JWU Connects to Design Community at Design Week RI

When you think about Rhode Island, you might think small, right? If you aren’t from here, you might even think of “lobsters and mobsters.” Or the classic “it’s part of New York, isn’t it?”

But the truth is, there’s a lot more to this little state than people realize.

For starters, Rhode Island has become a hub for innovation and design. The RI design community has not only grown exponentially in size, but has also grown stronger. This is largely because of DESIGNxRI, an organization that invests in RI designers by offering programs, workshops, support and events that celebrate the local design community and help them grow their business and expand their professional network.


DESIGNxRI’s recent report revealed that Rhode Island has the third largest percentage of creative sector jobs per capita in the U.S., and the third most industrial designers per capita. And the proverbial headquarters of Rhode Island’s design community is Providence (aka JWU’s backyard).

Design Week Takes Over Providence
Last week was Design Week RI, a DESIGNxRI event that attracts designers from all over the state to Providence for a week of parties, events and workshops that celebrate every aspect of design. It’s a multi-day event that is the first of its kind, and it gives JWU students the chance to attend the presentations, meet designers and network for potential job opportunities after graduation.

“As JWU Design grows their partnerships with organizations like DESIGNxRI, having our students and alumni participate in these events only strengthens these connections,” said Deana Marzocchi, an associate professor and department chair in the College of Engineering & Design. “These events give our students exposure to the design community in Providence and reinforce our program outcomes, giving our students an advantage that is uniquely Providence. What’s better than that?”

"These events give our students exposure to the design community in Providence."

Indeed, there isn’t much better than that. Especially when our alumni are participating in these events as professional designers.

From student to designer: A JWU alum enjoys Design Week
Haley Cwynar ’17 is a graphic designer at Carrie Chatterson Studio (CC:S), located in North Kingstown, RI. During Design Week she went to events, did a social media takeover for DESIGNxRI in the CC:S studio and watched her boss, Carrie Chatterson, present at the Marathon Clambake Event. 

JWU Providence student Haley stands by a display of her work at JWU’s Design Showcase.


“I feel extremely lucky to be where I am in such a short time,” Cwynar said. “I have my dream job. I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing — designing and working with awesome clients.”   

"I have my dream job."

She attributes much of her success to the professors she had at JWU, adding that her greatest mentor was Deana Marzocchi.

“All of the professors really answered my questions and helped push me to be the best I could be. They gave me the opportunity to expand on projects and get the most out of each class I took. On top of that, there were also great internship opportunities and classes that gave you real world design experience. All of that is the reason I am where I am now.”

These days, Cwynar works with numerous clients such as the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Dorothea Dix Park and Parrish Art Museum. She loves the work environment that CC:S offers, and she gets to make designs that matter.

Design work sample: Invitation for the Parrish Museum


DESIGNxRI and JWU: The Future of Design in Rhode Island
As DESIGNxRI continues to support the growth of the Rhode Island design community, JWU continues to provide new and changing programs to meet the demands of the design industry. JWU students and alumni are taking advantage of both, and they’re now among the biggest contributors to the local design community. The future looks bright for design in Rhode Island, and it’s happening right here.