Do you have a West Elm product in your home that you know and love? Whether it’s your dining table, your rug or a statement lighting fixture, there’s a decent chance that it was created by someone who graduated from Rhode Island School of Design. At West Elm, we design over 90% of our products in-house, a true differentiator in the home furnishing market that attracts top talent from design schools.

“Roughly one quarter of the people on the West Elm design teams across all departments are RISD grads,” says Jeff Hannoosh, the Senior Vice President of Product Development at West Elm and a ’00 ID RISD graduate.

So when the opportunity came up to outfit an off-campus space for the RISD community with West Elm products designed by alumni, Jeff thought it seemed like a perfect fit. The Design Crew with West Elm Providence selected many pieces of West Elm furniture + accessories for the RISD Cottage that were designed by alum right here at West Elm — all while making sure the space was cohesive and functional for the school’s use, from hosting out-of-town artists and visitors to larger-scale school events and even weddings.

Learn more about booking a free West Elm Design Crew appointment today!

How do so many RISD grads find their way to West Elm HQ in Brooklyn? The art and design school located in Providence, RI, has a similar creative process and philosophy to West Elm’s, says Jeff. “At RISD students learn the value of experimentation without fear of failure, exploring new materials and constructions techniques, and creating harmonious solutions to design challenges. This is consistent with our approach in design at West Elm.”

Associate Designer Julie Kang, who graduated from RISD in 2015 and designed the Light Rods LED Chandelier and the Metalized Glass Table Lamp used in the cottage, says that RISD’s focus on craft and West Elm’s culture of in-house designers is what makes for a harmonious crossover. “Coming from RISD, since we are also makers, we have an understanding of how things are made,” she says, “so we have a level of empathy that comes with the products we create, which I think makes them more livable and relatable to people.”

Julie was excited to see her and her colleague’s designs all together in the context of a home. “When you’re working on a piece as an individual product, it’s not as glamorous,” she says. “But when it all comes together and you see it in an environment, then you’re like oh, okay!”

The West Elm products featured in the RISD Cottage touch many elements of home design, from furniture and lighting to textiles and decorative accessories, and are intermixed with designs by alumni for a range of companies beyond West Elm. “I think it’s exciting to have a place at RISD that captures so many objects created by alumni with a shared creative approach applied at different organizations,” Jeff says. “I think it speaks to the incredible talent in the RISD community and I’m so glad we were able to support this partnership.”

Take a full tour of the RISD Cottage below and check out the designers who helped bring the space to life!

Photography by Landon Vonderschmidt

Living Room

Featured Designs:
Hex Side Tables designed by Frank Cresencia
Linear Metal LED Floor Lamp designed by Brendan Keim

More RISD Alum Artwork:
Shut Up / Until You Turn Blue, graphite + charcoal on paper by Chris Theiss
Komposition Y and Komposition Z, color screenprints by Carl Fudge
Untitled, skateboard + scrap wood by Tom Weis

Dining Room

Featured Designs:
Mobile Chandelier designed by Jeff Hannoosh
Mid-Century Expandable Dining Table designed by Syrette Lew

More Artwork/Design by RISD Alum + Faculty:
#14, mixed media by Mahler B. Ryder
Unknown AP, etching by Mike Ngun
Accent chair by Tage Frid; Textile design by Brooks Hagan and Bill Foulkes of Weft

Sitting Room

Featured Designs:
Wright Dining Buffet designed by Andrea Parikh
Hex Side Tables designed by Frank Cresencia

More Artwork/Design by RISD Alum + Faculty:
Lyceum, digital print by Nancy Skolos
Unknown, aquatint spitbite by Whitney Alsup
Accent chair by Tage Frid; Textile design by Brooks Hagan and Bill Foulkes of Weft


Featured Designs:
Light Rods LED Chandelier designed by Julie Kang

Master Bedroom

Featured Designs:
Wright Nightstands + Wright 6-Drawer Dresser designed by Andrea Parikh
Ionic LED Sconce designed by Emily Arthur

More RISD Alum Design:
Carapace by Hella Jongerius for Maharam (textile on headboard)

Second Bedroom

Featured Designs:
Bower LED Table Lamp designed by Jeffrey Renz of Bower

More RISD Alum Design:
Twin Beds by John Dunnigan and Rosanne Somerson

Third Bedroom

Featured Design:
Metalized Glass Table Lamp + USB designed by Julie Kang

More RISD Alum Design:
Scape by Maharam (textile on headboard)

Outdoor Space

Featured Design:
Ikat Mix Indoor/Outdoor Rug designed by Tamara El-Aasser

The Design Crew with West Elm Providence was so excited to collaborate on this space with Rhode Island School of Design and give back to the school in this meaningful way. Learn more about booking your own free West Elm Design Crew appointment today!

Photography by Landon Vonderschmidt

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Kathy Rohac

July 18, 2019

What gray sofa is in the living room of the Grace Rasmus RISD cottage?


July 22, 2019

Do you happen to know the paint color used in the living room?

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