The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is a small place that has cast a big shadow on popular culture and modern commerce. Its influence reflects the impact of its 16,000 graduates, who include fashion designer Nicole Miller; the late Marc Harrison, designer of the Cuisinart; and members of Talking Heads.
Last October, RISD put the talents of its influential alumni on display — and on sale — by opening risd works (www.risdworks.com), a shop in downtown Providence that features more than 570 items by more than 250 graduates. Each piece comes with a bio of its creator to reinforce the message of the merchandise. "We show that all the things you have in your life came from somewhere," says the store's director, Matthew Bird, himself a RISD alum. "Artists and designers are behind the scenes of everything."