Italia Design

An undergraduate field school and research program offered by the School of Interactive Arts + Technology (SIAT) at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. This website is the seven year legacy project of the annual research results conducted in the area of design and innovation.

image goes here.

Project brief

Using ethnographic and research methodologies, educate students on how Italian neighborhoods/cities within Rome, Tuscany, and Milan agglomerate and develop its innovation. Identify how they sustain themselves economically and culturally, without losing their own identity.

image goes here.

Cultural Research

Begin research to understand the surface level of the different neighborhoods and its historical context of each location. Based on the book Cities and the Creative Class by Richard Florida, create visual information models, which explains the arguments of what makes a city innovative. Using these information models and applying it to the Italian cities, we identified our focus on the topics of: traditions, agglomeration, networking, and movement in the city.

image goes here.

Ethnographic research

Using IDEO's ethnographic research methodologies to help gather quantitative and qualitative data for our findings. Research content was gathered through interview sessions, 3rd person observation, and behavioral/spatial mapping. After gathering all the necessary data based on a limited period of 2 weeks per neighborhood, we returned to Vancouver to synthesize all the content to make it legible and cohesive.

image goes here.


After gathering our ethnographic research through interviews with local Italians and several observational methodologies, we as a team have gained a better understanding on why knowledge workers travel, live, and agglomerate to these neighborhoods. We have introduced an entirely new research approach, which the next research team could foster and add on to their legacy. We learned some interesting and unforeseen parts of Italy from locals, which were not present from books or through other sources.

Research Website: SFU Italia Design


Russell Taylor, Professor

Project role

Lead Researcher


Ethnographic Research