SASD students are spending the summer at international design exhibitions and getting professional experience by creating products for companies across the U.S.

Design classes at Shintaro Akatsu School of Design (SASD) at the University of Bridgeport aren’t currently in session, but a trio of industrial-design students is nonetheless spending a busy summer exhibiting their work at some of the profession’s largest competitions while honing their skills working for companies throughout the U.S.

Industrial design majors Ben Wisoff ’12, David Clarkin, and Rich Lubrano recently exhibited furniture they designed at SASD at the 25th annual International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF). Held at the Javits Convention Center in Manhattan a few weeks ago, the fair brands itself as the place “to map the newest frontier of what’s best and what’s next” in furniture design.

“ICFF is top tier, competing only with the Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan in April,” said SASD Director Richard Yelle. “Many exhibitors show at both. Turn-out is serious; this year, more than 500 exhibitors were analyzed by over 26,000 interior designers and architects, retailers, store design experts, and manufacturers. What we recognize as a popular look now could have sprouted from the floor of ICFF three or more years ago.”

The three also are gaining valuable experience through various internships and jobs.

Wisoff, who graduated in May, just began a new job designing medical equipment at Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics in Tarrytown, NY. A talented industrial design major who scooped up several prizes while at UB, Wisoff most recently won a Venice Projects scholarship to design and make glass stereo speakers with help from master glass craftsmen at the Berengo Studio in Murano, Italy. The Venice Projects scholarship was funded by Shintaro Akatsu, after whom SASD is named, in conjunction with the Adriano Berengo, owner of the Berengo Studio, Yelle said.

Lubrano, from Dix Hills, LI, is at Rock Tenn., designing packaging for, one of Rock Tenn’s clients. He will return to the consumer-packaging company in Bethel, CT, as an intern this fall, when he also begins his senior year at SASD.

In the interim, a wood-and-glass coffee table that Lubrano exhibited at the ICCF just qualified for the International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta, GA, which will be held a the end of August.

Lubrano credited the internship and competitions for radically changing his perspective about design. “Before I went to the Javitz Center, I didn’t know furniture was such a big deal. And when I started making the coffee table, I thought ‘This is fun.’ But when I got to the furniture fair, I was like, ‘There are a lot of people who are really into this, and they’re making beautiful, high-end stuff.’ So I’m trying really, really hard to be good at industrial design. I love it, and I’d like to start my own furniture company one day.”

Clarkin, who is from Rhode Island, is interning as a toy designer at Little Kids, Inc.
Media contact: Leslie Geary, (203) 576-4625,