Archive for the ‘Alumni Relations’ Category

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.

Under the influence of Richard Pietruska: 40 years training the world’s top car designers

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014
Richard Pietrushka

Richard Pietruska

As we prepare to celebrate Richard Pietruska’s remarkable accomplishment of 40 years as an instructor at Art Center, we are receiving numerous notes and images from his former students expressing their appreciation for his impact on their lives and careers.  I just received a particularly heartfelt and personal email from our alumnus Chris Bangle.

As you may know, Chris is one of our most notable Transportation Design alumni who has had an amazing career (still in progress) – first, as a designer for Opel, then Fiat, then a long and distinguished career leading the BMW global design team.

I greatly value Chris’ authentic and kind words about Richard, which are undoubtedly echoed by many.­

– Stewart Reed, Chair of Transportation Design

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Holy grand slam, Batman! Batmobiles times four on display at Car Classic

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014
1966 Batman TV Series Batmobile designed by George Barris

1966 Batman TV Series Batmobile designed by George Barris

Four authentic, full-scale Batmobiles will roll onto the field at Art Center’s Street to Screen: Car Classic 2014 event this Sunday. Exploring the impact transportation and entertainment design has had on Hollywood and the entertainment industry—on camera, on the road and behind the scenes—this year’s Bat-tastic concours confab will host a critical mass of the caped crusader’s legendary vehicles.

Art Center’s ties to the Dark Knight extend well beyond transportation. Entertainment Design Chair Tim Flattery designed the Batmobile Val Kilmer used in the 1994 film Batman Forever. Alumnus Harald Belker (BS Transportation Design 90) created the 1997 Batmobile George Clooney drove in Batman and Robin and Illustration Chair Ann Field worked on character design for Uma Thurman’s Poison Ivy in that same movie. Alumnus Zack Snyder (BFA Film 89) has added the great detective to his latest Superman epic, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, scheduled to be released in 2016. And who owns Batman/DC Comics? None other than Warner Bros., led by Trustee Greg Silverman, who reigns as its President, Creative Development and Worldwide Production.

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Alum Loris Lora’s debut book offers contemporary twist on California Modernism

Monday, October 20th, 2014

This month, hip British publisher, Nobrow, releases Eventually Everything Connects, a book by recent Art Center Illustration alumna Loris Lora exploring the artist’s insight into the Californian modernist movement.  If this book, which makes its U.S. debut in March, is anything like previous Nobrow works, it’ll be a far cry from your typical tome, more closely resembling an objet d’art.

The project began during the Illustration department’s recent Ancient/Modern study abroad class in London, taught by Paul Rogers, Clive Piercy and Ann Field, department chair. Students were assigned to create a piece related to California Modernism and then present their ideas to representatives from London’s professional community.

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Seeing stars with Dan Goods: NASA’s resident wizard of wonderment and REALSPACE exhibitioning artist

Thursday, October 16th, 2014
Dan Goods and David Delgado Refraction, 2014 on view in REALSPACE. Courtesy of the artists.

Dan Goods and David Delgado, Refraction, 2014; on view in the Williamson Gallery’s REALSPACE show. Courtesy of the artists.

What are you doing with your special moment in time today? This pointed challenge culminates an inspiring TEDx Talk by Graphic Design alumnus Dan Goods, who works as a visual strategist (aka resident artist) at NASA’S Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena. Here’s how Goods answers his own question: “I’m creating experiences for people that give them a moment of awe and wonder about the universe we live in.”

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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…)

Change/Makers video: Crossing borders and disciplines with Graphic Design and MDP alum Rebeca Méndez

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

Rebeca Méndez holds Art Center degrees in two different disciplines, Graphic Design (BFA, ’84) and Media Design (MFA, ’97). Her life and work stand as a testament to defying the conventions of those fields by expanding the definition of what it means to be a working artist and designer. She has forged her own path through punishingly uncharted terrain that’s taken her to the arctic tundras of the earth’s poles, as well as many untamed territories.

For these reasons among many others, Méndez was chosen to be the subject of the latest installment in the Change/Makers series of video profiles, which explores the ideas and passions informing the creative practices of some of Art Center’s most innovative and inspiring alumni.

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Rhapsody in goop: Graduate Art alumnus Michael Zahn’s Madita pays tribute to his muse

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014
Video projection still from Graduate Art alumnus Michael Zahn's (MFA 14) thesis show Madita.

Video projection still from Graduate Art alumnus Michael Zahn’s (MFA 14) thesis show Madita.

Every artist has a muse: F. Scott Fitzgerald had Zelda; Coco Chanel had Etienne Balsan; and John Waters had…Divine.

For a more contemporary example, look no further than the cover of Art Center’s recently published Graduate Studies Viewbook. It’s there, underneath the diecut lettering, where you’ll find an image of a bright green alginate cast of a human hand.

That hand belongs to, and was one element of, Graduate Art alumnus Michael Zahn’s (MFA 14) thesis show Madita, which was inspired by someone he met as a foreign exchange student at Kunsthochschule Weissensee in Berlin.

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As seen in Star Wars Rebels, the Force is still strong with alumnus Ralph McQuarrie

Monday, October 6th, 2014
Star Wars Rebels crew from  L to R: Sabine, Chopper, Kanan, Ezra, Zeb, Hera

The Star Wars Rebels crew from L to R: Sabine, Chopper, Kanan, Ezra, Zeb and Hera (Disney XD)

As the concept artist for the original Star Wars trilogy, Illustration alumnus Ralph McQuarrie (BFA 56) was instrumental in the creation of those films’ fantastical characters and settings. In fact, the late McQuarrie’s pre-production paintings he created in 1975—including depictions of the villainous Darth Vader, the Millennium Falcon starship and the Death Star space station—were instrumental in convincing 20th Century Fox to fund the first film.

“He was one of the main godfathers of concept design,” says Tim Flattery, chair of Art Center’s Entertainment Design Department of McQuarrie. “His groundbreaking work on Star Wars catapulted visual storytelling to a new level and will continue to inspire concept artists for generations to come.” (more…)

Art Center alumni notes: August and September 2014

Friday, October 3rd, 2014
Doug Aitken: Still Life Regen Projects, Los Angeles

Doug Aitken: Still Life
Regen Projects, Los Angeles

Art Center’s enterprising diaspora has been making a creative impact far and wide during August and September. Here’s a primer of the past two months’ worth of alumni accolades and accomplishments.

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