Author Archives: Anna Macaulay

Faculty profile: Javier Palomares

Javier Palomares makes a point while teaching Materials and Methods. Photo by Juan Posada.

Javier Palomares makes a point while teaching Materials and Methods. Photo by Juan Posada.

At ArtCenter, most of our more than 400 faculty are working professionals—artists, photographers, painters, filmmakers and designers of every discipline—directly engaged with the demands of today’s creative marketplace and bring their knowledge and fresh approaches into the studio. Faculty shape the intellectual life of our community and often build relationships with students that last beyond the classroom.

This Fall, ArtCenter News introduces you to a few of the unique and talented individuals teaching our students.

Originally from Colombia, Javier Palomares has a degree in Industrial Design from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana and graduated with honors from ArtCenter in 2003 with a degree in Product Design. Today, as founder of design firm Curve Ahead, a design firm specializing in the full range of capabilities that develops ideas into innovative solutions for consumer products and furniture, his designs have been displayed at the High Point Market, Bernhardt Design at ICFF, Javits Center, and the Dwell in Design show, Los Angeles. He also teaches at ArtCenter.

ArtCenter News: How has working at ArtCenter changed you (or how have your students changed your work)?

Javier Palomares: ArtCenter is a great place to work. I am very grateful and fortunate to be surrounded by design in all its forms, at all times.

AN: Where do you go for inspiration?

JP: Two main factors inspire me in every design project. The first is nature, in which I find endless possibilities for new designs when studying and admiring the living form. The second is traveling, which has allowed me to explore fascinating new places and cultures and learn about the way they see and go through everyday life.

AN: What’s the one thing you can’t live without?

JP: I always keep a sketchbook and pen nearby, as well as a good cup of coffee.

AN: How do you define success?

JP:  Success is difficult to define, but to me, it is finding the perfect balance between being happy doing the work that you do and making the people you love happy as well.

Product Design student’s summer internship at TOMS a first for ArtCenter

Photo by Juan Posada

Photo by Juan Posada

Continuing our series on Summer internships, we checked in with Product student Zoe Xiong, who interned at TOMS this past summer. Headquartered in Los Angeles, TOMS, the name derived from the words “Tomorrow’s Shoe,” was founded in 2006 with the promise of delivering one pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair of shoes sold. The company has since launched other products including eyewear, coffee, bags and backpacks. Zoe was TOMS’ first ArtCenter intern.

ArtCenter News: Can you tell us a little about TOMS and its internship program?

Zoe Xiong: TOMS’ mission is to be in business to improve lives by giving back to people and the community. The company is still small so when you’re an intern here you have the advantage of learning about all aspects of the business, such as marketing, merchandising and branding.

AN: How did you get your internship?

ZX: I found the internship through Linkedin, which is a great resource for someone looking for internship opportunities. I was selected because of the strength of my student projects—they demonstrated that I had the skills, developed over my first five terms at ArtCenter, needed to get the job done.

AN: How does this internship fit in the grand scheme of the career path that you want to craft for yourself?

ZX: My goal is to become a well-rounded soft goods and wearables designer. I’ve only had one internship before this which was in the performance sportswear field. To balance that out I decided to come here to TOMS which is more focused on go-to-market products and designs.

“We are always pleased to hear a student is the first ArtCenter intern at a company,” says Amanda Webb, director of ArtCenter’s Career and Professional Development Department (CPD), “and we’re excited about our new partnership with TOMS.”

