Archive for the ‘Designmatters’ Category

Hope is in the bag: Saeri Dobson designs handcrafted purses in support of displaced Bangladeshi girls

Monday, July 21st, 2014
Saeri Dobson designed these wallets to support Bangladeshi girls and women rescued from brothels.

Saeri Dobson designed these wallets to support Bangladeshi girls and women rescued from brothels.

The following letter pays tribute to Art Center alum Saeri Dobson’s tireless and selfless work on behalf of Bangladeshi girls who have been rescued from brothels. Dobson (MFA 00 NEWM), whose ethically-minded creative practice is embedded right in her company name: By SaeRi: Design + Humanity.

image-1“I founded By SaeRi, Inc. to tell the stories of amazing human lives through my design,” says Dobson, who produces several lines of handmade bags and wallets ranging from bright and funky to chic and understated. She donates 10% of her profits to Speak Up for the Poor, a non-profit supporting displaced Bangladeshi girls and women. “Each By SaeRi bag is one of a kind, designed and made entirely in the USA. I handpick all the materials and oversee the production process.”

This letter, by the founder of Speak Up for the Poor, offers a snapshot of social impact design in action, exemplifying the vast potential for designers to change the world by bringing their social conscience to bear on their creative practice. We salute Saeri’s commitment to her cause, not to mention the elegant leather craftsmanship she brought to the entirely covetable Project Hope line of tote bags.

 

I am writing to express my organization’s support for the work of By SaeRi, Inc., a business which has generously supported our work for several years. Speak Up for the Poor, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, serves girls in poverty in Bangladesh. We remove girls from brothels and fund a home for rescued girls; we run a large education program keeping girls-at-risk in school and out of child marriage and other forms of abuse and exploitation; and we do legal casework and advocacy for girls in poverty who have been abused.

Speak Up relies on the generous support of individuals and businesses. By SaeRi, Inc. has been a faithful financial supporter of our work for several years, giving generously since 2011 to help fund several of our projects in Bangladesh.

Starting in 2011, By SaeRi became a funder of our work at the Alingon Home, a place for girls removed from brothels. In Bangladesh many young girls who are born to mothers working in brothels are themselves destined for forced prostitution as minors, and By SaeRi’s generosity helped fund our important work to remove and rehabilitate girls at the Alingon Home.

Similarly, By SaeRi’s generous financial support towards our Girls Education Program in 2012 and 2013 helped Speak Up build four Learning Centers in impoverished villages in southwestern Bangladesh, school rooms where hundreds of girls in our program receive academic support and mentoring to rise out of poverty and avoid the pitfalls of poverty. Several of Saeri Cho’s students have also contributed generously to our general fund, further catalyzing our efforts to serve girls in poverty in Bangladesh.

Speak Up is thankful to By SaeRi, and in particular, to the founder Ms. Saeri Cho Dobson for her hard work and generosity in supporting our work. We enthusiastically support their continued business expansion. We encourage you to extend every courtesy possible to enable By SaeRi to grow in its important mission as a socially responsible business.

Please contact me with any questions.

Sincerely, Troy Anderson

Founder and International Director, Speak Up

Graphics alum Rafael Esquer sees New York City as both canvas and muse

Monday, July 14th, 2014

When the New York City Department of Design and Construction approached Rafael Esquer’s Alfalfa Studio about creating a mural to improve the cafeteria of the LIFE Family Shelter in Lower Manhattan, Esquer embraced the opportunity to direct a project with social impact. Alfalfa invited the shelter’s clients to workshop their ideas and shape the conceptual and graphic direction of the piece. “The rewards of doing something that actually touches people’s lives is what makes the hundreds of hours of volunteer work worth it,” says Esquer, who has taught at Art Center, New York University and the School of Visual Arts.

Incorporating vibrant drawings of seasonal foods and children’s statements about their favorite activities and fantasy characters, the project has triggered new commissions for murals in the U.S. and abroad. But what is Esquer most excited about as his firm celebrates its 10th anniversary this year? “Having my own studio has allowed me to launch my own brand, Alfalfa New York,” he says. “It’s a project where I’m both client and designer.” Deeply in love with Manhattan, the Mexico native has created ICONYC, a graphic representation of the city researched and rendered over the course of more than two years, featuring 173 landmarks as diverse as the Chrysler Building and the Chelsea Hotel.

This story originally appeared in Art Center’s Spring 2014 Dot magazine, where you can read more about alumni and faculty achievements.

June 2014 alumni news and notes

Friday, July 11th, 2014
Photograph by Damon Casarez for the New York Times

Photograph by Damon Casarez for the New York Times

From The New York Times to Esquire, from Cannes to the Venice Biennale — Art Center alums have been busy making, making headlines and making their talents known within some of the world’s most prestigious events, platforms and publications. In addition to this primer on their accomplishments, we’re also inviting the Art Center alumni community to nominate candidates for this year’s Art Center Alumni Awards. Read on to learn more.

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The success of Safe Agua: Students design solutions to water scarcity in Colombia

Monday, July 7th, 2014

Alumnus Isaac Oaks offers a student’s perspective on the Safe Agua Colombia project, just published in the new Designmatters book, Safe Agua Colombia (June 2014). Continuing to build on the investigations and experiences of the award-winning Safe Agua Chile and Safe Agua Peru projects, Oaks traveled as part of a student team to Altos del Pino, in Bogotá, Colombia, to co-create innovative technical design solutions with local families, seeking to overcome some of the social issues created by water poverty and to make an impact through resulting products and systems. 

