Author Archive

Alumni from across the country gather to celebrate the life of graphic designer Doug “Big Dog” Oliver

Friday, April 3rd, 2015
Graphic Design Doug "Big Dog" Oliver passed away in December 2014.

Graphic Design Doug “Big Dog” Oliver passed away in December 2014. Photo courtesy of Kyle Oliver.

Ask anybody who knew Graphic Design alumnus Doug Oliver (BFA 78) to describe the late designer’s personality and you’re likely to hear “larger than life.”

That reputation rang true last month when approximately 60 individuals—friends, family, colleagues and Art Center alumni—gathered on March 19 at Lithographix in Hawthorne, California for an informal celebration of the man’s life.

The Kansas-born Oliver, who passed away last December at the age of 63, left an indelible mark in the graphic design world. The annual reports he designed for institutions like the W.M. Keck Foundation and Northrop Grumman transformed potentially laborious information into exquisite works that captured the reader’s imagination.

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Forget smartwatches, Art Center students imagine a world of tech-fueled superpowers

Friday, March 27th, 2015
Giselle Guo and Zhihan Ying's App Couture project. Photos: Juan Posada

Giselle Guo’s and Zhihan Ying’s App Couture project. Photos: Juan Posada

We have less than a month to go before the Apple Watch either launches wearables into the stratosphere or delegates the product category to the 21st-century equivalent of a Tamagotchi.

Well, okay, it’s actually not that simple. In fact, numerous signs over the past five years point to long-term interest in the field: Fitbit’s popular activity tracker, first released in 2009, continues to sell well; Pebble, which shattered Kickstarter records in 2012 to fund the creation of the first ever smartwatch, is gaining praise for its latest crowd-funded iteration; and last June, LG and Samsung released smartwatches running Google’s Android Wear operating system, and companies like Sony, Asus and Huawei have since followed suit.

But for years now, Art Center students have been looking beyond activity trackers and smartwatches and instead exploring a myriad of future possibilities for wearables.

Last week at SXSW, Media Design Practices (MDP) alumnus Sangli Li (MFA 15) took home an Interactive Innovation Award in the Student Innovation category for Expressive Wearable, his stylish and high-tech headgear that expresses its wearer’s attitude. Li created this project, which Fast Company described as “a Steampunk take on Kentucky Derby fashion” for the MDP course Wearable Ecologies co-taught by Professor Phil van Allen.

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Saturday High “Comic Book Illustration” students develop their voice, one panel at a time

Monday, March 16th, 2015
Student work from Saturday High's "Comic Book Illustration" class.

Student work from Saturday High’s Comic Book Illustration class.

It may be fashionable these days to take shots at movies based on comic books—Hello, Mr. Eastwood!—but contrary to popular belief, comic books are not a single genre. Rather, they are a visual storytelling medium that has evolved over hundreds of years.

Today, comics are used to tell all kinds of stories—everything from coming-of-age dramas like Craig Thompson’s Blankets to the wartime journalism of Joe Sacco’s Safe Area Gorazde.

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Harriet Rubin on speaking beauty to power and rebranding the meaning of leadership

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015
Princessa: Machiavelli for Women by Harriet Rubin

Princessa: Machiavelli for Women by Harriet Rubin

Last week, the Humanities and Sciences department played host to Harriet Rubin, Art Center’s first Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow.

Rubin founded Currency, an imprint of Doubleday. She has written for The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, was a senior writer and columnist for Fast Company (a “Currency Magazine” prototype became Fast Company), and is the author of Soloing: Realizing Your Life’s Ambition,  Princessa: Machiavelli for Women and Dante in Love: The World’s Greatest Poem and How it Made History.

Rubin spent a week at the College spurring discussions both in and out of classrooms; and on Wednesday she presented an Art Center Dialogues lecture titled “The Secret Life of Leaders,” which included a thought-provoking discussion on the nature of leadership and the powerful role that poet-priests play as societal influencers.

Below are highlights from her lecture:

On the word “leadership”:
“Leadership” is a word we use a lot, but it is sounding increasingly archaic,  like “zoo” or “Triceratops” or “mini-skirts.” The media, Washington, business schools, colleges all talk reverently about leadership, but why? This Monday I heard two wonderful presentations by students in Gerardo Herrera’s class on marketing Coffee-mate to millenials. And it occurred to me that leadership may be just like Coffee-mate. Maybe that’s what we should do with leadership. We need to rebrand it.

On the actual power of “leadership”:
We’re living in a bottom-up world. Social media undermines centralized power. Flash mobs, Kickstarter, sleeper cells, tribal consciousness, shadow governments. The most-watched TV anchor Brian Williams, the leader in TV news, is revealed as no leader at all. I keep wondering if secretly nobody wants to be a leader. Maybe Brian Williams created the circumstances of his own firing. Maybe he really wanted to get out of his soulless role, and the only way he thought he could do it was by kicking it all apart.

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The pursuit of perfect sound: Eleven key takeaways from Daniel Sennheiser’s BOLD lecture

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015
Sennheiser CEO's Daniel Sennheiser (left) and Dr. Andreas Sennheiser.

Sennheiser CEO’s Daniel Sennheiser (left) and Dr. Andreas Sennheiser.

Last month, Art Center welcomed Sennheiser co-CEO and Product Design alumnus Daniel Sennheiser (BS 96) to Hillside Campus to inaugurate its BOLD Lecture Series.

Speaking to a group of students and alumni packed into the Los Angeles Times Auditorium, Sennheiser shared lessons he’s learned as a creative entrepreneur and gave a behind-the-scenes look at how he’s implementing a culture of design thinking into his family’s venerable audio company—a company whose many achievements include revolutionizing personal audio by creating the world’s first on-ear headphones in 1968—which this year celebrates its 70th anniversary.