CPD supports students interested in interning by offering resources, best practices information and tools to ensure they take full advantage of their internship opportunities wherever they are found—through ArtCenter Connect, networking, approaching a company directly, or, as in this case, LinkedIn. Although the office provides resources to help all students throughout their internship experience, if a student wants to receive academic credit, they must register their internship with CPD by Week 1 of their internship term. For more information about internships and how to get one, stop in at the Career and Professional Development (CPD) office or visit

Shifting roles for two pioneering education leaders

Photos by Juan Posada

Photos by Juan Posada

Our Graduate Media Design Practices (MDP) program asks students to investigate emerging technologies, develop new methodologies and apply design to global social issues. For the past 13 years, the program has been led, shaped and directed by freshly-minted PhD, Dr. Anne Burdick. Our Undergraduate Interaction Design (IxD) program, chaired by user experience pioneer Maggie Hendrie, has a similar focus—using cutting edge technology with a focus on the user experience to design cohesive systems that can deeply impact people’s lives. When Burdick informed the College that she was going to shift career focus and step down as MDP chair, Provost Karen Hofmann saw an opportunity to align these two programs and tapped Maggie Hendrie to lead them both as chair of IxD and MDP.

“The two programs already have a shared community of practice, including alumni, faculty, creative and industry relationships, as well as shared use of materials, labs and makerspaces. Aligning the two allows ArtCenter to create new student pathways and expertise in emerging areas of creative technology. Both programs are committed to engagement with diverse social, cultural and technological contexts,” explained Hofmann, who consulted with faculty, students, staff and alumni of the program as well as executive and educational leadership to better understand the needs of the department.

Burdick has decided to pursue a new career path as a designer, educator, critic and researcher and will be dividing her time between Los Angeles and Sydney. She will have a dual affiliation with ArtCenter as an Adjunct Professor and with the School of Design at the University of Technology Sydney as a Research Professor.

In announcing the change in leadership, Hofmann noted, “during her tenure as Chair, Anne served ArtCenter in tremendous ways as an educational leader – she was one of the first co-chairs of the Chairs Council, helped the College define shared governance, spearheaded visioning processes and served on numerous committees focusing on advancing design education, research and technologies at ArtCenter. We are grateful for Anne’s service to the College and for defining and leading one of the most compelling and unique graduate design programs in the country.”

Reflecting on her tenure leading the MDP program, Burdick said,It’s been a privilege to lead a risk-taking department at ArtCenter during a time of expansion and invention. When I started we were tucked into a corner on the Hillside Campus. In the last decade, we have doubled in size, turned the Wind Tunnel into a maker space, studio and cultural venue, all while developing a world-class experimental design MFA. Our projects have brought us from the Silicon Valley to Kampala, Uganda. What a wild ride! I couldn’t be prouder of the faculty team, our amazing graduates and all that we have accomplished together.”

Hendrie, who was hired in 2012 to develop the Bachelor of Science program in Interaction Design, has been instrumental in developing interaction for automotive practice and curriculum as well. As chair, she helped organize the Data to Discovery symposium and ongoing programs with NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology, bringing computer science and design students together with researchers and engineers to develop interactive visualization tools.

She is a user experience pioneer with more than 20 years of experience in new interactive product/service strategy, digital product design, project management, user-centered design, and usability and user experience testing. In 2004, she founded Sony Pictures Entertainment’s User Experience Competency Center and, as director, was responsible for working with divisions worldwide to integrate usability, information architecture and interaction into Sony devices and cross-platform projects. Prior, she was creative director for user experience at Whittman-Hart/MarchFirst, director of client solutions at Caresoft, strategy director at Manifest Digital and senior user interface designer at CyberMedia.

She is also the principal of Maggie Hendrie Design, a cross-channel business and service solution firm providing mobile and web apps, social media campaigns and consumer-facing online tools for various companies, including venture capital investors, managements consultancies, autonomous automotive and multiple verticals. She received her MA in liberal arts from the University of Edinburgh, her MS in communication and information sciences from the Sorbonne Nouvelle University and her DEA in multimedia design and communication from the University of Paris VIII.

Hendrie offered the following perspective on moving forward in her new role: “Joining forces in undergraduate BS and graduate MFA programming allows ArtCenter to break new ground across the spectrum of emerging technologies; from human-centered professional applications to speculative, exploratory art and design. MDP has long been a model for innovative and experimental creative and academic practice and IxD has grown from a handful of students in our first cohort to nearly 100 students in the program today. Together they are successfully developing pathways for students in creative and professional practice, academia and research. Experimentation in research, design and practice influences new teaching models and student experiences. Together they demonstrate ArtCenter’s thought leadership in human-centered design, critical making and emerging professional practices.”

