Author Archives: admin

Designmatters 15 buzzwords for 15 years: Co-creation


Earlier this month, in association with ArtCenter’s 85th anniversary, Designmatters Co-Founder and Vice President, Mariana Amatullo, PhD, kicked off the 15 Years of Designmatters (#DM15Yrs) storytelling campaign. Designed to celebrate and commemorate the groundbreaking program’s achievements in social impact design, this multi-platform series will feature posts of various shapes and sizes by Designmatters faculty, alumni, students and partners. The following reflection on Safe Ninos field work in Chile by faculty members Penny Herskovitch and Dan Gottlieb offers empirical proof of the value of co-creation. 

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Signature move: Alum Laura Leiman’s Creative Identity project explores the power of the pen

Laura Leiman's students learn carving techniques

Laura Leiman’s students learn carving techniques

“The signature is a singular fingerprint, original and distinctive to each person…and it is fast becoming extinct,” says Laura Leiman (BFA 99 Graphics), a graphic artist, student mentor and recent Regional Arts & Culture Council grant recipient, who has observed that most of her students printed their signatures with few distinguishing qualities. In fact, Leiman’s students’ signatures were often so similar, it it was hard to tell them apart.

Leiman noticed students were missing something key to individuality: the ability to communicate a written signature clearly yet uniquely as their own. Leiman’s Portland public school students wanted to learn cursive and calligraphy, neither of which is consistently taught. More importantly, students were eager to create identities uniquely their own—something they could use and develop through life.

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Beyonce and beyond: Pretty Hurts students explore the intersection of art, feminism and pop culture

Laura Solomon

Laura Solomon

Pretty Hurts (Art 257) started out as a class that stirred debate and outright defiance both within Art Center’s student community and online publications. As the instructors of Pretty Hurts we would like to highlight the outcomes of the course as well as the projects that originated as a result of the class and how the ideas discussed fractured away from the class to influence Art Center College of Design’s student and faculty community. Continue reading

Alum De Liu’s Xiaomi Inc. inspires China’s growing ranks of design entrepreneurs

Art Center alum De Liu

Art Center alum De Liu

Mr. De Liu, Co-founder and Vice President of Xiaomi Inc., graduated with a Master’s degree from Art Center College of Design in Industrial Design. Because of his outstanding academic performance, top U.S. universities began to cast their eyes at emerging design talents in China. As the saying goes, “it takes a decade to sharpen a sword.”

It was a long and arduous grind for De Liu to grow from being an ordinary designer to his current position as a successful business leader and entrepreneur. De Liu will share his experience as a designer and entrepreneur at the Create Change Design Forum to be held from September 19 to 20, 2015. Visit for more information.

Now let’s take a peek at how his Art Center design education impacted his professional ascent as well as the development of his personal abilities.

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Thanks + Giving: A Next Level dose of brotherly love for Art Center donors

Thank You! from Art Center College of Design on Vimeo.

The following post was written by Martel McCornell & D’Angelo McCornell  ( The Next Level Brothers ), who are biological brothers and film directors from Cleveland, OH. They both are currently attending Art Center College of Design for undergraduate and graduate Film studies. They were truly born Next Level—inspired and determined to continue to become greater together, providing value through great game changing film, design and community innovation.

When we were first approached to create this donor Thank You video, we were very excited and honored to represent Art Center by doing what we love.  Projects that are about value is our niche and purpose.  We knew it was an opportunity to write history and create a positive legacy by expressing our gratitude to those who helped us get where we are today.

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Beyonce and beyond: Fine Art department responds to debate over “Pretty Hurts” course description

Beyoncé Inc. (S, M, L, XL) by April Bey Oil on maternity mannequin and board 36''X48'' 2014

Beyoncé Inc. (S, M, L, XL), by April Bey. Oil on maternity mannequin and board, 36”X48”, 2014

This guest blog post comes in response to recent digital conversation sparked by an article on taking issue with the description for an undergraduate Fine Art course (co-taught, not incidentally, by a woman of color) entitled “Pretty Hurts.” This piece, composed by Fine Art department chair Vanalyne Green and course instructors Ariel McCleese and April Bey, was intended to contribute to this vital and momentous exchange as well as to elucidate the intentions animating the description’s provocation. We hope the dialogue will continue as we wholeheartedly embrace the values of inclusivity and gender equality that have informed this conversation as well as the work of all the artists discussed below. Please continue to weigh in with your thoughts and ideas on this dynamically shifting terrain in the comments section below. 

