A photo collage of the city of Florence, Italy, and Xander Cuizon Tice learning weaving at the Fondazione Arte della Seta Lision
In 2018, Product Design student Xander Cuizon Tice was one of only seven students selected to travel to the Fondazione Arte della Seta Lisio in the green hills surrounding Florence, Italy. The foundation has been teaching the ancient art of hand-weaving silk and bejeweled textiles for five decades, crafting unique fabrics for clients such as the fashion houses of Versace, Valentino, and Gucci.
In the Fibers in Florence study abroad program, Cuizon Tice learned the art of manual Jacquard weaving, which creates a luxurious, patterned brocade fabric.
“The experience definitely gave me a better understanding of what’s possible with fibers in terms of clothing and art and patterns,” Cuizon Tice said. “It was amazing—something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
Xander Cuizon Tice at the Fondazione Arte della Seta Lision, and the 2019 'Fibers in Florence' show at the LaVerne Krause Gallery in the College of Design
Cuizon Tice, a Seattle native in his final year as a product design undergraduate at the College of Design, has long loved working with his hands whether it be drawing airplanes with his dad growing up, his high school jobs at a woodshop and a bike shop, competing as a nationally ranked ultimate frisbee player, redesigning the gift shop at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, or designing and crafting different products in the Product Design program.
“Product Design seemed like a natural path for me,” he said. “I really wanted to work in a job where I was moving around and working with my hands because that’s where I find the most joy.”
One particular course sophomore year was a turning point for Cuizon Tice: the Designer’s Tools (PD 240) studio taught by Associate Professor John Arndt. Cuizon Tice remembers one of the assignments was to design and build two stools from one slab of wood, a project with little room for error.
“I didn’t want to start,” Cuizon Tice recalled. “You have to just dive in. It’s okay to be super nervous and working on something you don’t know is going to turn out, because being in that environment is why you’re doing it. It’s all about learning.”
The first stool turned out a little wonky; the second was much more refined, and he was happy with the result. It was the second assignment, however, that led to Cuizon Tice, a lover of the outdoors, to find a passion in designing, repairing, and upcycling outdoor gear.
“The rolltop backpack,” he said. “This is where I fell in love with sewing and backpacks in general.” He liked the puzzle of it, figuring out seam allowances and the process of sewing.
Xander Cuizon Tice at the 2019 Wolrd Under-24 Ultimate Championships in Germany; the rolltop backpack designed and made by Cuizon Tice; Cuizon Tice working on leather tote production for a Product Design studio taught by Pro Tem Instructor Tom Bonamici
These new skills have already come in handy. In the summer of 2019, while working at Boulder Mountain Repair in Colorado Cuizon Tice helped repair and develop products like a high-altitude alpine tent and small packs for rescuing climbers.
“We made parachutes for the government, which was pretty wild,” he added.
Looking ahead, Cuizon Tice said that his major has prepared him for many potential career paths, from a CAD designer to a furniture designer to the realm of outdoor and commuter gear. He says faculty prompted him to think seriously about sustainability.
“It’s given me the realization that you might not always need to design a new backpack or a new fork or something. We already have so many products out there,” Cuizon Tice said. “Reusing materials is the new wave.”
To see more of Cuizon Tice's design work, visit his website here.