Author Archive

How we work, live and shop: Environmental Design grad students redefining the future

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

Drawing on a diverse array of fields, Art Center’s Environmental Design Master of Science program — led by Department Chair David Mocarski — investigates the dynamic qualities of story-driven design, combining conceptual rigor and theoretical thinking with professional practice and a focus on technical innovation, manufacturing, fabrication and project execution. Three recent graduates are redefining the future of the environments we inhabit on a daily basis, as their visionary thesis projects demonstrate.

"Soft Working" office furniture by Hines Fischer

Hines Fischer’s family room-inspired “Soft Working” office furniture system.

Hines Fischer: “Soft Working” office furniture system

For many years the office has been designed around accommodating the desktop computer. Office furniture’s job was to support the tools of the office and their use. But as technology has become more integrated, Hines Fischer (MS 14) believes that the most important thing for office furniture to support is people. The workspace should encourage and nurture people’s interactions, collaborations and ideas.

It’s a concept Fischer calls “Soft Working,” which is the name he gave to a line of furniture he designed as a grad student in Environmental Design’s Furniture and Fixtures track. His concept began with the observation that traditional office environments are formal, emotionally sterile, even forbidding. The meeting room is one place that the office community typically comes together, but — usually centered around a giant table — it too can feel alienating.

Because today’s businesses want their employees collaborating, innovating and working together — to be less of a staff and more of a family — Fischer saw that what the “family room” is to the home, the meeting room could be to the office: a comforting space that encourages interaction, community, mental clarity and openness.

Through its innovative use of form, color and texture, including wood and natural fabrics, Soft Working reinvents the modern office, improving human connection, workflow and productivity.

The Environmental Design program provides students high-level opportunities to engage directly with industry, including the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, North America’s premier annual showcase for contemporary design, where Fischer presented his work two years in a row.

 

"Vertical Farm" by William Shin

“Vertical Farm” urban living design concept by William Shin.

William Shin: “Vertical Farm” mixed-use high-rise

Master’s candidates in the Spatial Experience track look beyond the single object, moment or place to see how collectively these make an impact in projects ranging from branded retail and theme-driven dining, to hospitality, exhibition and residential design. Issues and methodologies of sustainable design are integrated throughout the curriculum.

While a graduate student, William Shin (MS 14) noticed a 21st-century trend toward cities coexisting in greater harmony with nature and the environment. As urban populations increase around the world, the pursuit of different lifestyles in those cities is also increasing. As environment-friendly lifestyles and locovore food culture take root in cities, green spaces and gardens are becoming increasingly important. Already many city dwellers and even commercial restaurants are growing their own vegetables and fruits.

Stepping into role of “conductor,” Shin orchestrated a set of spatial ideas around these emerging realities. His thesis project boldly re-envisions the urban neighborhood in the form of a “Vertical Farm” — a space that combines residential, agricultural, business, educational and leisure activities within a single structure. Centered around organic food production, spaces also foster research and learning, the coming together of families and neighbors, and the pursuit of healthy activities.

Online and offline platforms converge in Shuning Li's "Pinporium" design concept inspired by Pinterest.

Online and offline platforms converge in Shuning Li’s “Pinporium” design concept inspired by Pinterest.

Shuning Li: “Pinporium” retail platform

What’s next? is the driving question behind much of the exploratory and experimental work underway in our studios. Our graduate students see themselves as proactive opportunity seekers in the creative process, ideating and collaborating across disciplines, platforms and cultures.

Inspired by Pinterest, the popular online visual discovery tool used to collect and share ideas, Shuning Li (MS 14) designed “Pinporium” as a dynamic retail platform. More than simply a store, the project proposes an entirely new business model for the retail industry in the digital age. Supported by advanced technology, virtual community, and a focus on interactivity and flexibility, the Pinterest-branded emporium-style retail spaces envisioned by Li in her thesis project would engage and inspire users with a customized shopping experience based on their Pinterest user data and preferences.

In Li’s concept, “pinning” becomes a more powerful act than merely bookmarking and sharing images. Online and offline platforms converge to create dynamic, adaptive spaces that promise more interactivity between shoppers and sellers and significant potential to bring new life to physical stores, with lasting social and economic impact.

To learn more about Art Center’s graduate and undergraduate programs, check out the new 2015–2016 Viewbook.

Capturing Art Center in close-up: Viewbook photographer, alumna Stella Kalinina

Monday, October 13th, 2014
Viewbook photographer Stella Kalinina (BFA 13) with the finished product in hand. (Photo by Chuck Spangler)

Viewbook photographer Stella Kalinina (BFA 13) with the finished product in hand. (Photo by Chuck Spangler)

Remember when you were shopping around for college? You were likely deluged with thick catalogs and eye-catching viewbooks sent by institutions vying for your attention. Even in the internet era, the printed viewbook remains a vital tool for communicating a school’s value proposition to prospective students—especially when it comes to art and design schools.