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And the Gold Award goes to…Safe Agua Colombia Team Calientamigos at IDSA International Conference

Team Calientamigos™ had a very busy summer. The Designmatters team members Mariana Somma, Della Tosin and Safe Agua Assistant Instructor Stella Hernandez returned to Bogotá, Colombia, for another informative field research trip. Around the same time, Tianyi Sun and Kevin Chang visited Austin, Texas, to attend The Exchange, IDSA International Conference, and to accept a Gold Award for Calientamigos™. Commenting on the students’ winning project, IDSA jury member Oscar Peña, global creative director for Philips Design Lighting, described it thus: “Authentic, inventive and playful solution to an everyday need. Good understanding of the value of doing daily rituals together.”

The following three-part post was written by Mariana Somma (Grad ID student), Stella Hernandez (Environmental Design BS 11) and Kevin Chang (Product Design student), on behalf of the entire Safe Agua Colombia Calientamigos™ team.


mariana_headshot-300x300I recently had the privilege of joining the Calientamigos™ Team, which began through the Designmatters Safe Agua Colombia project. Through very tenacious last-minute efforts, I flew to Bogotá, Colombia, with teammate Della Tosin, with efforts to take with us five new Calientamigos BOMBA™ heater prototypes to the families living in the settlement of Altos del Pino (ADP), as well as check in on the first two rounds of prototypes left with the families over six months ago.  The experience was incredible, and meeting the families of ADP is one I will never forget. It was amazing to see the families using the Calientamigos™ system to heat water for bathing, cooking, cleaning, and even washing their family pets! For example, a family of 10 uses the BOMBA™ heater on a daily basis to heat bath water, saving them hours of time heating on a conventional stove, and with significant reduction in their gas bills.

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Die-cut with a vengeance: Student repurposing project captured in new video

The boxes and boxes of leftover die-cut letters that returned from the printer along with the 2015-2016 Viewbook, sparked an idea in Product Design faculty member, Frido Beisert. While others may have seen those letters as useless refuse bound for the recycling bin, Frido saw an opportunity to push the creative bounds of his students. As the saying goes, one person’s trash is another’s design challenge.

Frido asked his students one simple question when he presented them with these letters: How can you transform something useless into something useful?

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Art Center’s evolving social platforms: Come connect, create and engage with your community


As you may have noticed, there have been some changes on our social media sites. We’re working hard to streamline our various digital channels and we’re happy to announce that our major platforms, (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Behance, Myspace) have now been unified under the same handle, artcenteredu.

Our goal is to expand our presence online and keep our networks consistent and connected. Not only is Art Center an educational institution, but the College is also a creative hub of artists and designers, each with a unique story to share.  Our new projects aim to do just that. Let’s share these stories!

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Art Center roundtable featuring Charles Ray examines the state of contemporary sculpture


What does Charles Ray’s faintly lumpish, touched-all-over Tractor (2004) have in common with Jeff Koons’ glistening, meticulously machined Balloon Dog (1994–2000)? And what does either of these celebrated icons have to do with Katharina Fritsch’s fluorescent yellow, human-scaled apparition Madonnenfigur (Madonna Figure) (1987)?

Anticipating the Moderna Museet survey (October 2014–January 2015) that will bring together the sculptural work of Katharina Fritsch, Jeff Koons, and Charles Ray, the exhibition’s curator and Art Center adjunct faculty member Jack Bankowsky will present a distinguished panel at Art Center’s Pasadena campus to discuss the show-in-progress and the critical issues it raises.

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