Interdisciplinary Collaborations | SACI College of Art & Design Florence

Academics Interdisciplinary Collaborations

SACI Collaborations

SACI is extending the classroom into world-renowned museums, institutions, and industries in Italy with new collaborative initiatives in art and design.

Known around the world as the heart of the Renaissance, Florence, Italy, is a mix of old and new, traditional and contemporary. Florence’s layered, rich history embodies a moment that defined art as we know it, and its multicultural contemporary culture continues to inspire international artists, writers, and thinkers today.

SACI is at the center of this innovation. In US-accredited programs and courses merging individual artistic practice in a contemporary context with Florence’s rich and layered past, students choose from 68 courses ranging from Fresco Painting and Sculpture to Fashion Design and Digital Multimedia. Beyond the classroom, institutional collaborations and community outreach are the staples of SACI life and learning, and SACI’s new collaborations connect students with some of Italy’s most renowned museums, institutions, and industries. Propelling an already life-changing opportunity to new heights, these initiatives break down boundaries between art, design, fashion, anthropology, science, and history to develop independent and innovative artists with an unmatched knowledge and awareness of contemporary and historical culture in a rapidly changing world.

Download a copy of the SACI Collaborations brochure.

In addition to our collaborations with museums and institutions, SACI actively participates in city-wide dialogue with leaders in the field of education and innovation in Florence. In October 2020 panel discussions for Firenze Now!, a series hosted by the British Institute of Florence and launched with Florence Mayor Dario Nardella, SACI President Steven Brittan took part in discussions on the future of Florence concerning the knowledge economy, international education and research, and the challenges and opportunities in post-Covid Florence.

Learn more about the Firenze Now! discussions.

Without Limits Project

New Designs for Active Aging
(For students in Graphic Design and/or Fashion Design courses) 

Without Limits is an interdisciplinary design project for students enrolled in Graphic Design and/or Italian Fashion Design, developed in collaboration with Dainese's D-Air Lab. The project challenges students to rethink fashion while simultaneously integrating protective technologies for the aging population. Without Limits brings together theoretical and practical approaches through collective interdisciplinary problem-solving in a studio format with a human-centered approach to Design. Students are exposed to the research and development conducted by Dainese, and apply research, design, and entrepreneurial thinking to develop their ideas towards the realization of protective clothing for the elderly. 

This project takes place at SACI in Florence under the direction of Jessica Hayoz (Italian Fashion Design) and Camilla Torna (Graphic Design), with Dainese providing expert guidance throughout the semester. Thanks to a generous donation by the M.S. Worthington Foundation, SACI has created its own Creative Technology Lab, where instructors and experts guide students through complex problem-solving and innovating.

Download a copy of the Without Limits brochure.

View recent work by students in the Without Limits course at SACI. 

Video: Learn more about Dainese's interdisciplinary design process.

SACI MX: Designing the Museum Experience

In partnership with some of Florence’s most renowned museums, the SACI MX (Museum Experience) initiative allows students to partner with the Galleria dell’Accademia, Bargello Musei, La Specola, Museo del Tessuto, and Museo degli Innocenti to confront problems of mobility and information flow facing many museums today. In a collaborative and professionally-minded environment, students work with museum professionals to design brand identity and wayfinding solutions, paying particular attention to changing visitor needs and technological advancements. Project Based Learning gives SACI students real-life design experiences in conjunction with their design-oriented studios and workshops.

SACI MX: Brand Identity and Wayfinding
SACI MX students have the exclusive and unique opportunity to work side by side with the leadership and administrators of renowned Italian museums to improve the overarching visitor experience, designing print and digital promotional materials such as maps, brochures, merchandise, apps, websites, and logos. Through this ongoing collaboration, SACI MA in Art History students, along with SACI undergraduates in Museology, Graphic Design, Illustration, and Typography courses, acquire key skills in the field of cultural communication. The SACI experience promotes innovative design methods with an interdisciplinary approach.

SACI MX: Accessibility for the Blind and Partially Sighted in the Galleria dell'Accademia
Beyond brand management and wayfinding systems, SACI MX students tackle an even greater task: how to confront issues of accessibility and inclusion/inclusiveness within museums. The project is built upon the ideal that, as centers of culture, museums must serve the whole public by focusing on all kinds of visitors, including blind and partially sighted people.