The College has benefitted greatly from Burdick’s leadership and we are thrilled she will continue to contribute to the education of our students. We are also incredibly fortunate to have another pioneering educational leader in-house who is perfectly suited to take on the challenge of following in her footsteps.

Orientation: Getting A New Crop of Students Ready for ArtCenter

Photos and interviews by Juan Posada.

Photos and interviews by Juan Posada.

“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” Malcolm X

Orientation is a week defined by securing ID cards and parking passes, touring the campus, eating, listening, asking and observing. We spoke with some of the Fall 2019 entering class to find out what they are looking forward to now they have arrived. We also asked Orientation leaders for the best advice they have for the newbies. We’ve included six here—three incoming and three mentors. Be sure to check out our Facebook and Instagram accounts for more images, impressions and advice, and contribute to the discussion with your own ArtCenter survival tips.

Clockwise, starting from the top left:

  • Orientation leader Jordan Miller, 7th term Illustration: “Be sure to make time for yourself.”
  • Incoming Film student RJ Deleon Vega: “Being able to learn from the best and having an outlet to express myself and be inspired by this great environment.”
  • Orientation leader Debby Kang, 5th term Entertainment Design: “Be yourself, don’t worry about others.”
  • Incoming Photography and Imaging student Alexis Pedroza: “Looking forward to becoming a photoshop wizard and learning to shoot street photography.”
  • Orientation leader Taytym Blake, 4th term Photography and Imaging: “Just make school your number one priority.”
  • Incoming Product Design student Rens Kierkels: “Looking forward to being with people from diverse countries who do things in different ways.”

Some of the best advice we’ve heard over the years: Get enough sleep. Get away from school occasionally. Don’t speed on Lida.

Transportation Design Student Finds Synergy Interning at World’s Largest EV Company

Transportation Design student Omar Gonzalez. Photo by Juan Posada

Transportation Design student Omar Gonzalez. Photo by Juan Posada

We recently visited with Transportation Design major Omar Gonzalez to find out about his internship at BYD, the world’s largest manufacturer of electric vehicles. Bloomberg Businessweek describes BYD as “the No. 1 producer of plug-in vehicles globally, attracting a tiny fraction of the attention of Elon Musk’s company while powering, to a significant extent, a transition to electrified mobility that’s moving faster in China than in any other country.” Last year BYD sold more than 113,000 plug-in electric vehicles worldwide and currently has nearly 40,000 electric buses in service around the world.

ArtCenter News: What do you admire about BYD as a company?

Omar Gonzalez: Personally what I really admire from the automotive industry is innovation—allowing for a broad perspective of what the future could possibly be. Today the car industry is experiencing a huge and revolutionary change transitioning from gasoline to fully electric vehicles. As the world’s largest electric vehicle company, BYD motors is really helping to make this transition a reality.

What I really like about the company is that started in 1995 in China as an energy company focusing on batteries and expanded from there—in 2003, it entered the automotive industry and subsequently entered the LED and energy storage business and added PV solar panel production in 2008, and the rail transit industry in 2010-2011. I believe energy is one of the most important problems facing society and I totally respect companies that are into the future of energy efficiency.

AN: Can you tell your fellow students why they should consider taking the time to do an internship?

OG: I believe an internship is a very important experience that each student should strive for because working in the design studios allows you learn about the industry and experience the expectations of the working in a studio from the designers.

Furthermore, it helps you decide if that is what you want to do for the rest of your life. I believe it is a very important question that everyone has to ask themselves because in this small industry if you don’t love what you do, it is very hard to get real success and fulfillment. In other words, students should be very committed to becoming great designers by working on their skills as much as necessary to be the best.

