Jess Ruggierio stood outside the Tyler School of Art in a green parka. Her outfit was simple, but her deep blue, square-framed glasses stood out.
The senior graphic and interactive design major doesn’t have much of an interest in accessories. She doesn’t have her ears pierced. As an artist, she’s inspired by functionality in design, particularly that of clocks.
Ruggierio said she wasn’t a “soccer kid” growing up. Her parents enrolled her in art classes, and she found an interest in doodling. Her dad is a graphic designer, but she never thought she would follow in his footsteps.
But she began to understand that graphic design and functionality go hand-in-hand. Ruggierio was one of three to be included in the first round of “Hatchery” students – part of Tyler’s new entrepreneurial design program. Tyler professor Bryan Satalino created The Hatchery to teach artists how to become entrepreneurs.
Beginning last semester, Satalino met with the students once or twice a week to bring their designs to the table.
“We’ve learned to make things through industrial design instead of just graphic design,” Ruggierio said.
Members of The Hatchery wanted to incorporate a farm aesthetic-type style into students’ designs. The early product ideas had a very agricultural base, Ruggierio said, which is where she drew inspiration for a simple chicken-shaped clock that has hands shaped like a beak.
At the Tyler Art Market on Oct. 10 and 11, The Hatchery students sold their products for the first time. In what resembled a clear incubator, the products were displayed with a minimalistic design and grabbed the eyes of many, like President Theobald, who stopped in.
There was a steady stream of sales throughout the two days and the first 10 hand built clocks sold out the first day.
“It’s amazing to see someone take your design away because they want it,” Santalino said.
Ruggierio recalled several people asking her why the clock was something that has never been done before – a compliment to any designer, she said. But Ruggierio, a Delaware County native, said it wasn’t easy to choose the product she would develop.
“I wanted to design something that gives information and was well-designed,” Ruggierio said. “It took many tries to get every curve right.”
Ruggierio wanted to make a clock that was quirky, simple and minimalistic.
“Everything still has this farm-fresh local design feel,” she said.
Other first-round “Hatchlings” are Max Vandenberg, who created typography wooden coasters and phone cases, and Lauren West, who designed the “Rise & Shine” clothing line.
Ruggierio said The Hatchery taught her how to transform her graphic design skills into industrial design skills. She said it was difficult to think about what a consumer might want in a product, rather than think of the design as strictly artistic.
“I think we had a happy medium with the design we ended up with,” Ruggierio said.
Satalino said he hopes to enter the clock in some sort of industrial design competition for student work.
The clock designer is currently working on a second project, which she never would have done if it weren’t for her involvement in the Hatchery, she said.
Ruggierio is making a whole series of clocks for one of her upcoming projects, and she hopes to brand her products and make a website.
“She is really talented when it comes to what sells and is visually appealing,” Vandenberg said.
In the future, Ruggierio said she wants to stray from her minimalistic style and create some gold and hot pink clocks with glitter.
Emily Scott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org