03.05.08 NOTES: Daniel Cuffaro on "Innovations in Art and Design"

Submitted by Evelyn Kiefer on Wed, 03/09/2005 - 01:04.

Daniel Cuffaro, Chair of Industrial Design at the Cleveland Institute of Art needs to take his message to a wider audience. Though he drew a small and loyal group of CIA students who had not yet left for spring break at 10 a.m. Saturday morning, he seemed to be preaching to the converted. His upbeat presentation titled "Innovations in Art and Design" outlined his strategies for how industrial designers could be more successful in Cleveland and how Cleveland could find success through design - currently an under utilized resource here. Cuffaro believes we need not look outside our city for solutions to economic decline, that we have what we need right here.

He cites very seriously the example of Milan, another former manufacturing city that transformed itself into a design center, as what Cleveland could become. IKEA in Pittsburgh, which draws shoppers from all over the country, is evidence that people value design over low cost. So we don't need a super Walmart (an out of state chain store) where our steel mills used to be. Cuffaro also sees the much hyped House of Blues that recently opened downtown (another out-of-town concept) as a missed opportunity because designers trained right here in Cleveland are paid to invent similar concepts for other more daring cities.

Cuffaro knows Cleveland well. He is a 1991 CIA graduate who spent approximately 10 years working in Boston since graduation. He has returned to Cleveland because he sees potential here and perhaps a future for his two young sons who were important characters in his presentation. He speaks optimistically about the willingness of Cleveland leaders to embrace design and of the internships and jobs available to CIA students at local companies such as Rubbermaid, Little Tykes, Moen and Keithley Instruments. However, there are discrepancies in the City's support for young designers and design innovation. For instance, why is the CIA website permitted to be such a disservice to the School's students and why was this talk was not scheduled at a more prominent time and location? Cuffaro ideas are not just for CIA students, parents and faculty but for city leaders and developers. His talk deserves a replay at The City Club of Cleveland or some comparable venue.