“BYD is an attractive company for many of our students who are passionate about designing for the future and are looking for opportunities to develop clean energy and sustainable design solutions,” notes Amanda Webb, director of ArtCenter’s Career and Professional Development Department, “a number of students have had rewarding internships with BYD and we have alumni working at BYD locations worldwide.”

For more information about internships and how to get one, stop in at the Career and Professional Development (CPD) office or visit

Sometimes leadership finds you—Student Leadership Award winner Arotin Hartounian

Photo by Juan Posada

Photo by Juan Posada

The Student Leadership Award, bestowed on one graduating student each term, doesn’t come with a stipend, scholarship grant or new car. Yet it is one of the most coveted honors awarded at graduation. What really sets this award apart from other achievements is that it recognizes efforts that are optional—it allows us as an institution to say thank you to students who have devoted time to improve the ArtCenter community—time that is taken away from course work, personal obligations or rest.

This term’s Student Leadership Award Winner, Product Design graduate Arotin Hartounian, didn’t exactly stumble into leadership positions, nor did he seek them out, but when he saw a need he stepped forward and accepted responsibility

The larger ArtCenter community was introduced to Arotin in 2012, when he was taking classes through ArtCenter at Night (now ArtCenter Extension) and was featured on ArtCenter News. Immigrating from Iran with his parents at the age of 10, he told us, “As a kid, I was always drawing and experimenting with images, but the thought of pursuing art as a career never crossed my mind. That would have been unimaginable. Those opportunities just don’t exist in Iran.”

Once high school art teachers alerted him to the career possibilities of artists and designers, Arotin set his sights on ArtCenter, first working as an employee at the Follett Student Store prior to enrolling in the Product Design Department in 2015. He immediately engaged with the student-run group EcoCouncil, which has traditionally has been one of the College’s most active and stable student initiatives. At the time Arotin joined, however, EcoCouncil was suffering from a lack of leadership and direction. By his second term, Arotin was named its President, a position he held for the next 8 terms. He helped revitalize the group and, during his tenure, EcoCouncil dedicated renewed efforts in community gardening, spearheaded the installation of filtered water stations throughout campus, hosted regular flea market sales for students to buy and sell materials from each other and installed hubs around campus for donating unused materials. Their biggest project was working with the College towards creating a zero-waste institution by focusing attention on sustainability and creating a mechanism to help students share unused and old supplies.

Arotin’s natural leadership skills were once again put to the test when he participated in a Sponsored Project course that offered a promising collaboration—ArtCenter students from different majors joined with students from USC’s School of Architecture to reimagine the visitor experience for the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles (MOCA). The collaboration experienced a rocky start—a rift started to develop between ArtCenter and USC students and then things deteriorated further when disagreements between students from the different ArtCenter majors emerged. Noticing a leadership gap, Arotin stepped in and took on the role as project manager. The time and effort he devoted to resolving conflicts and clearing up miscommunications was rewarded when team dynamics improved and the team was able to collaborate on their final presentation to the museum director and members of the MOCA board.

A faculty member wrote, “Arotin is one of those rare students who makes a positive impact in just about every activity he participates in.”

Arotin was also an active participant in the ArtCenter Business Club, helping organize guest speakers and other campus programming. His interest in business, lead him to be a part of ArtCenter’s collaboration with INSEAD, where he helped facilitate a design-thinking workshop for design executives. In addition to that opportunity, Arotin received a Designmatters fellowship that allowed him to participate as an intern in the Los Angeles Innovation Team, an in-house design and data consultancy to the Mayor of Los Angeles. Arotin also pursued a study abroad opportunity to study atr the Oslo School of Architecture and Design. Thanks to a Diversity and Access Travel Award, he was able to attend the Norway Ocean Summit and was chosen to represent both ArtCenter and the Oslo School of Architecture and Design at RSD7, the Relating Systems Design and Thinking 7 conference in Turin, Italy. Over the years, Arotin has served our internal community by providing leadership where it was much-needed and he served the College as an ambassador ably representing ArtCenter internationally.

