‘Unconscious creativity’ is the theme launched for the 2024 edition of the TRACKS OF FREEDOM format: as every year, a group of RUFA Visual and Innovation Design master’s students flew to New York for a unique professional experience, seeking inspiration for new design and artistic approaches.

Imagine immersing yourself in the effervescent world of brand and visual design, wrapped in a variety of talks, studio visits, and social and cultural insights, all within the vibrant backdrop of New York, an undisputed symbol of freedom. Here, our Visual and Innovation Design master’s students will have the opportunity to transform the pulsating energy of the city and their dreams into boundless creativity.
This special project offers an intense 9-day experience where research, study, and design work merge into an extraordinary experience in the heart of the Big Apple, immersed in a stimulating and captivating professional environment.
The workshop aims to explore the concept of Freedom through a synesthetic lens, embracing a multidisciplinary approach that aims to capture the electrifying dynamism and symbolic creative force of New York City. All techniques and languages of contemporary communication will be utilized, from brand identity to motion graphics, interaction design to photography and video, encouraging hybridizations, convergences, and experimentations.

From May 6 to 15, 2024, the students – guided by professors and designers Mario Rullo and Emanuele Cappelli, along with our Academic Director, Arch. Fabio Mongelli – endeavored to reinterpret the concept of “Freedom,” capturing the vibrant dynamism and creative strength of New York through a variety of contemporary communication languages and techniques.
The projects developed by the students over these nine days will be exhibited in the evocative setting of RUFA Space, an exhibition space located at Pastificio Cerere, in the San Lorenzo district of Rome. A precious opportunity to showcase to an external audience the results of this unique educational journey.

Among the numerous studios visited, we remember: Pentagram – under the guidance of partner Giorgia Lupi and with a brief meeting with Paula Scher, one of the most influential graphic designers in the world; Lubalin Foundation, Order Studio, Salotto Studio – where we listened to the case studies of Giulia Zoavo, Vittorio Perotti, Lorenzo Fanton, and the illustrator Emiliano Ponzi – and also The Working Assembly, Studio Gretel, with designers active in New York for years, Matteo Bologna and Daniele Politini. In conclusion, as every year, the students had the opportunity to present their research work at the prestigious MFA SVA Design, in the presence of exceptional designers such as Lita Talarico, Steven Heller, Lorenzo Fanton, and Jonathan Wayskol.

Congratulations to all the young RUFA designers involved in this adventure: Lucia Borgia, Flaminia Filigi, Giulia Giovannetti, Arianna Ippoliti, Rozalia Kiss, Nicla Marinelli, Silvia Mercurio, Lorenzo Mirabella, Giorgia Pustorino, Alessandra Remoli, Ornella Susca, and Mariangela Verde.


Keep scrolling down the page to see all the photos and vlogs shot by the students day by day and get a taste of their adventure in New York.



Emanuele Cappelli

Designer and Professor

Mario Rullo

Designer and Professor

Fabio Mongelli

Dean and Architect

Lucia Borgia

Visual and Innovation Design student

Flaminia Filigi

Visual and Innovation Design student

Giulia Giovannetti

Visual and Innovation Design student

Arianna Ippoliti

Visual and Innovation Design student

Rozalia Kiss

Visual and Innovation Design student

Nicla Martinelli

Visual and Innovation Design student

Silvia Mercurio

Visual and Innovation Design student

Lorenzo Mirabella

Visual and Innovation Design student

Giorgia Pustorino

Visual and Innovation Design student

Alessandra Remoli

Visual and Innovation Design student

Ornella Susca

Visual and Innovation Design student

Mariangela Verde

Visual and Innovation Design student

Maria Teresa Tenaglia

Fotografia e Audiovisivo

Here we are, the long-awaited day has finally arrived. It’s strange to think that it feels like just yesterday I was packing my suitcase to leave, and now I find myself here closing it to return home.
Today is the day we will present our projects. Anxiety? Plenty, but there is also a strong sense of excitement in concluding this journey that has transformed me and pushed me to give my best. So, after a long night of preparations, modifications, and final touches, are we ready? No, but we pretend we are.

12:20 PM MFA SVA Design, surrounded by esteemed designers like Lita Talarico, Steven Heller, Lorenzo Fanton, and Jonathan Wajskol. The tension rises, and in a second we find ourselves at the beginning of what I would call a journey I hope never ends.

