Archive for the ‘Sustainability Initiatives’ 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

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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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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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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Art Center’s first Myspace occupation concludes. Prepare for phase 2!

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

We came. We saw. We influenced change as we learned to create.

Beginning last October, we enlisted four Art Center students to lead the charge in a week-long homepage takeover of the recently relaunched Myspace. The first-wave social network had reinvented itself as a community and breeding ground for artists and creative types of all stripes to exchange work, feedback and inspiration in the digital sphere. In other words, Myspace had become a sandbox custom-built for Art Center students and alums. And, as is our way, we came ready to play.

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Fall 2013 Grad Show: A master class in next-level design thinking and doing

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Top companies leading the innovation economy swarmed the Hillside campus scouting new talent during Fall 2013 Grad Show. Facebook, BMW, Snapchat and Square, creator of the revolutionary cube device that instantly transforms cell phones in to credit card machines, were all seeking the next wave of their creative workforce.

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Say Goodbye to the Old Paradigm. Here Comes the Next Generation of Design-Driven Startups

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

Accelerator

Art Center  and Caltech today announced the launch of The Design Accelerator, an incubator aimed at helping startups grow by merging great design, cutting-edge technology and business strategy to create innovation. The Accelerator initially will be housed within Idealab, which is well known for creating and operating pioneering companies in its own right.

“In today’s economy, artists and designers play a vital role as creative leaders and catalysts for innovation and change,” said Art Center President Lorne M. Buchman. “Integrating technology, design and business, The Design Accelerator creates an opportunity for Art Center and Caltech alumni to expand on what they learned as students and provides a stimulating space for their concepts to become viable businesses.”

The Accelerator is an integral part of Art Center’s 2011–2016 Strategic Plan. Understanding students’ concerns about employment prospects following graduation, The Accelerator fills a critical gap by giving students and alumni the opportunity to develop their concepts into sustainable and commercial ventures—a bridge between academic and professional life.

Fred Farina, Caltech’s chief innovation officer, adds, “We know that making connections across different areas fuels innovation, and that’s why we’re excited about this collaboration. The combination of our complementary but very different perspectives in a startup team promises powerful results.”

The Design Accelerator benefits from its prime location in Pasadena, Calif., which has become a hotbed of innovation and entrepreneurship with vibrant creative, technology and business communities, enriched by the presence of Art Center, Caltech, angel investors and venture capitalists.

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Designmatters co-founder, Mariana Amatullo, adds a voice for socially conscious design to the Executive Board of Cumulus

Monday, June 24th, 2013
Mariana Amatullo

Designmatters’ Mariana Amatullo

The intersection of art, design and social impact lies at the future-facing frontier of the design world. This rapidly evolving multidisciplinary field continues to grow in size and stature thanks in no small part to the groundbreaking work of Mariana Amatullo, Vice President of Designmatters at Art Center. Amatullo recently expanded her reach as a leader in the field after being appointed to the Executive Board of Cumulus, the International Association of Universities and Colleges of Art, Design and Media.

“As the official Art Center liaison to Cumulus for the last six years,” said Amatullo of her motivation to serve on the Executive Board, “I’ve been able to observe firsthand how effective the organization has been in creating dynamic collaborations among an expanding global network and community of educators and researchers, but also through cooperation with leading industry and key educational and professional networks such as for example, NASAD and AIGA in the US.”

Cumulus, the only global association to serve art and design education universities, has long supported and encouraged the movement to use design principles to advance positive social change. First on the organization’s list of ambitious goals is to support academic institutions of art, design and media in enhancing their contribution to society. Cumulus also works to foster dialogue and collaboration through its academic forum: biannual conferences hosted by member organizations provide a dynamic platform for international exchange, workshops and academic publishing.

Founded in 2000 with its Secretariat headquartered in Helsinki, Finland, at Aalto University School of Art, Design and Architecture, Cumulus has 198 member institutions in 48 countries. Art Center, which joined Cumulus in 2006, is one of only a dozen U.S. schools granted full membership.

As a member of the Executive Board, Amatullo will help develop policies, plan activities and manage the Association’s business affairs, in addition to implementing decisions made by Cumulus’ General Assembly.

“I am deeply honored to join the Cumulus board and a very dynamic group of international colleagues who share a profound dedication to cross-cultural discourse, innovation and research,” she said.   “Through my service, I will be seeking actionable pathways to advocate for the relevance of art and design education globally.  I am energized since I believe we are at an exciting crossroads in time for our field: we have the opportunity—and responsibility–to position the expertise of our universities as a potent source for new inquiry and agency in our contemporary world.”

Art Center Students Compete in WantedDesign’s International Water Challenge

Friday, May 17th, 2013

Can designers help solve the planet’s water crisis in just three days? That’s the question WantedDesign Challenge: Water Cycle aims to answer May 17–20 during New York Design Week.

WantedDesign

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Dieter Rams Urges Graduates Toward a Responsible Design Ethos

Monday, April 22nd, 2013
Dieter Rams at Art Center

Dieter Rams receives an honorary doctorate of arts from Art Center President Lorne M. Buchman. He concluded his speech by invoking Gandhi’s admonition, “We must be the change we want to see in the world.”

“Tomorrow’s world will be designed by the design students of today — by you — and while this is a great opportunity, this is also a great challenge and a great responsibility,” Dieter Rams told graduating Art Center students during the 2013 Spring Graduation Ceremony on Sat., April 20.

Accepting an honorary doctorate of arts from Art Center, the legendary designer was introduced by Product Design Chair Karen Hofmann and delivered his speech in German, translated live by an English-language interpreter. Rams thoughtfully reflected on his past, sharing lessons gleaned over a long and influential career as a product designer and university professor, while voicing concerns about the future and stressing designers’ changing responsibility in a changing world.

“Today’s main challenges are the protection of the natural environment and overcoming mindless consumption,” he said, urging students toward “a design ethos that goes way beyond complacency and arbitrariness.”

He presented five essential dimensions of design, along with his “formula for sustainable production”: Less but better! Much, much less, and much, much better. He asserted that “Design is primarily an intellectual process. It’s a procedure and an approach to create innovation and new meaning.”

Following are highlights of Rams’ speech:

 

 

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