Giving Back



In the 1980’s Joe Ricchio was a member of the faculty at California State University Long teaching: Perspective, Rapid Visualization and Furniture Design. At the same time he also taught Perspective and Rapid Visualization at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA.

Since 2003 Joe Ricchio has been a member of the Design Department at CSULB teaching Furniture Design. The class focuses on the design of public contemporary furnishings with projects ranging from conceptual to market driven.

Students are exposed to contemporary furniture design and designers, manufacturers, materials and processes, ergonomic principles and furniture design methodology. During the class students visit manufacturing facilities, have a variety of professional guests and execute a final project that results in a full size prototype.

Joe Ricchio was instrumental in having CSULB selected as the 2007 participant in the Wilsonart Chair Competition.

The winning student, Eric MacDonald, received a $1,000.00 scholarship, had his work shown in Metropolis Magazine and was a sponsored guest at ICFF in New York.

Joe Ricchio is also a frequent guest critic in the CSULB Design Department.

Ricchio Design Retreat

Joe Ricchio of Ricchio Design in Seal Beach, California established the Cortona Design Retreat in 2003. He is a 1980 graduate of California State University Long Beach with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design. In 1976/77 he was one of 45 students from throughout the California State University system selected to participate in CSU International Programs. He spent one year in Florence, Italy, studying Design, Art, the Italian Language and Culture.

For over 30 years Ricchio Design has been involved in the contract furniture industry both here and abroad. Salone del Mobile held each year in Milan, Italy, an annual international furniture exhibition, has always been a source of learning, inspiration and excitement. The Cortona Design Retreat was established as a way to share this design and cultural experience with students of CSULB.

Each year selected students are awarded scholarships that cover all expenses for the experience. Scholarships are made possible through the generous contributions from our sponsors: Ricchio Design clients, CSULB alumni and friends of the program. Students are chosen based on: submission of a resume, a portfolio review, a statement explaining the “value of the trip” to them, and personal interviews.

The first week is spent in Milan beginning with a guided tour of the city itself to give the students a sense of place, time and history. The remainder of the week is spent exploring design at Salone, Zona Tortona and the multitude of showrooms throughout the city. We also take one day during our time in the north to visit Venice.

One of the highlights of the week in Milan, if not a highlight of the entire trip, is our annual Thursday night Professionals Dinner. Each year we put together a “great” dinner that combines the students with professional designers and manufacturers within the industry. The students, as do the professionals, always have a great time sharing their thoughts and experiences of Salone and Italy over a relaxing and amazing dinner.

In stark contrast to the dizzying pace and cutting edge visions experienced in Milan, we spend our second week in the small medieval hilltop town of Cortona. Cortona dates back to Etruscan times and is located about one hour southeast of Florence. Whereas in Milan we stay in a hotel, our time in Cortona is spent in a hillside farmhouse just outside the old walls of the city.

Our time in Cortona is about design and design discussions, experiencing the Italian culture, a day trip to Florence and camaraderie. While at the farmhouse, we have many discussions and much interchange about what we experienced the previous week in Milan. Along with the varied discussions, we also manage to execute a design project while there.