This year’s keynote speaker is design visionary Bruce Mau. In addition, RISD is presenting honorary degrees to Todd Oldham and Jean Kennedy Smith, and the Alumni Award for Professional Achievement to Hildegard Vásquez BArch 94. Student speakers are Jordan Taylor MFA 14 CR and Leah Chung BFA 14 ID.
An innovator, designer and author, BRUCE MAU is the founder of Massive Change Network, a strategic business consultancy in Chicago dedicated to promoting the power of design as a holistic global change agent. His 25 years of achievement through design thinking include collaborations with Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, MoMA, Herman Miller, Shaw Industries, The New Meadowlands Stadium and Arizona State University, along with countries such as Denmark, Guatemala and Saudi Arabia. From 1985–2009 Mau served as creative director of Bruce Mau Design, a multidisciplinary design studio still based in Toronto. He is the author and designer of several award-winning books, including Massive Change; Life Style; S, M , L, XL (in collaboration with architect Rem Koolhaas) and the iconic and celebrated ZONE BOOKS series. Translated into 17 languages, The Incomplete Manifesto for Growth presents Mau’s personal philosophy and design strategies.
Known for his unique sense of color, extravagant details and fun, lighthearted approach, TODD OLDHAM has influenced many areas of art and design in the three decades since he started out as a fashion designer. The founder of Todd Oldham Studio in New York City is known for everything from film directing and photography to furniture, graphic, interior, exhibition and product design. A noted author and editor of more than 22 books, Oldham has produced monographs on artists Charley Harper, Wayne White, Alexander Girard and John Waters, among others, and this fall he will release monographs on illustrator Ed Emberley and photographer Gerald Davis. Since 2009 his Kid Made Modern art and craft book for young artists has inspired the All About how-to series for creative kids along with a collection of art supplies for children. In 2008 Oldham’s Place/Space series included Home Studio Home – an edition on the unfettered creativity he found when photographing the way selected RISD students live.
JEAN KENNEDY SMITH, a former US Ambassador to Ireland (1993–98) who served under President Bill Clinton, played a key role in the peace process in Northern Ireland and has long been an advocate for art as a catalyst for health, empowerment and equity. For the last half century she has served as a trustee of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Boston, where she is now an honorary member of the board. In 1974 Smith founded VSA (formerly known as Very Special Arts), the well-known international organization dedicated to providing people with disabilities with increased access to the arts and education. Her 1993 book Chronicles of Courage: Very Special Artists, written in collaboration with George Plimpton, points to the underlying the principles behind the VSA and the impact it has had around the world. In 2012 President Barack Obama awarded Ambassador Smith the Presidential Medal of Freedom in recognition of her lifelong commitment to public service, peace and social justice.
Born and based in Panama, architect HILDEGARD VASQUEZ BArch 94 is being honored with the 2014 Alumni Award for her extraordinary work in helping to revitalize the historic heart of Panama City. Since establishing her practice Hache Uve in 1998, she has used architecture as a catalyst for social change, infusing new life into the urban core of Panama City through a thoughtful approach to renovation and renewal and the people it’s designed to serve. Now that she’s returning to campus to collect her award, Vásquez is pleased to recall how RISD helped her develop the capacity to think things through and take everything to the next level. “I keep returning to those concepts,” she says. “They serve the way I practice architecture and the way I lead my foundation.”
JORDAN TAYLOR MFA 14 CR, this year’s Graduate Student Speaker, grew up as a Quaker in the Midwest and did his undergraduate work at Earlham College in Richmond, IN. Before coming to RISD, he ran his own studio in rural Pennsylvania, where he made functional, wood-fired ceramics using indigenous clays and glaze materials. For his thesis work, he investigated ceramics as a revolutionary act in the form an architecturally scaled public art proposal for downtown Providence, RI.
LEAH CHUNG BFA 14 ID, the 2014 Undergraduate Student Speaker, works at the intersection of international development and design strategy. She has done extensive fieldwork and research on the visual and aesthetic representation of Africa in western media, and has lately been fascinated by the relationship between web icons, Google search images and stereotypes. In her spare time, she likes to play the vuvuzela and back it up to Beyoncé tunes with her incredible housemates.