italiaDesign is an undergraduate field school and research program offered by the School of Interactive Arts + Technology (SIAT), under the directorship of Russell Taylor, Senior Lecturer in Design, SIAT since 2004. italiaDesign seeks to contribute back to the Italian community.

The most significant contribution to the field are the interviews conducted each year in Italy with industry-leading designers, architects and design manufacturers. Over the eight years, italiaDesign has conducted over 120 of these interviews with Italy’s emergent and established players in the design community. Each year, a new team builds on the previous year’s research. italiaDesign is an open source network that values above all knowledge-share on a global scale. In 2011, we began a complementary program, dutchDesign to study design in the North of Europe to compare the two cultures, and the two programs now run in alternate years.

Field School Director: Russell Taylor <>

Project website from 2012:


The program consists of three courses totalling nine SFU units. All instruction will be in English.

IAT 391-3: Italy Design History

The first course of four is taught in Vancouver five weeks prior to departure for Italy. Students prepare research plans for use once they arrive at each of four destinations (Rome, Tuscany, Florence, Milan). The course covers histories of city planning, architecture and urban design in these venues that live on in contemporary Italian design. Field school instruction is in three phases: (1) Vancouver: methodology and preparatory research work; (2) field study on-site in Italy, and upon return to Vancouver; (3) synthesis and writing-up of research and final arguments. This course fulfils the first phase. All projects will be available for viewing at the italiaDesign Field School public website. Students will also present their work to a live audience. 

IAT 392-­3: Italy Design-Learn from La Citta

Field school instruction is in three phases: (1) Vancouver: methodology and preparatory research work; (2) field study on-site in Italy, and upon return to Vancouver; (3) synthesis and writing-up of research and final arguments. This course fulfils one half of phase 2 fieldwork in Italy. Student work is primarily in Rome and the hill towns of Tuscany and Florence. It requires using design and social science field methodologies to organize observations made of daily life and its expression in cultural patterns. Pattern "languages" provide a taxonomy, linking prior scholarship to student field work. This work in turn provides historical roots to understanding contemporary Italian design and design industry.

IAT 393-­3: Interaction Design Workshop I 

Involves a sequential series of projects based on field studies in Florence and Milan. Students are required to examine and interpret the impact of design on Italian life and culture in each designated centre. The field studies are supported by a series of in-situ lectures to provide a context for further reflection. Minor independent projects are completed in Florence and Milan followed by a major collaborative project focusing on an interpretation and reflection of the impact of design on life in Italy. 


The program will run from April 25 to June 22, 2014. 

*These dates are provided as guidelines and are subject to change.

Costs and Funding

*Tuition (9 units) $1,534.50
Program fees $6,378.37
Total cost (estimated) $7,912.87 

* Differential tuition fees are charged for international students.

Program fees include:

    Shared accommodation          Some group meals
    In-country transportation
         Field trips
   Pre-departure orientation, in-field/re-entry support

Program fees do not include the cost of international airfare, independent travel, inoculations, or mandatory insurance. Program costs quoted in Canadian dollars are approximate, and may vary subject to exchange rates, travel, and accommodation cost quotations.

Students must pay tuition and program fees directly to SFU Student Services by the due date as outlined in the SFU calendar.

Students participating in SFU field schools are eligible to apply for student loans. SFU students may also apply for bursaries, scholarships, awards, and International Exchange/Field School Bursaries.


italiaDesign applicants must meet the following requirements to participate:

  • Must be 19 years of age or older prior to departure
  • Have completed a minimum of 30 units of university courses
  • Have a minimum 2.5 CGPA
  • An Italian language course must be completed
  • Consent of the Field School Director

Please note, priority registration for SIAT majors, with 3rd year level experience in Design (including IAT336/337/338). SIAT students who have completed or are completing IAT 338 do not need to submit a reference letter.

For more information on eligibility for non-SFU students, please see the Application page.

Information Sessions

No further sessions scheduled.


Application Status: Closed
Application Deadline: Friday, December 6, 2013 at 4:00PM

Note: For people with (physical or mental) medical conditions, international travel can present severe challenges. Because SFU field schools take place in international locations where emergency services, and/or mental or physical support services may be limited, or non-existent, some field school placements will not be appropriate for everyone. Please speak with the program's Field School Director for information on specific conditions for this field school.

If you have a medical condition that poses limitations on your ability to function in certain environments, we strongly advise that you register with the SFU Centre for Students with Disabilities (CSD). CSD staff will ask that you provide documentation from a duly-qualified medical specialist, which contains a diagnosis and a treatment plan.

Where appropriate, CSD staff will communicate with field school staff with regard to accommodation in the field. Please note that, while CSD staff indicate to field school staff that a prospective participant requires accommodation for a medical condition, they do not disclose the nature of the medical condition.

Because overseas arrangements can be complicated, we recommend that you contact the CSD at least three months prior to the commencement of the field school in which you wish to participate. Please note that failure to make proper arrangements in advance of travel could result in termination from the field school with costs and academic credit forfeited.