As always, the selection committee was faced with a difficult choice in choosing the award winner. All nominees have contributed to the ArtCenter community in myriad different ways and we will certainly miss them all.

Staffers are going to miss long-term student worker Illustration major Alec Bickelhaupt, who started working as an Orientation Leader his second term at ArtCenter and never stopped. By the time he graduates this week he will have served 16 terms in this role. Additionally, he worked Career and Professional Development’s Recruitment Open House event approximately seven times and served three terms as a Tour Guide for Admissions.

Product Design major Nish Gupta also worked as an Orientation Leader and subsequently served as the Product Design representative to the College’s student government organization, ACSG. As Product Design representative, Nish initiated a popular Student-Faculty Talk Series to enhance the student-faculty bond. He also organized a game night for a little recreation after midterms—team Pictionary was apparently the perfect game for ArtCenter students.

Advertising major Sophia de Lara’s start with co-curricular activities started when she volunteered to be part of the 2007 TEDxACCD event. Sophia found the experience of working with a team of fellow students fulfilling and that inspired her to become involved in ACSG in various roles. She also joined the Antiracist Classroom student organization, teaming with the founders to create spaces for students to heal, learn, create community and feel empowered.

Graphic Design major Charles Lin took grief and turned it into the inspiration that drove his time at ArtCenter. After applying and receiving a coveted Student Leadership Educational Development (SLED) Grant, he reconnected with his love for theater and successfully advocated for producing a live performance instead if creating a digital installation. He subsequently used this success to find a way to incorporate live performance into other classes. By advocating for his passion, he was able to craft the education he wanted.

Andres Zavala, originally from Tijuana, pursued his love of architecture while studying Environmental Design at ArtCenter. He served as a Teaching Assistant for three terms, participated in the Designmatters’ Safe Niños Studio in Santiago, Chile and received a Social Relevant scholarship from IIDA for his Nest project, an emergency temporary housing solution.

ArtCenter thanks and congratulates all the nominees for their commitment and dedication to making the College a more compassionate, transformative and life-changing environment for all of us.

It’s a bittersweet goodbye for CSE staff as longtime student worker set to graduate

Alec and the CSE team. Photo courtesyCeleste Guarneri

Alec and the CSE team. Photo courtesyCeleste Guarneri

Graduation is a time for all of us to celebrate, congratulate and applaud our students as they set out to make the world a better place, armed with a degree from ArtCenter. It is always a little bittersweet, however, as we once again have to say goodbye to our graduating students. Three times a year it feels like we are we standing on the shore waving as they sail off seeking adventure and opportunity.

For offices and departments that regularly employ student workers, graduation also often means the departure of a valued colleague.

This term, the Center for the Student Experience (CSE), Career and Professional Development and Admissions are losing a much-relied on and much-loved staffer, Illustration major Alec Bickelhaupt. Alec started working as an Orientation Leader his second term at ArtCenter. By the time he graduates next week he will have served 16 terms in this role, as well as serving as of the CSE’s student workers for the past 10 terms. Additionally, he has worked Career and Professional Development’s Recruitment Open House event approximately seven times and served as a Tour Guide for Admissions for three terms.

We checked in with CSE’s Celeste Guarneri to find out a little more about Alec and how their office is going to manage without him.

Campus News: What is your role at the College and how do you interact with student workers?

Celeste Guarneri: I help to connect students to resources, each other, and the Los Angeles area through Orientation, campus events, off-campus trips, co-curricular programs, clubs and ACSG. I also help to coordinate the SLED Grants and #workingit Student Success Series. Through these roles it has been my pleasure to work with over 100 student workers each year! I help to train them, get them acclimated to the role they have been hired to, and assign day-of and long-term design projects and tasks.

CN: Is it common for a student to become an Orientation Leader in just their second term?

CG: Over the last couple of years we have seen a rise in applications from 1st term students, interested in an Orientation leader position in their second semester at ArtCenter. But, I attribute that to the Student Leaders doing such a great job during Orientation week, that they’ve inspired their peers to take interest in the position.