The Designmatters Safe Agua project fostered my personal exploration into the area of community design co-creation. The experience began with an immersive 12-day research trip to outskirts of Bogotá, Colombia, in fall 2013, where I was among a small team embedded with families in the asentamiento of Altos del Pino. Our focus was designing for the all too common problem of extremely limited water supply. Because they are only provisionally connected to the official water grid, each household has access to a small hose of running water for just one hour every eight days. This highly restrictive schedule became the catalyst for our designs.

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Art Center Product Design students land among top 2014 IDEA winners

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014
ELLE by Della Tosin

ELLE by Della Tosin

Earlier this week, the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) announced the winners of the 2014 International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) competition, which is regarded as one of the most preeminent design competitions in the nation.

IDSA revealed Art Center as one of the leading academic winners this year, continuing Art Center’s 20-plus-year winning streak. A panel of international design experts evaluated entries on aspects of industrial design excellence including innovation, benefits to the user and client, sustainability and the design’s visual appeal. Art Center students received four awards:

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Media Design Practices alum delivers TED talk on memes as the ‘street art of our social web’

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014
An Xiao Mina examines "The Meaning of Memes" on the 2013 TEDGlobal stage.

An Xiao Mina examines “The Meaning of Memes” on the 2013 TEDGlobal stage.

Think you know your memes? If you’ve spent any time online, you’ve probably run across the likes of Grumpy Cat, Scumbag Steve or, one of our personal favorites, Art Student Owl.

Those viral images and videos that people modify and spread across the Internet are always good for a laugh, but at the TEDGlobal 2013 conference in Edinburgh, Media Design Practices alumna An Xiao Mina took the stage to deliver a talk entitled “The Meaning of Memes,” shedding light on how individuals across the globe are turning memes into “the street art of our social web.”

In her talk, Mina provided examples of how people in both democracies and censorship states have used memes to speak out on controversial issues, from the detainment of Ai Weiwei to the shooting of Trayvon Martin. “These memes are about more than humor,” Mina said on the TED blog. “They do what art and visual expression have always done—make us feel less alone.”

This story originally appeared in Art Center’s Spring 2014 Dot magazine, where you can read more about alumni and faculty achievements.

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.

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New series of alumni video profiles launches with this profile of tech design visionary Yves Behar

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

Yves Behar has spent much of the past two decades inhabiting the rarefied air at the peak of design innovation. After graduating from Art Center College of Design in 1991 with a degree in Product Design, Behar became an early adopter in bringing a design ethos into the tech space, conceiving product identities for the likes of Apple and Hewlett-Packard. And in the years since founding his own forward-thinking industrial design and branding firm, Fuseproject, Behar has become something of an iconic brand in and of himself.

The above video represents the first in an ongoing series of video profiles of Art Center’s vanguard of mold-breaking, creatively audacious alumni. Behar welcomed Art Center’s video team into the hive of creative activity that is Fuseproject’s warehouse-like studio in San Francisco’s Mission District. The cavernous space was designed to promote collaboration and co-creation, with its long communal lunch table covered with bountiful fruit bowls full of healthy snacks, ripe for the picking. SodaStreams are stationed throughout the facility. And broad worktables are covered with mockup designs for top secret products that will most certainly one day make many lives easier, if not better. We hope you’ll come away as inspired as we were by Behar’s reflections on his own creative trajectory and the ways in which he’s continuing the Art Center tradition of learning to create and influencing change.

‘Stand With Us’: Students find kinship with Homeboy’s gang intervention program

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

This spring term I had the privilege of directing a short film as part of a Designmatters studio hosted by the Graphic Design Department, which was structured in partnership with Homeboy Industries, the country’s most successful gang intervention program.

Addressing Homeboy’s real and ongoing need for fundraising, we put together a video called Stand With Us. It brings together the insights of longtime donors to the organization with the stories of two former gang members, whose lives were transformed for the better at Homeboy.

Homeboy decided to screen Stand With Us on May 3 as an opener for the Lo Maximo Awards, the organization’s annual fundraiser. It was a fabulous night with food and drink, glamorous people (some of whom were tattooed) and lots of hugs, laughs and even some tears. It was a special moment for me as I got to see an eclectic and undoubtedly grateful crowd cherish my work—and the fruits of a successful collaboration between my school and one of LA’s finest institutions.

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Scholarship seeds a new generation of sustainability designers

Monday, May 12th, 2014
From Sam Julius' 'Sustainable Urban Housing' entry

From Sam Julius’ ‘Sustainable Urban Housing’ entry

Our homes, cell phones and laptop screens are filled with thoughtful and functional design. But what about art that creates social impact? Can design influence change on global issues like sustainable housing, access to clean water and empowering disadvantaged women?

Projects featuring practical solutions to these concerns designed by Product, Illustration and Environmental Design students were selected as the winners of the 2013-2014 Denhart Family Sustainability Scholarship competition. Created by a generous gift from Gun Denhart, and son, Christian Denhart (BS 10 Product), the prizes are annually awarded to students addressing environmental and social causes in their work. The scholarships are devised to increase awareness of art and design’s unique capacity to advance sustainability.

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