Archive for the ‘Product Design’ Category

Product Design’s Shirley Rodriguez gets arthritic children playing

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

“Recognizing the need is the primary condition for design.” - Charles Eames

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 9.34.31 AMA chronic illness diagnosis is hard for anyone and children especially. So when undergraduate Product Design student Shirley Rodriguez learned that children could suffer debilitating arthritis, she was determined to design a solution to help ease their suffering.

Following Eames’ dictum, she created an elegant product to motivate children to exercise their joints, and help push arthritis into remission. The result is Monstas. Shirley is currently seeking angel investors and studying abroad with Art Center’s INSEAD program to acquire the business skills necessary turn Monstas into a reality. The project was designed at Art Center and is currently in competition at the James Dyson Foundation.

In her own words:

Monstas are interactive exercise toys for children with Juvenile Arthritis, they help strengthen the joints.

(more…)

Remembering Norm Schureman: A video tribute to the larger-than-life legacy of an Art Center icon

Friday, March 20th, 2015

This week we are remembering and celebrating the life of Norman Schureman, our beloved teacher, mentor and friend.  It’s been 5 years since we had to say goodbye to one of the most passionate designers and significant instructors in our Art Center community.   The ripples of his influence are still felt as we continue to uphold his ideals in the Product Design department, as well as through the Norman Schureman Memorial Endowed Scholarship fund.  On the special week, let’s raise our glasses with pinkies out and remember our friend Norm.

Stuart Fingerhut reinvents the future of retail through experiential design

Friday, March 13th, 2015
Stuart Fingerhut designs Scion's presence at major international auto shows.

Stuart Fingerhut designs Scion’s presence at major international auto shows.

The following profile of Environmental Design alumnus Stuart Fingerhut appeared in the January 2015 issue of VSMD Magazine. Read how Fingerhut’s leading-edge thinking about reconceiving the retail experience to be more about connection than commerce informs the success of his experiential marketing work for Toyota’s Scion brand as well as his personal design practice creating functional art.

Stuart Fingerhut seems to have this experiential design thing all figured out. As creative director for Toyota’s Scion brand at the George P. Johnson Experience Marketing Agency in Los Angeles, Fingerhut is responsible for creating Scion’s presence at major international automobile shows.

(more…)

February 2015 Art Center alumni notes

Thursday, March 12th, 2015
Illustration by Kim Ryu for the February 2, 2015 edition of the New York Times Sunday Book Review

Illustration by Kim Ryu for the February 2, 2015 edition of the New York Times Sunday Book Review

It’s been a fruitful awards season—and not just for the creative team behind Birdman. Art Center alums have amassed an impressive array of accolades, from the Caldecott Medal (the Oscars of children’s literature) to the Oscars themselves. So in lieu of glitzy after party, we’ve done the next (or perhaps next, next) best thing and compiled highlights from our alumni community’s recent accomplishments below. Enjoy!

(more…)

Giving design the business: The ROI on Art Center’s longstanding partnership with INSEAD

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

What at first felt like a total culture clash just a decade ago is now standard practice in most top-earning companies. The idea of blending design innovation with business strategy has quickly evolved from a seedling, to a trend and now to a “must have.”

Art Center alumni and friends reunited in San Francisco on February 28 to celebrate the 10-year partnership of the College and INSEAD, one of the world’s leading and largest graduate business schools. Close to 150 industry leaders gathered at the posh play-inducing headquarters of Airbnb on Brannan Street to toast the success of a concept early adopters admitted seemed wacky.

(more…)

Furniture designers square off on Spike TV’s “Framework,” featuring Product Design alum Nolen Niu

Thursday, March 5th, 2015
Common, Nolen Niu, Brandon Gore. Image courtesy Spike TV.

Framework judges Common, Nolen Niu, Brandon Gore. Image courtesy Spike TV.

When a casting agent called Product Design alumnus Nolen Niu (BS 99) asking if he would be interested in participating as a judge on a Spike TV show, he said “Hell yeah!” A fan of such shows as Bar Rescue and Catch a Contractor, Niu didn’t even ask what the show was about before agreeing to participate. That enthusiasm, and his well-earned reputation as a furniture designer, landed him a stint as one of three judges on the furniture design reality competition, Framework, Spike TV’s newest reality show, where contestants vie to be named best furniture maker—and win a $100,000 prize. There is still time to binge watch the entire series online before the finale, which will air March 10th.

At first it was a bit surreal for Niu to see himself on TV and to get recognized at some of the most random places. Overall though, “[this] has been one of the best experiences I’ve had during my career as a designer, says Niu. “The opportunity to judge a competition and hold a position of authority related to design was an absolute honor.”