Alec was a rarity in his time. My first ArtCenter Orientation in this role, was Alec’s Orientation (Summer 2014). Right from the start, Alec was attentive, polite, helpful and detail oriented. We connected immediately, and I knew I needed a student with his spirit and drive to help me be successful in this new environment. Over the years, we have worked together very closely in many capacities, but his role in Orientation will be hard to replace.

CN: You were overheard saying you didn’t know how you were going to get through Orientation without Alec—how have his contributions differed from other student workers that have come through your office?

CG: Alec has a keen eye for solutions, before problems sometimes even present themselves. He can put himself in my shoes, in the shoes of a new student and in the shoes of the Leaders, which puts me at an unparalleled advantage when it comes to planning and hosting nearly 900 new students each year. He is a hard worker and never leaves a teammate, including me, unsupported. It has been rare in my 15+ years in student affairs, to find a student that cares as much about the community as we do. Alec has proven time and time again that he can take direction, problem solve and lead with kindness.

To be honest, we have been very lucky in the CSE, in terms of our student employees. This is no “fluff job”… Due to the nature and pace of our office in this community, we need student workers who go above and beyond, can be trusted with sensitive information and who know a little about a lot of things.  To toot Alec’s horn just a bit more though, he has been the only one in my memory to ever dive into the international student process in such depth. He recognized that he could help students beyond what was expected of him and he learned processes that allowed him to be and advocate and aid to all international students through the CSE.

CN: How did Alec come to spend so much time as a student worker?

CG: It happened relatively organically. When Alec first started at ArtCenter, we were still mostly under “one roof” for undergraduate students. I would see him around campus, and he would make a point of stopping by the CSE to check-in. I hired him as an Orientation Leader for the start of the Spring 2014 term and we never lost sight of each other. His friends worked with me in ACSG and in the CSE, so it was seamless as he began to take on other roles within our office. Flash-forward nearly 5 years, and he has “brought in” students who now work for us, use our services, and lucky for us, just stop by to say hello. He leads by example, through and through.

The lovefest goes both ways. Alec recently reflected, “This essay was supposed to be about how I contributed to the ArtCenter community but it made me realize how central ArtCenter is to my life. I’ve found a future fiancé, life-long friends, supportive mentors and most importantly, my voice.”


Alum Bob Matsumoto recalls childhood detention for H&S class

Photo courtesy Bob Matsumoto

Photo courtesy Bob Matsumoto

We dropped in on Michelle Katz’s Human Rights Movements in the U.S. course to watch Bob Matsumoto (BFA 63 Advertising) deliver a powerful presentation on his experience being detained as a four-year-old in the Manzanar War Relocation Center—one of ten camps where Japanese Americans were incarcerated during World War II.

“The red, white and blue barbed wire represents us as Americans. The black background represents our darkest period,” said Matsumoto as he passed around a framed poster he designed, which was featured in a recent exhibit on the relocation camps at L.A.’s Japanese American Museum. “I have work in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. But the poster is far more meaningful to me.”

Group photo from Manzanar War Relocation Center.  Young Matsumoto is almost dead center with his family behind him. Photo courtesy Bob Matsumoto.

Group photo from Manzanar War Relocation Center. Young Matsumoto is almost dead center with his family behind him. Photo courtesy Bob Matsumoto

He then screened Voices Long Silent, a short documentary he produced using his family’s personal photos and archival images from Manzanar narrated with a voice over quoting high ranking government officials’ explanations for jailing Americans based solely on their ethnicity. His film screened for the congressional committee assembled by President Jimmy Carter, who investigated the camps and recommended the reparation payments eventually made to all interned families.

Young Matsumoto at Manzanar War Relocation Center. Detail from group photo above. Photo courtesy Bob Matsumoto

Young Matsumoto at Manzanar War Relocation Center. Detail from group photo above. Photo courtesy Bob Matsumoto

“What’s happening at the border today is very similar to what happened to us,” says Matsumoto in response to a question about his motivation for making socially impactful art. “Use your talents. Speak up. Do something worthwhile.”