2:00 PM: the lights dim. Five minutes of speech, fifteen slides to convey our passion. Eight intense days, full of challenges and new stimuli that tested our convictions. Two minutes in which, at the end of the presentation, come the comments, advice, and new ideas. One minute to realize that the job you want to do in life will be the best job in the world, never stopping to learn, wanting to surpass limits and break rules. The day comes to an end as we head towards the airport, reflecting on this intense week and how quickly it passed.

It has been an experience that made me grow, made me understand the importance of finding a balance between work and fun. Because we are designers, and often it is the moments of leisure that inspire us and bring new ideas.
And so we leave, tired but happy, with bags full of ideas and dreams. And a few more books. (Nicla Martinelli)

The day before the presentation and departure, we started with a beautiful walk in Central Park, enjoying the nice weather and sunshine. Our exploration went beyond mere sightseeing as we met Daniele Politini, a respected Italian graphic designer currently living in New York. His insights into his work and life journey inspired us, sparking meaningful conversations and providing valuable answers to our questions.

Afterwards, we took some time to further explore the park and its surroundings, savoring the vibrant atmosphere and treating ourselves to a delicious lunch. Fueled by newfound energy, we delved into project reviews at the public library on 53rd Street, refining our work for the next day’s presentation. After a satisfying dinner, we concluded the day with a final review session, making some last-minute tweaks to our project presentations. Eager for the big day, we went to bed feeling excited and enthusiastic. (Rozalia Kiss)

We have now reached the seventh day of this fantastic experience in the Big Apple and every moment seems to run faster.
Increasingly immersed and busy with our plans for Tuesday’s presentation, we still carved out time to visit MoMa, the world’s best-known museum of modern and contemporary art.
What can I say, to be able to admire the masterpieces of Picasso, Matisse, Van Gogh, Pollock, Rothko, Warhol and many other artists with one’s own eyes I think is one of the most beautiful cultural experiences I have had in days, especially for someone like me who has been savouring art since high school.
Following this burst of art that refreshed our morning, the day ‘alas’ had to take a different turn: design, design, design. So after lunch we returned to the hotel, because almost a week after our arrival the countdown to the end begins, and we have to give our best by seizing the stimuli of this city and channelling them into our projects. May the night in Manhattan reserve us the best stars for tomorrow, the last day of our wonderful journey. (Ornella Susca)

Today we woke up hoping for good weather, and that’s exactly what we got. As we left the hotel, the sun was there to greet us.
We headed towards Downtown Manhattan where we met Matteo Bologna. The first stop of the day was an instructive Letterpress experience, where we admired the beauty of movable type, the wonder of the oldest press they have (from 1840), and how it evolved into other methods and presses for printing. They gave us the opportunity to print letters on paper, and we had a lot of fun doing it.
Next, we had the opportunity to hear about the creative process behind the visual identity of the Tin Building from Matteo Bologna. In the past, the fish market was located there, but now it’s an evocative place where you can delight your palate with food from around the world.
Matteo conveyed the passion and commitment he puts into his work to us; typography is an important expressive element, especially when it is the foundation of a visual identity like the Tin Building.
After lunch, we had time to take some photos with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background. After that, Matteo guided us in appreciating the gems of Brooklyn, from vintage shops to the calm and relaxing atmosphere of the neighborhood. During the walk, we also had the chance to have some fun playing shuffleboard. But the highlight came around 9 PM: to conclude the day, we spent the evening dancing at The Stonewall Inn, where the pride began. (Giulia Giovannetti)

Today was our fifth day here in New York where we faced biting cold and light rain. However, we did not let it discourage us and had a day full of excitement.

Our first stop was in Brooklyn, where we had the opportunity to visit Gretel, an independent strategy and design studio. The studio’s environment was wonderful with a harmonious combination of wood and brick that created a unique atmosphere. Here we met Dylan Mulvaney, design director, and Ian Beckman Reagan, strategy director, who gave us a detailed overview of their approach to working with clients.

