RISD x Hyundai Motor Group Partnership Continues to Produce Compelling Research

PROVIDENCE, RI, June 27, 2023 – Hyundai Motor Group (the Group) and Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) today announced the latest phase of work in the RISD x Hyundai Motor Group Research Collaborative, a multiyear partnership exploring the relationship between nature, art and design.

Now in its fourth year, the partnership brings together RISD faculty members and student researchers who are helping the Group investigate mutuality, the future of spaces and sustainability strategies under the theme of ‘Collaborative Future Living.

This partnership was available via two courses: Coexistence in Crisis, led by Architecture faculty member Leeland McPhail, and Future Spaces and Autonomous Vehicles, led by Patty Johnson, an associate professor in RISD’s Furniture Design department. The two endeavors offered different perspectives and technological tools to explore sustainability at a variety of scales and scopes, from the interpersonal to the global. One class investigated the future of autonomous vehicles, focusing on organic interiors and energy management solutions, and the other considered non-extractive methods and materials for the construction of shelters integrated within the landscape.

In his role as Hyundai Motor Group Biological Programs Fellow, artist and ecologist Dr. Felipe Shibuya co-taught both sponsored courses. This new format brings biodesign processes employed by students to a new level, drawing attention to many critical questions regarding future spaces, mutuality, coexistence in crisis and nature-inspired design. The courses offer different perspectives and technological tools to explore sustainability under a common framework of shared workshops, critiques, readings and guest lectures, exploring a variety of scales and scopes — from interpersonal to global spatial relationships and dynamics.

Students in both studios were mentored by Jennifer Bissonnette, director of RISD’s Edna W. Lawrence Nature Lab, and HMG Biology Programs Fellow Felipe Shibuya, who co-taught both classes. Bissonnette provided support on biodesign topics, including biomimicry, biomaterials and biosystems applications, and Shibuya’s hands-on contributions drew attention to such critical questions as coexistence in crisis and nature-inspired design.

“The future of research lies in the dynamic collaboration between industry leaders like Hyundai Motor Group and Rhode Island School of Design,” says Provost Anais Missakian 84 TX. “Together, we ignite a powerful synergy that transcends traditional boundaries, blending nature, technology and creativity.”

Students, Karim Ismail MADE 23, Ty Ko 23 ID and Anna (Yu Jung) Jung 23 GD, for example, developed a system informed by the structure of pine cones that creates customizable air circulation patterns. They demoed a surface treatment for walls using Arduino technology that could be controlled by the user to regulate the airflow within a vehicle or living space. “We see the unit being part of a larger ecosystem that also includes lighting and windows,” the team explained.

Bissonnette described the project as “a great use of biophilic concepts,” and Johnson noted that the team’s ability to collaborate contributed to the project’s success. “I really cannot overstate how much I’ve learned from all of you this semester,” she added.

This summer, 12 of the students will continue to work with Johnson and McPhail for eight weeks, in parallel with six sustainability fellows from Hyundai and Kia. RISD’s Nature Lab will also host a group of 15 Hyundai and Kia designers and engineers for a one-week intensive on biomimicry.

“We’re excited to see where the research goes from here,” says Missakian. “Through alliances like this one, groundbreaking ideas are born, pushing the boundaries of innovation and shaping a future where art and science converge for the betterment of society.”

High-resolution images, videos and other artifacts of this project are available for download here.

About Hyundai Motor Group

Hyundai Motor Group is a global enterprise that has created a value chain based on mobility, steel, and construction, as well as logistics, finance, IT, and service. With about 250,000 employees worldwide, the Group’s mobility brands include Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis. Armed with creative thinking, cooperative communication and the will to take on any challenges, we strive to create a better future for all. For more information about Hyundai Motor Group, please see: www.hyundaimotorgroup.com

About Rhode Island School of Design
RISD (pronounced “RIZ-dee”) is a creative community founded in 1877 in Providence, Rhode Island. Today, we enroll 2,620 students hailing from 59 countries. Led by a committed faculty, they are engaged in 44 full-time bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and supported by a worldwide network of over 31,000 alumni who demonstrate the vital role artists and designers play in today’s society. Beyond facts and figures, what is the spirit of this community? Through a cross-disciplinary curriculum of studio-based learning and rigorous study in the liberal arts, RISD students are encouraged to develop their own personal creative processes, but they are united by one guiding principle: in order to create, one must question. In cultivating expansive and elastic thinking, RISD seeks to activate a critical exchange that empowers artists, designers and scholars to generate and challenge the ideas that shape our world. RISD’s mission, at both the college and museum, is not only to educate students and the public in the creation and appreciation of works of art and design, but to transmit that knowledge and make global contributions. For more information visit risd.edu.

RISD Strategic Partnerships sustains the school’s culture of inquiry by offering a platform for research initiatives; providing opportunities for programming, training and publication; and encouraging collaboration among students and faculty. RISD recognizes that discovery and experimentation are critical for meaningful work in the arts and for realizing the significance of art and design in the world. The institution’s focus on fine arts, design and liberal arts, the excellence of its faculty and student body, and its compact size all facilitate diverse types of research and partnership that contribute new insight and advance practice through exploration of materials, techniques, contexts and ideas.

Media Contacts:

Michelle DiLello
Partner, Blue Medium, Inc.

Jaime Marland
Senior Director, PR / Rhode Island School of Design