Students immerse themselves in IMVU Sponsored Projects class

Student presenting in IMVU Sponsored Project course. Photo by Juan Posada

Student presenting in IMVU Sponsored Project course. Photo by Juan Posada

In a Summer Term Sponsored Projects course, Online Avatars & Digital Landscapes, IMVU, the world’s largest avatar-based 3D social network, asked ArtCenter students to design 3D experiences that promote social connections.

“IMVU seeks to help our global community build real-life connections in virtual environments,” said Victor Zaud, SVP of marketing at IMVU and an ArtCenter alum. “We provide an interactive space where millions of users experience 3D creations and connect with one another on a deeper level than just chat. As society increasingly relies on online environments to connect, we’re dedicated to partnering with the young innovators who are designing the communication platforms of the future.”

“ArtCenter has a long history of bringing students and brands together to create valuable immersive learning experiences,” said Maggie Hendrie, chair of Interaction Design at ArtCenter. “Year after year, companies like Adidas, Jaguar and Google collaborate with our students and faculty in order to stay relevant and competitive.”

“The IMVU studio is an empowering educational experience because it expands student design skills by allowing them to immediately build and test concepts with millions of people in a live, 3D social environment,” said Jenny Rodenhouse, assistant professor, director of the Immersion Lab at ArtCenter and faculty of the IMVU studio class. Ming Tai, associate professor, faculty director of Graphics Design and Illustration, and faculty of the IMVU studio class, added, “The student teams learn to ideate, design, release, and repeat, iterating on new scenarios that have received real-time feedback. Students are learning how their work can actually facilitate digital socializing within IMVU, not hypothetically.”

“IMVU has been working to spread the power of friendship for over 15 years. It’s not easy to create the warmth of a friend’s smile or the visceral excitement of a concert in a digital world but they’ve made great progress as the world’s leading avatar-centric social network. I’m excited to see them partner with premiere institutions like ArtCenter to push forward the cutting edge and help millions more feel a greater sense of belonging,” adds Shawn Carolan, partner at Menlo Ventures.

Read the entire press release here.

More information about this and other Sponsored Projects can be found on our website.

Summer Internship Perfect Fit for Product Student Passionate About Empathetic Medical Device Design

Photo by Juan Posada

Photo by Juan Posada

Summer is a time for travel, vacation, bar-b-ques, beach days and, for many ArtCenter students, a great time to pursue an internship. We decided it was a good time to visit some students on location to check in on their summer internship experience.

First up, Yanqi Li, fifth term Product Design major, who is interning at Karten Design, a product design firm located in Marina del Rey.

ArtCenter News: What do you admire about Karten as a company?

Yanqi Li: Karten Design is a small studio, formed by both designers and engineers, making it very flexible and versatile, that focuses mainly on medical device design. I developed a passion for this work during my studies at ArtCenter. During the studio class, “Design for Health and Wellbeing” I had the opportunity to talk to several patients and learned that most medical devices are really outdated and there is not enough effort being directed to this area, which is highly in need because of its close relationship with ergonomics and empathy— two important parts in product design. Karten’s design process emphasizes understanding deep user empathy in creating products for consumers, patients, caregivers and clinical professionals in the healthcare field.

Also, as a small studio, I really get the chance to work on everything—from idea sketching to logo design, from mechanical engineering to electrical engineering—which I find is really amazing.

AN: What do you hope to get out of this internship?

YL: I hope by interning in a studio, I will learn how the real design world is different from studio classes and get more practical training. Also, I want to learn from other designers, develop my own work flow and improve on things I am not yet good at.

Karten Design
 frequently offers internship opportunities to ArtCenter students and employs several of our alumni. Amanda Webb, who heads ArtCenter’s Career and Professional Development Department, notes, “we love working with Karten Design—they regularly provide a rewarding internship experience for our students.”

For more information about internships and how to get one, stop in at the Career and Professional Development (CPD) office or visit