In Spring 2017, SACI MX participants were tasked with jumpstarting this process at the Galleria dell’Accademia. Students thoroughly researched and evaluated various sections of the museum to create an immersive experience for partially sighted guests. Using alternative tours and directional systems, audio and tactile supplements, such as audio description pens and 3D resolution sculptures, and other approaches, the students developed interactive audio and sensorial paths. If implemented, these methods would offer enhanced museum visits to partially sighted visitors.

SACI MX: A History of Childhood 

During Fall 2019 term, SACI's Beginning/Intermediate Graphic Design class worked in collaboration with the Museo degli Innocenti in Florence, showcasing one of Italy's most extraordinary secular institutions: the Istituto degli Innocenti, which has worked uninterruptedly to help children and families from the beginning of the Fifteenth Century. 

A History of Childhood is the resulting infographic and merchandising design project about the concept of childhood. Students met with the Museum's director and experts from the Istituto and learned that for centuries children were considered just adults in miniature. The modern concept of “child," with a different world of its own, is only 200 years old. 

SACI MX: Liberty for Whom?

During Fall 2019 Term, SACI's Beginning/Intermediate Graphic Design and Museology students created virtual museum drafts on the idea of freedom and civil rights. "Liberty for Whom?" is a website design inspired by the exhibition Sisters in Liberty – which opened October 2, 2019 at Ellis Island, NYC – showcasing the relationship between Manhattan’s Statue of Liberty and Santa Croce’s The Liberty of Poetry monument. The exhibition prompted reflections upon human rights changes in the late 1800s and related contemporary issues, and started team research and a semester-long information design process on the topics of Press, Art & Censorship, Gender, Slavery (Then and Now), Immigration & Emigration.

Florence Biennale

In October 2019, SACI faculty members together with Graphic Design, Animation, and Interior Design students participated in the XIIth edition of the International Contemporary Art Biennal of Florence at the Fortezza da Basso. In collaboration with EarthDNA, Studio RF, and Anughea Studios, SACI presented an interactive project to provide insight into the data and resources that help us understand the complexity and challenges of climate change. An opportunity for visitors to immerse themselves and interact with the content that climate scientists are grappling with, SACI’s stand offered a way to visualize and understand environmental data showing the impact of global climate change in our everyday lives. SACI instructor, Roberto Fazio, and his Studio RF, won the 1st Prize Leonardo da Vinci International Award for the best installation in the technology and games category.

U.S. Consulate General Florence: Research, Publication, and Painting Restoration

In collaboration with the U.S. Consulate General Florence, SACI’s Art History Department developed and published a guidebook in both Italian and English for Palazzo Canevaro, the Consulate’s home in Florence. The collaboration was part of #Insieme200, a celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Consulate's establishment in the city and was an important contribution by SACI in providing a better understanding of a part of Italy’s rich cultural heritage. 

After extensive research beginning in the fall of 2018, SACI’s MA in Art History students, with instructors Maria Antonia Rinaldi and Alice Parri, produced the guidebook detailing the art, architecture, and history of the palazzo, which was presented at the Consulate’s Independence Day reception in 2019. The SACI Conservation Department, led by SACI instructors Dr. Roberta Lapucci, Nora Marosi, and Alice Parri, also collaborated with the Consulate to restore two paintingsStill Life and Landscape, which decorate the walls of Palazzo Canevaro and are part of the State Department Permanent Cultural Heritage Collection.

The cultural asset manager at the U.S. Department of State’s Overseas Buildings Operations in Rome worked with SACI on this collaboration, and arrangements are being made to have the students restore more paintings during future academic terms.

Ferragamo - Fashioning Spaces

Learning from Leaders of Italian High Fashion and Design
Fashioning Spaces, a SACI Fashion Design program developed in collaboration with the Ferragamo Foundation and Museum in Florence, opens doors to Italy’s unmatchable expertise in fashion and design. In 2017, the initiative centered around Ferragamo’s “1927 The Return to Italy,” a year-long exhibition celebrating the 90th anniversary of Salvatore Ferragamo’s return to his homeland. The program approached the Ferragamo exhibition strategy and implementation of “1927 The Return to Italy” as a case-study for effective storefront and museum display and design. Students learned from SACI’s faculty members in Fashion Design, Interior Design, Visual Design, and Museology, and the Director of the Ferragamo Museum, Dr. Stefania Ricci, how to develop their own team-based designs for possible pop-up installations in Ferragamo’s flagship stores.