After this stimulating experience, we headed to the Brooklyn Public Library, where we worked on our project.
Next, we went to Poster House, a place dedicated to the culture and design of posters, where we took a coffee break at the internal bar, recharging our energy for the day. Fortunately, admission was free and we were able to explore three fascinating exhibitions: We Tried to Warn You! Environmental Crisis Posters, 1970–2020, The Anatomy of a Movie Poster: The Work of Dawn Baillie, and Wonder City of the World: New York City Travel Posters.

Back at the hotel, we took some time to rest, ready to face the challenges that the next day in New York will bring with renewed enthusiasm. (Arianna Ippoliti)

This morning we woke up full of energy because we knew we would be entering Pentagram, where we were welcomed by Giorgia Lupi.
Giorgia showed us a showreel of the most important projects realised in recent years and spoke to us more specifically about some case studies, describing the creative process up to the proposals and realisation. We listened to her words in religious silence.
What struck us most was the magnitude and transversality of their projects. At the end of the meeting we had the opportunity to take a short tour inside the studio populated by many designers and full of visual stimuli.
When we were about to leave, I was attracted by a slight buzz and realised that everyone else was standing in front of something or someone important: Paula Scher! It was exciting to see her in person.

After a bite to eat, we headed to ‘The Working Assembly’, consisting of a group of young girls who immediately made us feel at ease. They too showed us some of their projects in an energetic, humorous and engaging way and gave us some gadgets. Leaving there, excited and satisfied with the day we had experienced, we went to a Public Library to continue our project. Now it’s our turn! (Alessandra Remoli)

Third day in the Big Apple. We woke up early in the thick New York rain which then gave way to sunshine, but despite the heat the day was intense and unforgettable.
After a long panoramic walk in the green High Line we visited the Whitney Museum being fascinated by the paintings of the permanent collection including Hopper’s works.
We had a quick lunch at the Chelsea Market to leave immediately in the direction of Brooklyn for the Order Studio.
Here Jesse Reed welcomed us in a friendly atmosphere, saving us from the hellish heat, showed us his work and told us about his incredible journey, from collaborator at Pentagram to co-founder of Order.
Then the adventure began again, between Google Maps going crazy and the Metrocard preventing us from passing through the turnstiles, we finally arrived at the last stop of the day: Salotto Studio, where Giulia, Lorenzo and Vittorio, Italian designers expatriates in New York, showed us a little insight into their personal work and how they created the Salotto project, which they call the “Embassy of Italian design in New York”, a community of freelance designers working in the same place.
The chat ended with some advice and food for thought from illustrator Emiliano Ponzi.
The all-together dinner of tacos in Brooklyn at a charming kiosk was the conclusion of this intense but inspiring day for our future as designers! (Lucia Borgia and Silvia Mercurio)

After sleeping for a few hours to recover from jet lag and the previous day’s excitement, we woke up full of energy just at the idea of all that lay ahead. Although we thought we were defeated, we won the battle against the underground ticket machines and managed to make our way to the Lubalin Foundation.
We were welcomed by Sacha Tochilovsky, who gave us an incredible tour of the archive, showing us the work of designers who are often not shown in history books. The conversation lasted almost 3 hours and we were able to touch, admire, see and ask about the incredible archive that holds magazines, original sketches, posters and packaging from the American 20th century.
That moment inspired us to continue working on our projects.
After a quick pizza, which was quite good despite the fact that we were not in Italy, we split up to start our research in Manhattan.
While some of us went to explore the city under the terrible heat that made us regret Rome, others went to the New York Public Library to work for a few hours in a beautiful space.
The day was long, the emotions strong, the sun shining. We ended the day eating together, tired but excited for all the incredible days ahead. (Mariangela Verde)

I woke up early and already the excitement was with me from the first moment.
Today is the day of the flight to the Big Apple with the group. The objective? To find inspiration in the lively streets of this metropolis to enrich our creativity. A ten-hour flight seems like an eternity, but the adrenaline for adventure keeps us company.
Upon landing, we can finally say: we are in New York!
As we go through customs we can already imagine the city that awaits us out there, the air of the city can already be felt from the taxi stand. Once in Manhattan, the gigantic skyscrapers make us feel small in front of the grandeur of this huge metropolis. It is only the beginning, but we already feel the creative energy of this overwhelming atmosphere created by the city and everything that makes it up. (Lorenzo Mirabella)