In tune with the current maker movement, Framework offers a glimpse into the process of creating handcrafted goods. “The design and build process is very analog in nature compared to the completely digital lifestyles that we live in today. It’s important that these shows continue to be produced since it shines light on the level of complexity of the work we as designers and makers perform,” notes Niu.

(more…)

The pursuit of perfect sound: Eleven key takeaways from Daniel Sennheiser’s BOLD lecture

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015
Sennheiser CEO's Daniel Sennheiser (left) and Dr. Andreas Sennheiser.

Sennheiser CEO’s Daniel Sennheiser (left) and Dr. Andreas Sennheiser.

Last month, Art Center welcomed Sennheiser co-CEO and Product Design alumnus Daniel Sennheiser (BS 96) to Hillside Campus to inaugurate its BOLD Lecture Series.

Speaking to a group of students and alumni packed into the Los Angeles Times Auditorium, Sennheiser shared lessons he’s learned as a creative entrepreneur and gave a behind-the-scenes look at how he’s implementing a culture of design thinking into his family’s venerable audio company—a company whose many achievements include revolutionizing personal audio by creating the world’s first on-ear headphones in 1968—which this year celebrates its 70th anniversary.

Below are highlights from his presentation:

On failure: It’s very important in your life to have moments where you fail. Failure is part of the journey. You learn it everyday in school when you go through moments where you feel like you’re failing. I still fail at a lot of things, but I get back up. And ultimately, success is standing up once more than you fall.

(more…)

Social entrepreneur Nathan Cooke’s Fresh Life Toilets offer a fresh start to locals in developing countries

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015
Nathan Cooke

Nathan Cooke

When Nathan Cooke (BS 08 Product Design) was first approached by a group of entrepreneurs to help start a new venture centered on building toilets in developing countries, he wasn’t terribly taken with the idea. But seeing their determination, he decided to help them build a test toilet.

Five years later, Cooke and his colleagues are still working together.  Cooke is co-founder and creative director of Sanergy, a social enterprise based in Nairobi, Kenya, with the mission of making hygienic sanitation affordable for everyone. Through Sanergy’s local brand, Fresh Life, the company franchises its Fresh Life Toilets to entrepreneurs in informal settlements. Franchisees, called Fresh Life Operators, make a profit by charging market rates for use of the toilets.

We checked in the Cooke during his most recent visit to campus for an update on lessons learned from launching this unique venture.

(more…)

Love designed to last: Alum couples share the secret sauce to relationship bliss

Thursday, February 12th, 2015
Alumni Wakako Takagi (BS 06) and Fridolin “Frido” Beisert (MS 08) say "If you can make it through Art Center together as a couple you are pretty much bonded for the rest of your life." Photo by Max Wanger.

Alumni Wakako Takagi (BS 06) and Fridolin “Frido” Beisert (MS 08) say “If you can make it through Art Center together as a couple you are pretty much bonded for the rest of your life.” Photo by Max Wanger.

Art Center’s reputation as a creative proving ground doesn’t exactly evoke images of artistic ardor, sunset strolls or even longing looks among the library stacks. But, as the saying goes: love is stronger than hate, war…or, in this case, work-weary creative determination. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that Art Center’s bridge has also served a figurative function, fostering deep and durable connections among more than a few alumni who have tied the knot. 

So, in honor of Valentine’s Day, we’re taking a closer look at the elements unique to couples who survived three years of Art Center’s intense maker bootcamp of high-standards and brutal crits and successfully applied the iterative process to love.

(more…)

Legendary industrial designer, alumnus Kenji Ekuan, passes away at age 85

Monday, February 9th, 2015
Product Design alumnus Kenji Ekuan (BS 57), second from right, arrives in the United States in the 1950s.

Product Design alumnus Kenji Ekuan (BS 57), second from right, arrives in the United States in the 1950s.

It is with great sadness that we report on the passing of Product Design alumnus Kenji Ekuan (BS 57). The legendary industrial designer died on February 8, at the age of 85.

A former Buddhist monk and the founder of GK Design Group, Ekuan designed everything from the Akita Shinkansen high-speed train, Yahama VMAX motorcylces and the iconic Kikkoman soy sauce dispenser, the latter which resides in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection.

As NPR reported this morning, Ekuan’s decision to become a designer had roots in the bombing of Hiroshima in 1946, an attack which killed his sister and his father. ”Faced with brutal nothingness, I felt a great nostalgia for something to touch, something to look at,” he told Japanese broadcaster NHK. “The existence of tangible things is important. It’s evidence that we’re here as human beings.”

(more…)