Author Archive

View from the Bridge: A renovation designed for creation, innovation and collaboration

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014
The 870 building at sunrise. Photo: Darin Johnstone Architects

The 870 building at sunrise. Photo: ©Lawrence Anderson/Esto

As a teacher, I understand well the difference a space can make in the quality of the educational experience. Space affects learning. It makes a difference in how people teach. It makes a difference in how people create.

Which is why when you embark on creating a new space, you want to get it right. You need to talk to the right people and to ask the right questions if you wish to build that place where students can thrive and where faculty will love teaching. You want the space to elevate the whole.

A lot of careful thought went into making sure the new Fine Art and Illustration building at South Campus, 870 S. Raymond Ave. would engender the highest quality teaching and learning possible. I have no doubt that the building will do exactly that. Move through the new space, and you can feel it. It’s buoyant. It’s alive. You feel open to experience, to learning, to discovery—all thanks to the environment itself.

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View from the Bridge: Saluting graduating students and Art Center’s social impact on healthy drinking water and food

Monday, December 16th, 2013
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A Balde Movil prototype is put to the test in Altos del Pino, Bogota, Colombia.

The Fall 2013 term culminated last weekend with our Grad Show—an unqualified success attracting hundreds of industry representatives—and the arrival of our students’ families on campus for graduation. It was my great pleasure to meet many of them and share in their excitement and pride.

I began this weekend’s ceremonies by reading Everything is Waiting for You by David Whyte. An ode to the creative power of community, this poem was born surprisingly out of a moment of deep grief for the author, which makes its vibrant call to action all the more remarkable. The work begins with a warning of isolation—“Your great mistake is to act the drama as if you were alone”—moves to an acknowledged tension of individual identity in the crowd—“Surely, even you, at times, have felt … the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding out your solo voice”—and concludes with an exultant celebration of discovery and the power of entering the “conversation”—“The kettle is singing even as it pours you a drink” and, ultimately, “Everything is waiting for you.”

I shared this poem because I want our graduating students to find the strength to face what is calling them and recognize that they are surrounded by an astonishing depth and plethora of life. I want them to celebrate where the new edges meet and, as the poem suggests, believe they can change the world by their attentive presence.

Our students’ work offers ample evidence that this is all very much underway.

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View from the Bridge: The future of humanities, a rising star at Microsoft, and a multigenerational Car Classic

Thursday, November 14th, 2013
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President Lorne M. Buchman moderating at “The Future of Knowledge” event. Photo: John Dlugolecki

Last week I had the pleasure of moderating an evening panel on “The Future of Knowledge” with the co-authors of Digital_Humanities, a recent publication from MIT Press. Introducing the Art Center Dialogues event in the Ahmanson Auditorium was one of the book’s co-authors: our very own Anne Burdick, Chair of Art Center’s Media Design Practices. In her remarks, she mused that “our bombastic title is actually a serious proposition,” and the presentations and discussion that followed were certainly provocative and opened several important questions about teaching and research in the humanities.

Digital Humanities replaces “the paper” with “the project,” looking to the multi-modal and project-based orientation that is at the heart of creative studio practice. The authors argue that our current ideas about knowledge, interpretation and the cultural record developed in tandem with our long history with print. The digital information age upends old ideas about author, archive, memory and knowledge itself. The book positions designers (and by implication what we teach here at Art Center) as having a major contribution to make as these notions reconfigure along with the technology.

The question of how best to integrate the humanities into Art Center’s curriculum is one I care about very much, and I thank the co-authors—who, in addition to Burdick, included Johanna Drucker, a professor in UCLA’s Department of Information Studies; Peter Lunenfeld, former Art Center instructor and professor at UCLA’s Design Media Arts; Todd Presner, chair of UCLA’s Digital Humanities program; and Jeffrey Schnapp, faculty director of metaLAB at Harvard—for a wonderfully engaging evening.

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View from the Bridge: Art Center’s incoming class, the LEAP Symposium and bringing the Bard to Lida Street

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013
President Lorne M. Buchman

President Lorne M. Buchman

Being surrounded each and every day by thought-provoking ideas and inspiring individuals is perhaps the greatest benefit of working at Art Center. As President, I’m in a unique position to see so much of the remarkable work created here.

A clear side effect—and thankfully, it’s a good one—is that at the end of the day I have a lot on my mind. Which is why I’d like to start sharing with you here, on occasion, my thoughts on what I’m seeing, hearing and experiencing around campus and in the larger community.

First things first: The Fall 2013 term is well underway. Before we reach that busy midterm crunch, I’d like to tell you a few things about our latest incoming class. After receiving the highest number of applicants across all disciplines in our 83-year history, Art Center this fall welcomed 361 undergraduates and 68 graduate students, our largest incoming class ever. The increase reflects the strength and growth of our academic programs, as well as the planned expansion envisioned in Create Change, Art Center’s 2011–2016 strategic plan.

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Remembering Art Center Europe director, Uwe Bahnsen

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013
Art Center Europe director, Uwe Bahnsen

Art Center Europe director, Uwe Bahnsen

It is with much sadness that I write to inform you of the passing of Uwe Bahnsen, a beloved director and leader of Art Center Europe from 1986 to 1995.

Recognized as one of the most influential European automotive designers of the 20th Century, Uwe was an inspiration and role model for our students and faculty during those exciting years in Europe. He was a former Vice President of Design for Ford of Europe, as well as the President of the International Council of Societies of Industrial Designers from 1995 to 1997. He was born in Hamburg, Germany, studied at the College of Fine Arts in Hamburg, was an accomplished painter and sculptor, and was truly one of the most revered and admired leaders of the Art Center campus in Vevey, Switzerland.

Geoff Wardle, currently heading our graduate program in Transportation Design and former chair of the Trans department at Art Center Europe, knew Uwe Bahnsen well and wrote movingly about his admiration and respect for this giant of automobile design:

I have always acknowledged Uwe Bahnsen along with Patrick LeQuement, his protégé, as the two automotive designers who most effectively invested their considerable intellect and energy to elevating the importance of design within the car industry and to the outside world. They did this in a way that has helped all of us who followed in their path. Not only that, both men added gravitas to the profession by truly understanding the full scope of design – as opposed to just styling – and how to fully leverage the contribution of the design process and philosophy into manufacturing industry.

Provost Fred Fehlau, remembering Uwe with great fondness, added the following:

I worked with Uwe when I was teaching one summer in the late ‘80s. He liked fast cars, good food and especially enjoyed working with students. He always had a smile on his face, as if he was getting more from them than they were getting from him. But he never let on.

Art Center has been distinguished throughout its history by many fine and impressive attributes, but nothing is more important or celebrated than the great people who have given so much and who have graced our community with their talent and skill. In Uwe, we have lost a great teacher, a true leader, and a wonderful friend.

Our condolences and warm wishes go to his family at this difficult time.

Dr. Lorne M. Buchman is the president of Art Center College of Design.