Art Center’s 2015–2016 Viewbook, showcasing student work in 11 undergraduate and six graduate degree programs, was published in September, both in print and online. Content and design for the biennial publication are developed by a core team of Marketing and Communications staff members, in collaboration with Kit Baron, senior vice president, Admissions and Enrollment Management, and the College’s Provost Fred Fehlau.

High-quality visuals are key to the Viewbook, which this year features contributions from photographer Stella Kalinina (BFA 13), commissioned to capture student life on campus and in classrooms. It was a large and complex project, one that Stella was well prepared for as a recent graduate of the College’s Photography and Imaging program, with its emphasis on technical and professional skills along with creative expression. (more…)

Bringing outside artists in: Fine Art’s diverse programming aims to challenge assumptions

Thursday, September 18th, 2014
Still from Anuj Vaidya's short film Miss Piggy, Live with Diane Sawyer (2013)

Still from Anuj Vaidya’s short film Miss Piggy, Live with Diane Sawyer (2013)

A visiting artist and exhibition series sponsored by the undergraduate Fine Art department, open to the campus community and to the public, is bringing diverse voices and points of view to Art Center. (See full schedule of upcoming programs below.)

“Art students need to see a mix of people and perspectives, otherwise their assumptions about life, society and art are not questioned,” says Fine Art Chair Vanalyne Green. “And what is an art education for, if not to pose questions?”

The programming includes lectures, screenings, performances and exhibitions designed to expose students to artists whose work is thought-provoking and, in many cases, boundary-defying.

Last month, artist, educator and film curator Anuj Vaidya presented “Colour Me Queer: LGBTQ Voices From India,” an array of queer experimental shorts created by himself and others over the past decade.

(more…)

Selling jellyfish on the internet, and other true tales from today’s creative entrepreneurs

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014
Medusae Collection by alumna Roxy Russell.

Medusae Collection by alumna Roxy Russell.

To be bold is to be confident and courageous, willing to take risks. It’s an essential trait shared by a powerhouse group of speakers assembled for BOLD: The Art Center Symposium for Creative Entrepreneurs, a one-day confab and networking event at the College’s Hillside Campus in Pasadena.

At once motivational and practical, the September 6th program offered personal testimonials from successful entrepreneurs, along with concrete skills and strategies that participants—multidisciplinary and multigenerational—could apply to their own creative endeavors.

The question on President Lorne M. Buchman’s mind as he greeted the full house: “What does it take to create a pertinent and relevant design education today? It used to be that the education was set up to get you a job. In 2014, you realize the student body is different, millennials are different. Something has shifted—and it has everything to do with entrepreneurship. There is a power, an insight, an energy, a compulsion even, to create innovation.”

(more…)

Grad Show Preview: Diving into the Summer 2014 talent pool

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Perhaps more than graduation itself, Graduation Show Preview marks the culmination of a student’s years of hard work at Art Center. Each term, on the Thursday before Saturday’s commencement ceremony, the College’s classroom studios, hallways and exhibition spaces come alive with 2D, 3D, digital and other work renowned for both its conceptual rigor and its professional finish. It’s like one giant gallery opening — the Summer 2014 edition brimming with more than 450 invited guests — showcasing some of today’s most innovative and most driven emerging artists and designers.

(more…)

Nailing it: Grad students pioneer wearable tech’s entree into quantified manicures

Friday, July 25th, 2014
Handiwork courtesy of the team behind the Sensor Salon

Handiwork courtesy of the team behind the Sensor Salon

Fresh from wowing a tough techie crowd at Microsoft headquarters in Seattle, Media Design Practices grad students Kristina Ortega and Jennifer Rodenhouse give us the lowdown on their novel nail salon concept that turns fingernails into a dynamic digital platform. The duo first hatched the idea for a “Sensor Salon” in a Wearable Ecologies class sponsored by Intel and led by MDP faculty members Philip van Allen and Ben Hooker. Now it’s taken flight, attracting interest in the field as well as a flurry of media attention,  from public radio to Fast Company and Geekwire among other outlets. Their Wearable Services—proffering technologies embedded in nail gels, from LCD screens and 3D printed objects to GPS and haptic feedback devices—may well be fashioning the future.

The Dotted Line: What was your main inspiration for this unusual type of wearable device?

Kristina Ortega: We were really inspired by nail art culture and nail art salons in Los Angeles. During our initial research into the current state of wearable tech we noticed that many devices were one size fits all. This seemed in such stark contrast to this process of self-maintenance we saw with nail art and salon culture, which is all about the process of personalization.

