Author Archive

Making experience is make-or-break for designers, says Art Center at Night instructor Jesse Ellico

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

Aerospace engineer Jesse Ellico teaches industrial design modeling at Art Center at Night.

“I get to fly airplanes and blow things up,” says Jesse Ellico, an aerospace engineer for Orbital ATK, when asked to describe his job. “It’s a little boy’s dream.”

The first thing Ellico tells students enrolled in his seven-week Introduction to Industrial Design Modeling workshop at Art Center at Night (ACN) is that they’re “going to make stuff and have fun.”

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Art Center students pave the road into the future of autonomous cars

Friday, June 19th, 2015
First cars to travel The Arroyo Seco Parkway in 1940. Photo (detail): Los Angeles Public Library

First cars to travel The Arroyo Seco Parkway in 1940. Photo (detail): Los Angeles Public Library

In On the Road, Jack Kerouac wrote, “What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? – it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”

But what does it mean when that “next crazy venture” is fueled by a set of algorithms?

As we’ve previously reported, the arrival of autonomous cars could very well usher in a new era of safer roads. But might the public be hesitant to hand over the keys of their vehicle–often seen as a bedrock American symbol of freedom–to Apple, Google or Uber?

“The promise of the automobile 100 years ago was being able to go anywhere, anytime,” says alumnus Stewart Reed (69), chair of Art Center’s transportation design programs. “This idea freed people from structuring their lives around stagecoach or train schedules and opened up a world of new experiences.”

What wasn’t the promise 100 years ago? Moving 11,700 vehicles an hour at peak times through the Sepulveda Pass. (more…)

Move over, Siri, and let Nan Wang’s Cartner do the driving

Thursday, June 11th, 2015
Still from graduate Media Design Practices student Nan Wang's Cartner project.

Still from graduate Media Design Practices student Nan Wang’s Cartner project.

Earlier this week at its WWDC 2015 developer’s conference, Apple announced that iOS 9–the next iteration of its operating system for its iPhone and iPad devices–will include a beefed-up “proactive” version of its voice-driven Siri software that will anticipate user’s needs and deliver relevant information in a timely manner.

Cool stuff, right? Now imagine how such a human-computer interface might evolve. And imagine it in your car.

That’s precisely what graduate Media Design Practices (MDP) student Nan Wang envisioned last fall in a course entitled New Car Experiences.

In that studio course led by Associate Professor Ben Hooker, MDP students spent the entire 14-week term creating “video sketches”–polished visualizations intended to spark discussion–based on student research conducted during the previous term in a class also led by Hooker and his MDP colleague Professor Tim Durfee.

“We immersed ourselves in the current visions of the automotive future to find out how different industries think things are going to play out,” says Hooker, whose expertise lies in collaborations within the field of human-computer interaction, of the research that led to the video sketches. “It soon became apparent there wasn’t one clear view, and that there was space for fresh thinking in this arena.”

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Autonomous for the people: cars of the future will need to balance new features with safety

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

 

Still from Media Design Practices students Elaine Cheung’s Connected Mobility “video sketch.”

Still from Media Design Practices students Elaine Cheung’s and Shan Shen’s Connected Mobility.

Last week, Chevrolet announced that more than a dozen of its 2016 cars and trucks would be compatible with Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto, the tech giants’ competing in-dash interfaces for vehicles that connect to the driver’s smartphone.

Considering both CarPlay and Android Auto were only publicly announced last year, the speed of Chevrolet’s adoption of these interfaces could signal a sea change in how quickly automakers respond to consumers’ demands.

Geoff Wardle, executive director of Art Center’s graduate Transportation Systems and Design program, says Silicon Valley’s forays into the transportation arena have lit the proverbial fire under Detroit.

“Traditionally the car industry has designed vehicles over a three- to four-year time period,” says Wardle. “But people want the same features in their cars that they have on their smartphones, which change every few months.”

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Doing the unimaginable: Alum Dan Santat’s Caldecott-winning book to become animated feature

Friday, May 29th, 2015
Detail of an illustration from Beekle by Dan Santat. Courtesy Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Detail of an illustration from Beekle by Dan Santat. Courtesy Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

It’s been quite a year for Illustration alumnus Dan Santat (BFA 01).

Back in February, he was awoken at 4:30 a.m. by a call from the American Library Association (ALA) with the news that his childrens’ book The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend had won the Caldecott, the nation’s most prestigious award for childrens’ literature.

And this Wednesday it was announced that Jason Reitman, the Oscar-nominated director of Thank You for Smoking, Juno and Up in the Air, would be writing and directing an animated film based on Beekle for Dreamworks Animation.

“I was book shopping with my daughter, when a little tooth-shaped character wearing a paper crown stole our hearts,” said Reitman in a press release announcing the deal. “His name was Beekle, and I’m now honored to be adapting Santat’s charming story into a feature film.”

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Future road trip: Autospaces 2025 to explore the changing automotive landscape

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015
Students Angela Dong, Thokozani Mabena,Vivia Liu and Sarineh Issagholian discuss their concepts with Jaguar Land Rover representatives at the New Car Experiences midterm. Photo: Chris Hatcher

Students Angela Dong, Thokozani Mabena,Vivia Liu and Sarineh Issagholian discuss their concepts with Jaguar Land Rover representatives at the New Car Experiences midterm. Photo: Chris Hatcher

It’s the end of the schlep as we know it. And we feel fine.

Well, perhaps not quite yet, but thanks to rapidly evolving technology making autonomous vehicles possible, that daunting commute we face every day may soon be a thing of the past.

Tomorrow in the Wind Tunnel at South Campus, Art Center hosts Autospaces 2025, a one-day symposium that brings together designers, researchers, and government and industry leaders to explore issues of connectivity, trust and mediation with autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles.

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Media Design Practices graduating students explore the contours of invisibility, visibility and spaces in-between

Monday, April 27th, 2015
MDP graduate Jenny Rodenhouse's thesis explores the possibilities of opening test sites to the public. Photo: Chuck Spangler

MDP graduate Jenny Rodenhouse’s thesis explores the possibilities of opening test sites to the public. Photo: Chuck Spangler

Imagine a world where scientific test sites operate like amusement parks, where robots disperse through their environment like seeds in the wind, where algorithms understand and incorporate the nuances of human language, and where the invisible data surrounding us is transformed into navigable terrain.

No, that’s not a back cover synopsis of the latest William Gibson novel, but rather thesis projects by then Media Design Practices (MDP) MFA candidates Jenny Rodenhouse, Ji Won Jun and Marcus Guttenplan, respectively, which were recently presented in the Wind Tunnel as part of that graduate program’s thesis exhibtion.

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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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