Environmental Design alum Kimberly Marte has worked on quiet a few impressive cars since graduating from ArtCenter. As the Senior Lead Designer for Color and Materials at Tesla Motors she worked as a member of the team that researched and designed the feel and color the iconic Model S. It is a car, and a company, known for its attention to detail. She contributes to the color options, both interior and exterior, anything you touch, such as the plastics, metals, resins, fibers, fabrics, leathers and grains. Her insight into consumers preferences comes from staying ahead of trends and researching what is happening in multiple disciplines from fashion, to interior design. She talked with us about the unique working environment at Tesla and the difficulties and rewards of being a female in the automotive business.
Hailing Uber cabs, grabbing a cup of the Bay Area’s finest coffee, snapping photos of Fisherman’s Wharf and meeting with some of the biggest design consultancies on the West Coast—it’s all in a day’s work for the the members of Art Center Business Club.
This past May, 14 members of the Art Center Business Club (ACBC) packed up for a week of exciting studio tours in San Francisco– ten in all. The agenda included meetings with such consultancies as IDEO, frog design, inc., and NewDealDesign, as well as print and media companies like Chronicle Books and WIRED.
In a time of unprecedented competition for art and design jobs, students actively seek out studios and companies they can join to jumpstart their careers. Students participate in internships offering a deeper understanding of a particular company’s creative ethos and workflow without the commitment of a full-time job. However, internships are seasonal and require a significant time commitment in order to determine whether that particular organization is a good fit. This is where studio visits come in. They deliver valuable insights into working culture, company culture, company structures—all the things you don’t learn as a student searching a firm’s website. With this knowledge, applicants emerge more informed and prepared to face the professional world.
The day Max Knecht pulled a squid, a walrus, a deer and a bunny out of a bright green vintage suitcase is the day he landed his first big deal as a designer.
“It was a formal meeting in [Knock Knock company founder and CEO] Jen Bilik’s office,” recalls Knecht PROD 11, who was still a student at the time. “But bringing all those animal body parts in a suitcase broke the seriousness.”
These were no ordinary plush toys. An imaginative take on swapping identities, Knecht’s bright-colored animals had a clever postmodern flair. Each one separated into three segments, and he demonstrated for Bilik how these “lumps” could be zipped together in any combination. She loved the crisscross-creature concept and offered Knecht a buyout on the spot. Today six different Clump-O-Lumps are available on Knock Knock’s website.
It’s tempting to call moments like this magic, the proverbial rabbit pulled out of a hat. Or a lucky break, all about who you know.
But it was none of these.
Karen Hofmann, recently appointed Department Chair of Product Design, sat down with us to discuss the future of the department.
As an alumna and educator, Hofmann has developed innovative curriculum—such as DesignStorms, immersive collaborations of students, faculty and professionals from sponsoring companies—and defined new strategies benefiting the entire College. She has served as director of the Color, Materials and Trends Exploration Laboratory (CMTEL) at Hillside Campus since 2006, and has been on the Art Center faculty since 2001. She was recently named one of the Most Admired Educators of 2010 by DesignIntelligence, published by the Design Futures Council.
Prior to joining Art Center’s faculty, Hofmann held leadership positions at o2studio and Johnson Controls. She graduated from Art Center in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in product design and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from California State University, Northridge. She served as Acting Chair of the department from 2008 to 2009.
Dotted Line: What do you bring to the Product Design Department as Chair?
Karen Hofmann: I am deeply committed to upholding the great legacy and strengths of the department. I feel a great sense of responsibility to prepare young designers as creative citizens of the 21st century, and will evolve the program to best prepare our students for meaningful careers that positively impact the world.
DL: What does the future hold for product design in general?
KH: It has gone beyond just producing objects. Today product design is about applying the design process to any number of problems in the world, from social impact challenges to redesigning organizations. The term “design thinking” is very in vogue right now—product designers have led these collaborative and iterative processes for years. Product designers are responsible for bringing non-designers along in the creative process as they identify and solve problems.
What is your favorite color? If you’re a CEO, your answer will probably be different than most. Results from a 60-second online test are being used to steer people toward a career that matches their personality and strengths.
USA Today reports: “[Psychiatry professor Rense] Lange says no one knows why so much can be learned about a person by the colors they choose. Those answers are buried deep in neuroscience, he says, but it’s just a matter of time before marketers will be able to target products to consumers based on color preferences.”