September 25, 2012

Steinway & Sons and Rhode Island School of Design collaborate to explore new art case piano designs

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and Steinway & Sons join together this fall in a partnered research studio in which students will develop innovative new case designs for the leading piano manufacturer.

These new designs will challenge pre-conceived aesthetic notions of conventional pianos, while respecting Steinway’s iconic brand and acoustics. Each will be considered for a coveted Limited Edition or one of a kind Art Case selection, executed and sold by Steinway.

Students kick off the semester with a field trip to the Steinway factory in Long Island City, NY to establish an understanding of the unique construction methods used in the creation of a Steinway piano. After this trip, students will use a range of relevant architectural interiors as the inspiration for at least three different custom piano concepts, in drawings and sketch models.

“The main challenge we’re presenting students with is to modify specific parts of the piano in order to make a strong statement, but at the same time respectfully integrate established elements that the customer associates with a sophisticated Steinway & Sons piano,” said Steinway & Sons President Ron Losby. “In collaborating with RISD, we look forward to seeing innovative designs that embody the quality, craftsmanship and rich historic processes that are symbolic of the Steinway brand, infused with new forward-thinking ideas for a variety of modern aesthetic tastes.”

To guide the students through this process, Steinway will participate in critiques along the way and will provide expertise and technical information—including CAD files, drawings, text, and direction on which of the instrument’s components must remain unchanged. For the final critique, each student will present a refined, professionally executed scale model and renderings to Steinway & Sons.

“The goal of this collaboration is to create pianos that function as musical instruments, as well as distinctive pieces of furniture. Surface and external casing modification will be utilized to create groundbreaking designs,” said RISD Furniture Design Associate Professor Lothar Windels. “This partnership is a perfect fit for the RISD pedagogy. No matter what discipline they are studying—from furniture to graphic design to glass—students here learn the fundamentals of making before they hone their skills for modern practices. We are pleased to be working with such an iconic brand that represents excellence in craftsmanship.”

About RISD
Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) has earned an international reputation as the leading college of art and design in the United States. Approximately 2,400 students from around the world study at RISD, pursuing full-time bachelor’s or master’s degree programs in a choice of 19 studio majors. RISD is known for its phenomenal faculty of artists and designers, the breadth of its specialized facilities and its hands-on, studio-based approach to learning – one in which critical thinking informs making works by hand. Required courses in the liberal arts provide an essential complement to studio work, enabling graduates to become critical and informed individuals eager to engage with the world. Through the accomplishments of its 26,000 alumni, the college champions the vital role artists and designers play in satisfying the global demand for innovation. Founded in 1877, RISD (pronounced “RIZ-dee”) and the RISD Museum of Art help make Providence, RI among the most culturally active and creative cities in the region. For more information, visit or

About Steinway & Sons
Since 1853 Steinway pianos have set an uncompromising standard for sound, touch, beauty and investment value. Steinway remains the choice of 9 out of 10 concert artists, and is the preferred piano of countless musicians, professional and amateur, throughout the world.

Jaime Marland, Rhode Island School of Design: [email protected] / T 401 427 6954


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