Below are highlights from his presentation:

On failure: It’s very important in your life to have moments where you fail. Failure is part of the journey. You learn it everyday in school when you go through moments where you feel like you’re failing. I still fail at a lot of things, but I get back up. And ultimately, success is standing up once more than you fall.

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Legendary industrial designer, alumnus Kenji Ekuan, passes away at age 85

Monday, February 9th, 2015
Product Design alumnus Kenji Ekuan (BS 57), second from right, arrives in the United States in the 1950s.

Product Design alumnus Kenji Ekuan (BS 57), second from right, arrives in the United States in the 1950s.

It is with great sadness that we report on the passing of Product Design alumnus Kenji Ekuan (BS 57). The legendary industrial designer died on February 8, at the age of 85.

A former Buddhist monk and the founder of GK Design Group, Ekuan designed everything from the Akita Shinkansen high-speed train, Yahama VMAX motorcylces and the iconic Kikkoman soy sauce dispenser, the latter which resides in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection.

As NPR reported this morning, Ekuan’s decision to become a designer had roots in the bombing of Hiroshima in 1946, an attack which killed his sister and his father. ”Faced with brutal nothingness, I felt a great nostalgia for something to touch, something to look at,” he told Japanese broadcaster NHK. “The existence of tangible things is important. It’s evidence that we’re here as human beings.”

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Goodbye boob tube. Hello, smart TV: Yves Behar unveils the Samsung S9W at CES

Friday, January 16th, 2015
The S9W, created as part of a partnership between Fuseproject and Samsung.

The S9W, created as part of a partnership between Fuseproject and Samsung.

In order for any one product to stand out at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES)—the annual convention held in Las Vegas in which thousands of companies show off their latest and greatest electronic devices—it has to be something special. And if that product happens to be a television set—a product category in which differentiation is not always the name of the game—then it must be something spectacular.

“Spectacular” seems an appropriate way to describe Samsung’s upcoming S9W, an Ultra High Definition ultra-thin curved TV co-designed by Product Design alumnus Yves Behar’s (BS ‘91) Fuseproject studio—whose iconic designs include Jawbone’s Up activity tracker, the One Laptop Per Child computer, and the SAYL chair for Herman Miller—and Samsung’s senior vice president and designer Yun-je Kang.

The S9W was unveiled by Samsung at last week’s CES and it was immediately lauded by the press. Bloomberg Businessweek called it a “sculptural masterpiece”; The Verge called it “as much a piece of art as it is a consumer electronics product”; and WIRED called it “the clutter-free curved TV of your dreams.”

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Art Center’s Alumni Awards span the Nissan Cube, Airbnb and camel convoys

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014
Nissan's senior vice president and chief creative officer Shiro Nakamura (BS 81). Photo: Nissan

Nissan’s senior vice president and chief creative officer Shiro Nakamura (BS 81). Photo: Nissan

“As much as this recognition sits well with me, it’s also a reflection of this institution,” said Banza Ltd. founder and Product Design alumnus Patrick Kiruki (BS 05) at the Fall 2014 graduation ceremony on December 13, as he accepted Art Center’s Alumni Award in the category of Outstanding Service. “Art Center embodies the true meaning of an education by allowing each and every student to excel in what fires them up every morning.”

Each year, Art Center presents a select group of alumni with the Art Center Alumni Award in a number of categories. This year the College awarded the Lifetime Achievement award to Transportation Design alumnus Shiro Nakamura (BS 81); the Young Alumni Innovator award to Product Design alumna Katie Dill (BS 07); and the Outstanding Service award to Kiruki.

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On fueling creativity with kindness (not Red Bull): Student Leadership Award winner Fernando Olmedo

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014
Entertainment Design student Fernando Daniel Olmedo won the Fall 2014 Student Leadership Award.

Student Leadership Award winner Fernando Olmedo. Photo: Chuck Spangler

“Something I always made a point to do as I walked through the halls was to smile,” said graduating Entertainment Design student Fernando Olmedo, during his acceptance speech at this past Saturday’s graduation ceremony for Art Center’s annual Student Leadership Award. “No matter how tired I was, I made sure that I looked in people’s eyes and smiled.”

“And something pretty remarkable always happened when I smiled,” continued Olmedo, who was selected among several candidates for the Fall 2014 award by a committee of students, faculty and staff. “For this brief moment, there was this connection, this energy, this spark that came from somewhere deep inside … It worked better than coffee and Red Bull.”

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Art Center in Asia: Onward Singapore

Thursday, December 11th, 2014
Shimano Cycling World, located at the Singapore Sports Hub, was designed by alumnus and Trustee Tim Kobe's (BS 82) Eight Inc., and just won two SPARK awards. Photo: Aarond Pocock

Shimano Cycling World, located at the Singapore Sports Hub, was designed by alumnus and Trustee Tim Kobe’s (BS 82) Eight Inc., and just won two SPARK awards. Photo: Aaron Pocock

In the latest issue of Dot magazine, we explore Art Center’s long history—nearly 60 years—of connections to Asia. Today, we look at the College’s presence in Singapore and its decade-long relationship with INSEAD.

From Beijing, take a six-hour flight south and you’ll find yourself in Singapore, a geographically tiny city-state where tropical rains meet Blade Runner-esque skylines.

Singapore is not only a central hub for Southeast Asian business, but it is also a country banking big on the innovation economy and bending over backwards to lure creative and entrepreneurial talent to its borders.

Just ask Environmental Design alumnus and Art Center Trustee Tim Kobe (BS 82), the founder of Eight Inc., a design firm whose clients include Apple, Citibank and Nokia and which has offices around the world, including Beijing, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Singapore.

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