View artwork from the 2017 Fashioning Spaces program.

In 2018, students worked in-house with Museo Salvatore Ferragamo designers, historians, curators, and video/multimedia experts on projects relating to the museum’s May 2018 "Italy in Hollywood" exhibition. Students had a unique opportunity to experience directly Museo Salvatore Ferragamo’s operations as they work with the museum’s administrators, who will provide guidance and act as clients. Multidisciplinary approaches were utilized to assist in the creation and curation of the museum’s exhibition.

The Pergola Theater: Restoration of Mural Paintings & Wooden Model

Since 2011, SACI Mural Conservation students have been restoring the mural paintings in the scenographer’s rooms at the Pergola Theater, considered the oldest opera house in Italy, having occupied the same site for more than 350 years. The Conservation department has also restored a wooden model of the theater’s entrance hall and three small wooden models for ballet scenography.

Conservatorio di Santa Maria degli Angeli

From 1996 to 2006, SACI students undertook a 10-year-long restoration project of the Baroque chapel of Santa Maria degli Angeli, severely damaged during the Florence flood of 1966. Students participated with professional restorers in the restoration of the mural paintings, the stuccoes, the altars, and the decorated and polychrome surfaces in the church— returning these beautiful works to their original splendor.

Wells of Wonders

SACI Archaeology and SACI MX Students Join with Florida State University to Exhibit Groundbreaking Archaeological Discoveries in Tuscany
The SACI Conservation Department and SACI MX participants completing an extensive collaboration for the exhibition “Wells of Wonders – New Discoveries from Cetamura del Chianti,” June 9 - September 30, 2017 at the National Archaeological Museum of Florence.

After a dramatic surge of discoveries between 2010-2016 at two well sites in Cetamura del Chianti, thousands of items were recovered and 300 were selected for the exhibition, which will celebrate 6 years of work by 100 SACI Conservation students in collaboration with professor and Etruscan scholar Dr. Nancy T. de Grummond from Florida State University. Throughout this important cultural and scientific undertaking, SACI students have conserved approximately 180 Etruscan, Roman, and Late Antique artifacts, dating between 3rd century BCE and 4th CE, using Italian approaches to clean, dry, reassemble, and reconstruct the artifacts for display.

SACI MX students have also designed the entirety of the show’s promotion and marketing materials, including design identity for banners, posters, animated invitations, and labels, created by Spring 2017 SACI Student Danielle Gorton, as well as informational signage, with the show’s exhibition panels created by Spring 2017 SACI Student Olivia Ellis. This crossover between the Conservation Department and the Design Department represents SACI’s ongoing goal to unite diverse fields to extend the impact of art and design.

Oggetti Politici / Political Objects

Responding to Contemporary Artists at Palazzo Strozzi
Continuing SACI’s tradition of collaboration with the Palazzo Strozzi Foundation, Florence’s leading foundation and museum for contemporary art, SACI students and faculty members work with the Education Department of the CCC Strozzina on diverse exhibitions. In response to current themes in contemporary art, students take part in city-wide dialogues with artists and scholars at multiple art and academic institutions. Students in SACI’s MFA in Studio Art and MFA in Photography programs took part in “Oggetti Politici/Political Objects” in response to “Ai Weiwei. Libero,” an exhibition of work by the controversial political artist Ai Weiwei. Following private viewings and participation in workshops related to the exhibition, students created their own political artworks for a final publication.

Body Archives

Creating Contemporary Art Through Historical Investigations
Proving that art is perhaps most valuable when it crosses into other fields, students in the Body Archives course respond to important themes in science, history, anthropology, and psychology to create engaging contemporary work for some of Florence’s oldest and most prestigious institutions. Students in this course regularly exhibit in the Museum of Anthropology and the Museum of Natural History, La Specola, and students pursuing Directed Independent Studies have the opportunity to conduct independent research within the museum archives.

Body Archives revolves around the representation of the body throughout history. Students in the course utilize the Biomedical Collection at Careggi Hospital in Florence, the Museum of Anthropology, the Museum of Natural History, La Specola, and more for their research. The Spring 2016 Body Archives course traveled to Vienna as part of a collaboration between SACI and Danube University Krems.

Download a copy of the SACI Collaborations brochure.

this page