possibilities from our unique disciplinary vantage points. This student-designed exhibition, 'Objects May Shift,' is a celebration of that disciplinary rigor and collaborative vision.”

“This is an incredible opportunity for RISD students and faculty to demonstrate, on a world stage, the benefits of the kind of cross-disciplinary education we prioritize,” noted RISD President Crystal Williams. “Given the role of art and design in helping us shape and understand the world and our role in it, we are thrilled to provide opportunities that allow students to gain practical experience in designing the future we will all live in.”

Learn more about the course and the making of the exhibition. 

For a directory of all RISD participation in Milan and Venice in April, visit

And if you attend the exhibit, please tag us in your photos and reels!

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