Citys graphic design created these posters, top and bottom, to promote a modern concept of the Italian village. (Courtesy image)
City’s graphic design created these posters, top and bottom, to promote a modern concept of the Italian village. (Courtesy image)

Students redefine Italian towns’ image

Spring semester graphic design students at City College traveled cybernetically to Italy’s Tuscan countryside to help the hilltop township of Radicondoli retain its sense of community, and its people.

Tough economic opportunities have left the village with a population less than 1,000 and struggling to keep its citizens home. They have moved to larger cities in recent years in search of job options.

During an eight-week course called Travel by Design, students set out to give Radicondoli and its inhabitants a new identity without losing the town’s authenticity.

Local designer and part-time Radicondoli resident Ron Miriello initially proposed that students help the town through a variety of design projects.

City professors Candice Lopez and Sean Bacon supported his proposal through their class, with graphic design students communicating with the town’s residents via online conferencing.

In the beginning, the students and the residents had different ideas about how to reach the objective.

“With the branding, going into it, we were thinking it was more about making (Radicondoli) money, but they were thinking about making the town more of a community,” said Pamela Mabrey, one of the students who participated in the class.

Students took on various design projects to meet the town’s needs. With help of Miriello and the town’s acting mayor, the students were able to work with a real-world client.

“Ron gave me a book of vintage photography (of Radicondoli) to use for my poster, I knew it was authentic and helped me visualize how everything looked,” mentioned Alicia Lopez, another student participant.

Featuring music festival posters, farmers’ market packaging, a new website and outdoor signage, students created an array of options for Radicondoli to choose from – but with a modern twist in style.

Student Ariel Freaner designed font-type and digital aspects for the village.

“When we started the design process, some of us started with very classic and traditional (Italian) ideas and found out that they want to look more contemporary and modern,” Freaner said. “That was a challenge, at least for me, I had my mind set on the classical style and I switched it to something more contemporary.”

Without abandoning Radicondoli’s authenticity, the new cutting-edge branding designs are also serving another purpose.

Sebabatso Matseletsele, who designed greeting cards for Radicondoli, said the town’s unstable economy was making it hard to retain even its only doctor. So Matseletsele’s cards are to help fund the physician’s livelihood at the village.

Other students like Damian Luna were keen to make the town’s businesses and organizations they worked for feel they were getting equal support from City’s graphic design pupils.

The purpose was “not to over-represent one business more than another; show everybody equally as opposed to this business getting more attention than this other,” Luna expressed.

In the fall, Lopez and Miriello will be taking these design concepts and presenting them to Radicondoli’s residents, who will decide which ones will be implemented. Though students won’t have the chance to visit the charming Italian hilltop town it doesn’t prevent them from already picking something to do when they do get an opportunity to experience it for themselves

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Students redefine Italian towns’ image