Monthly Archives: February 2010

Visual Acoustics Screening Sunday

Grassroots think tank One Community, in association with the Julius Shulman Institute at Woodbury University, will present a screening of the film Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman at Hillside Campus Sunday. The documentary will be followed by a moderated discussion—Does Architecture Create Great Communities or Do Communities Create Great Architecture?—featuring architectural historian Barbara Lamprecht and artist Michael Stern.

Narrated by Dustin Hoffman, the film explores the monumental career of architectural photographer Shulman, who died last year at the age of 99. Shulman combined the organic with the synthetic, capturing the essence of urban design and nature in his photographs.

The event is free and open to the public. RSVP at or

Screening: Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman
Sunday February 28, 4 pm
Hillside Campus
Ahmanson Auditorium

(Pictured: Case Study House No. 22, Julius Shulman)

Davidson Elected Chairman of the Board of Trustees

Art Center’s Board of Trustees announced today that Robert C. Davidson Jr. has been elected board chairman. His appointment continues a new era of leadership at the College, following the announcement of a Lorne Buchman as president last October.

Davidson is the first African-American to serve as board chairman at Art Center, and among the first African-Americans to assume board leadership of a member institution within the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design. He has served on Art Center’s Board of Trustees since 2004.

“It is an honor and a privilege to be asked to serve as board chairman for an institution as distinguished as Art Center,” Davidson says. “As the College celebrates its 80th anniversary, it is with a sense of excitement and renewed commitment that we will partner with Buchman to help Art Center achieve new levels of greatness.”

Read the full press release here (PDF format).

In Case You Missed It…

As you know, there’s always something going on when it comes to Art Center alumni, students and faculty. Some of the latest:

  • Did you know that the “Godfather of Paparazzi,” Ron Galella, is an alum? the {warehouse} magazine
  • Illustration alumnus Tavis Coburn created a series of incredibly cool posters for last week’s BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) Awards. (Pictured) /Film
  • The New York Times takes at look at the 2010 Acura ZDX, created by Transportation Design alum Michelle Christensen four years ago, while she was still a student here.  Also integral to the project were several alums: project leader Damon Schell TRAN ’99, interior designer Michael Wiedeman TRAN ’97 and color and trim designer Kimberly Marte ENVL ’99. New York Times
  • More on the upcoming Williamson Gallery DreamWorlds exhibit. Pasadena Star-News
  • Illustration alum Ajmal Zaheer Ahmad recently unveiled the FireBreather, a custom 2010 Camaro created for the upcoming supernatural thriller Jinn, which Zaheer is directing. AutoBlog
  • Photographer, alumnus and faculty member David Sotelo braves downtown L.A.’s shuttered El Dorado Hotel. GOOD
  • Faculty member Annette Weisser’s latest exhibit, The End of the World, opens Friday at Reception Gallery in Berlin.

MDP Graduate Thesis Project Goes Viral

Graduate Media Design alum Julia Yu Tsao’s graduate thesis project, Curious Displays, has gone viral, with mentions at Boing Boing, and Gizmodo and Loyal K*N*G, among many others.

“The project explores our relationship with devices and technology by examining the multi-dimensionality of communication and the complexity of social behavior and interaction,” writes Tsao, who graduated in December. “In its essence, the project functions as a piece of design fiction, considering the fluctuating nature of our present engagement with media technology and providing futurist imaginings of other ways of being.”

Check out the super-cool video after the jump.

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Seymour Chwast Visits Campus

International design legend Seymour Chwast will be on campus tomorrow, February 25.

Chwast’s award-winning work has influenced two generations of designers and illustrators. Recipient of the AIGA medal, he co-founded Pushpin studios, which rapidly gained an international reputation for innovative design and illustration. Pushpin’s visual language arose from a passion for historical design movements and helped revolutionize the way we look at design today. Come and see the work, now collected by the Museum of Modern Art, and hear the story behind a lifetime of innovation and ideas. A book signing will follow the lecture.

Seymour Chwast
Thursday, February 25, Noon
Ahmanson Auditorium

Catching Up with Karen Hofmann

Karen Hofmann, recently appointed Department Chair of Product Design, sat down with us to discuss the future of the department.

As an alumna and educator, Hofmann has developed innovative curriculum—such as DesignStorms,  immersive collaborations of students, faculty and professionals from sponsoring companies—and defined new strategies benefiting the entire College. She has served as director of the Color, Materials and Trends Exploration Laboratory (CMTEL) at Hillside Campus since 2006, and has been on the Art Center faculty since 2001. She was recently named one of the Most Admired Educators of 2010 by DesignIntelligence, published by the Design Futures Council.

Prior to joining Art Center’s faculty, Hofmann held leadership positions at o2studio and Johnson Controls. She graduated from Art Center in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in product design and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from California State University, Northridge. She served as Acting Chair of the department from 2008 to 2009.

Dotted Line: What do you bring to the Product Design Department as Chair?
Karen Hofmann
: I am deeply committed to upholding the great legacy and strengths of the department. I feel a great sense of responsibility to prepare young designers as creative citizens of the 21st century, and will evolve the program to best prepare our students for meaningful careers that positively impact the world.

DL: What does the future hold for product design in general?
It has gone beyond just producing objects. Today product design is about applying the design process to any number of problems in the world, from social impact challenges to redesigning organizations. The term “design thinking” is very in vogue right now—product designers have led these collaborative and iterative processes for years.  Product designers are responsible for bringing non-designers along in the creative process as they identify and solve problems.

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Words, Words, Words! Marion Bantjes brings her candor to Art Center

Marian Bantjes, fresh from her appearance at TED, stopped by the Ahmanson Auditorium last Thursday to share some riveting stories behind her internationally-recognized work. The Canadian artist, typographer, designer and writer touched on her project selection process, the philosophy behind her unique aesthetic and the difficulty of finding something worth saying.

Did you hear Bantjes speak? What did you think?

Here are a few highlights:

On her early career as a typesetter:

As a typesetter, I didn’t do any creative work at all. The designer told me what to do and my job was to know typography well enough to get it right. I did this for ten years. Most people who want to be designers think of this as tedious. But I learned a lot about typography and I loved that job. It’s something undervalued in most design today. People want to do the fun stuff, the crazy stuff, the stuff that I do now, but it’s really important to be able to get pleasure in the fine details.

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Can Context Be Counterproductive in Art?

Miller-McCune reports on some surprising new research that suggests that presenting contextual information alongside a work of modern art may lessen a viewer’s enjoyment or appreciation of the piece.

From the article: “‘Providing contextual information led to participants perceiving examples of the various styles of art as matching less well with their internal standards than when no contextual information was presented,’ Bordens writes. In other words, they were more likely to feel a piece conformed to their personal ideas about art — and thus more likely to enjoy or appreciate it — when it was presented without interpretation.”

Do you agree? Can context be counterproductive?

Read the article: Context May Diminish Art Appreciation

EcoCouncil Meets the President

Art Center President Lorne Buchman recently met with the EcoCouncil, a student-run organization which works closely with faculty and administration to find practical and creative solutions to reduce the College’s ecological impact. The group conducted a presentation for Buchman outlining their vision for sustainability initiatives at the College, including their desire for required courses in responsible design for all students, improved recycling efforts on campus during peak periods of the term, increasing accessibility to public transportation, and finding better ways to maintain and incorporate the Art Center community into our hillside environment.