(more…)

Change Maker: Remembering Chavez Ravine photographer Don Normark

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Don Normark (BFA 49) was a 19-year-old Photography student at Art Center College of Design, taking pictures near the freeway in Los Angeles one day, when a neighborhood high on a distant hillside caught his eye. Normark’s curiosity drew him to Chavez Ravine, an intact rural enclave of hundreds of Mexican-American families, and his love and compassion for the community kept him coming back. His 1948–49 photographs of Chavez Ravine became an in-depth document of a soon-to-be-lost world—a painful chapter in LA’s history culminating in the construction of Dodger Stadium in the 1950s. The work was largely unknown until 2003 when Chronicle Books published Chavez Ravine: 1949, along with former residents’ memories collected by the photographer.

Normark, who lived in Seattle, passed away on June 5 at age 86 following a battle with lung cancer, leaving a legacy of elegiac and iconic images that capture the transitory character of Los Angeles with uncommon sensitivity and resonance. His contributions have elicited an outpouring of recognition for his singular contribution to LA’s photographic history, including this moving obituary in the Los Angeles Times.

(more…)

Designmatters and Aspen Institute examine the social, creative and economic impact of the new culture of ‘intrapreneurs’

Thursday, June 12th, 2014
Mariana Amatullo speaking at Desigmnatters' Leap Symposium on the New Professional Frontier in Design For Social Innovation." Photo by Alex Aristei

Designmatters’ Mariana Amatullo opening the Leap Symposium: The New Professional Frontier in Design for Social Innovation. Photo ©2013 Alex Aristei for LEAP

This week the Aspen Institute launched a new series of essays on the growing importance of social intrapreneurs — change-agents within organizations large and small who are fusing business success with positive social and environmental impacts — and the value they are adding to their organizations and society. To kick off the series, the Institute, in collaboration with The Huffington Post, published the following piece by Mariana Amatullo, co-founder and vice president of Designmatters at Art Center College of Design.

Safir BellaliThe Institute also named 2001 Art Center alumnus Safir Bellali, Design Innovation director for Vans, to its incoming class of 2014 First Movers Fellows. Each fellow will tackle a project that will have a positive financial, social and environmental impact on both their company and society. Bellali, who maintains close ties with the College though his participation in critiques and hiring student interns, will explore how new manufacturing technologies will allow Vans to work toward bringing production back to the United States. In Fall 2014, Vans will sponsor a Designmatters/Product Design studio at Art Center.

(more…)

“Hiroshi Sugimoto: Past Tense,” four decades of alum’s work at the Getty Museum through June 8

Thursday, May 1st, 2014
Polar Bear, 1976, Hiroshi Sugimoto, gelatin silver print. The J. Paul Getty Museum, purchased with funds provided by the Photographs Council. © Hiroshi Sugimoto

Polar Bear, 1976, Hiroshi Sugimoto, gelatin silver print. The J. Paul Getty Museum, purchased with funds provided by the Photographs Council.
© Hiroshi Sugimoto

Long interested in the “re” part of representation, Hiroshi Sugimoto has, since the 1970s, used photography to investigate how history pervades the present. His first photographs, made while still in high school, captured film footage of Audrey Hepburn as it played in a movie theater.

Now the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles brings together three separate bodies of work by the 1972 Art Center Photography alumnus — four decades’ worth of meticulously crafted prints that inventively reframe objects from the collections of a variety of museums. The exhibition Hiroshi Sugimoto: Past Tense, continuing through June 8, features “Dioramas” (1975–1994), “Portraits” (1999) and his newest series, “Photogenic Drawings” (2008–present).

(more…)

Creative disruption: Image strategists on photography’s new frontier

Friday, April 4th, 2014
CicLAvia

Photographs by Annenberg Apprentice Dave Koga are part of Our Story, a digital visual narrative he curated in collaboration with CicLAvia.

“The advent of new technologies and a global population consumed by social media have turned photography on its head,” says Dennis Keeley, chair of Art Center’s Photography and Imaging Department. “The profession now demands a daunting versatility for survival—including skills in entrepreneurship, computational competency and critical thinking. Image-making now extends well beyond the traditionally constructed photograph to more immediate and interconnected processes. These contemporary practices and ideas utilize art, science and communications, and demand an intellectual flexibility, collaborative spirit, and a willingness to engage the world with strategy.”

To prepare photography students to meet the demands of this rapidly changing profession, Keeley and his colleagues developed a pilot class this Spring, Creative Disruption: Beyond the Classroom. Co-led by Everard Williams, Ann Cutting and Elisa Callow, the class embeds students in local nonprofits where they’re given a creative challenge and work in collaboration with the partner organization to tackle that challenge.

The class is part of an Art Center study, funded by a grant from the Annenberg Foundation, investigating and testing models for the future of photographic education.

Read on to learn about our first two Annenberg Apprentices, and their innovative work with two community-based organizations, CicLAvia and the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center.

(more…)