In 2012, Christopher Miano spent his summer studying Furniture Design at DIS, which gave way to a career influenced by Scandinavian design. After finishing his senior year at Parsons The New School of Design, Chris returned to Copenhagen to study at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. Now, Chris is living in New York City as a furniture designer for his company CAM Design Co., with clients such as Starbucks, Condé Nast, and Harvard, among others. We interviewed Chris to learn more about how his time at DIS influenced his career.
DIS: Chris, what was your DIS experience like? Where did you live, what classes did you take, and what activities were you a part of?
Chris Miano: DIS for me was a life-altering experience. Not only did it affect the way I looked at design and craft, but it changed my outlook and appreciation for life and culture. This was something that wouldn’t have been the same without my experience at such a beautiful place as Copenhagen.
I had the opportunity to live in the heart of the city in a building on Nørregade and Skindergade, by one of the most beautiful and energetic squares in the city. I was the only one without a roommate, but being on the top floor with amazing views helped. It did not take long for me to meet great people and lifelong friends, as everyone was so excited just like me to start this amazing experience abroad.
I was at DIS to study Furniture Design and could not have asked for better professors and teachers. During the first week learning who my teachers would be and viewing their presentations, I was blown away by the life experiences and work they had created. I could not be more excited to work and learn from the best. The school itself was full of top-of-the-line equipment and tools to help students prototype and build their ideas to fruition. Wood shop was one of my favorite classes; the environment was full of natural light which made it a pleasant place to spend hours crafting and getting to know students like myself.
I have always been an active bicyclist and enjoy a good ride around New York City, so it wasn’t more than a day after my arrival that I decided to rent a bike for my time abroad. This was a great way to learn the streets and cruise the city. Copenhagen was full of great dining so it was not hard to find a different place every day to explore and try new things. I enjoyed taking in as much culture and amazing architecture as I possibly could.
DIS: Did your time at DIS affect your career choice? What stories, experiences, and/or lessons did you carry with you after your time abroad?
CM: I have always had a passion and drive for crafting, tinkering, and building anything and everything I could set my mind to. Having a strong appreciation for well-designed and hand built furniture made me realize that I was in the right place; I knew this is what I wanted to do for a lifelong career. Thanks to this study abroad program, I was able to better my skills as a craftsman and open my mind to new ideas.
After coming back from my time aboard it was great to see my family and friends. It was hard to sum up my experience in a few sentences and explain what an amazing place Copenhagen is. It changed my outlook and perspective on so many different things in my life personally and professionally. I had come home a better and happier person, I saw amazing places, met amazing people, and best of all created an amazing chair that I couldn’t have been more proud of.
The Toolo Chair
DIS: Do you incorporate Danish design and/or culture into your current pieces? Do they influence your creative process – if so, how?
CM: As soon as I started my next semester back at Parsons School of Design in NYC, I was ready to create new and amazing artifacts using my knowledge and skills I had brought back with me from DIS. I had the opportunity to design and build a knock down piece of furniture for Mark Bechtel’s Flat Pack Studio for Blu Dot, where there were certain limitations and expectations to be shipped and reassembled by its user. I could not have been more excited to be designing this piece.
I would certainly say that my creative process from iteration to final artifact as well as form and function of the “Button table” was strongly influenced by my experiences and knowledge learned at DIS.
DIS: What do you hope students take away overall from studying at DIS?
CM: I would hope that students take away the same life experiences that I was able to have during my time abroad. I would suggest students explore as much as possible, try different things, meet interesting people, and have an overall amazing experience and use the city as inspiration.
DIS: What advice do you have for our current students in spending a semester in Copenhagen?
CM: My advice for current students in Copenhagen would be to keep sketching, designing, and absorbing everything around you. As you already know you are in a magical place surrounded by and learning from truly impressive individuals…keep going!