Chris Hacker tapped to lead Product Design Department

Portrait of Chris Hacker.On a mission to teach designers to be a force for good in the world

Provost Karen Hofmann announced that, after a comprehensive search, the College has named Chris Hacker to the position of chair of the Product Design department. A professor in ArtCenter’s Graduate Graphic Design department since 2016, Hacker officially took over the role on January 22, 2019.

“Chris brings vast depth and breadth of design and leadership experience to the Product Design department and to the College at large,” said Hofmann, who led the department since 2009 prior to becoming provost. “I am thrilled to hand the reins of this incredible program and community of students, faculty, alumni and partners to him.”

A leader in the field, Hacker defines design as valued by business, driven by technological change and a force for good. These principles, explains Hofmann, are synchronous with the mission of the Product Design department for its students to visualize and realize the future with thoughtfulness and intent. “I am confident his leadership and vision will guide the program into the next era of success and impact,” she continued.

“I am honored and humbled to be asked to lead this iconic product design program,” said Hacker. “I look forward with excitement to adding the passion and enthusiasm I have for design and sustainability to support the education of young product design minds at ArtCenter. It is my mission to teach designers that they must be a force for good in the world.”

As a member of the Graduate Graphic Design department faculty, Hacker helped develop the curriculum with a focus on strategy, design management and professional preparation. While at ArtCenter, he has co-taught Trans-Disciplinary Studio sponsored projects, and worked closely with graduating Product Design students to prepare for the recruitment process and professional life.

Prior to teaching at the College, Hacker spent the majority of his career leading design teams at Herman Miller, Johnson & Johnson, Aveda Corporation, Warner Bros. Studio Store, Steuben Glass Works, Dansk International Designs and Estée Lauder. Throughout the years, he has hired numerous ArtCenter graduates to work at those companies.

While chief design officer at Johnson & Johnson, he sponsored several Trans-Disciplinary Studio courses including early Testlab Berlin programs and DesignStorms at ArtCenter. Trans-Disciplinary Studios are 14-week classes sponsored by industry partners. DesignStorms are immersive three-day projects in which students, faculty and professionals from participating sponsoring companies—such as adidas, Adobe, Amazon, Microsoft and Vans—collaborate and innovate around emerging material technologies or future market opportunities.

Earlier in his career, Hacker was a product designer at Henry Dreyfus and Associates, JCPenney Company Inc. and GAF Corporation.

He is a proud board member of ArtCenter’s FullCircle group, committed to supporting ArtCenter students on their educational journey and developing successful career paths.

Hacker holds a Bachelor of Science in industrial design from the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture Art and Planning.

In the role of chair, Hacker will provide the creative, strategic and academic vision for the department and work closely with a diverse body of faculty to shape the curriculum to address the expanding role of product design in the industry and continue prioritizing sustainable design practices to minimize a product’s footprint on the planet.

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