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

by 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.

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Art Center student mentors help invigorate local high school’s art club

by February 11th, 2015

Illustration student Ashley Pinnick shows off some appreciation by Blair High School's Art Club.

Illustration student Ashley Pinnick shows off some appreciation by Blair High School’s Art Club.

Illustration student Ashley Pinnick helped initiate the leadership exchange program between Art Center College of Design and Blair High School in the Pasadena Unified School District, along with students Cassie Zhang (Illustration), Tom Eichacker (Illustration), Martel McCornell (Film), D’Angelo McCornell (Graduate Film) and Vanessa Shababzadeh (Product), with guidance from Illustration faculty member Esther Pearl Watson. Below is her account of the experience.

Over the course of the Fall 2014 term, I had the privilege of being one of the students who forged a connection between Art Center and Blair High School as a student mentor.

Being a Designmatters Concentration student, it was a great opportunity for me to be thrust into a position where I could make a positive impact somewhere just down the street from Art Center’s South Campus.

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Alum Andre Kim conceives Starbucks Roastery and Tasting Room as an ampitheater of coffee

by February 10th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 1.59.02 PM

It’s only been a year and a half since Andre Kim (BFA 07 Env) signed on as a senior concept design manager at Starbucks. But the young environmental designer’s creative sensibility has already had a transformative impact on the java giant’s shifting identity. In a bid to compete with the surging success of high-end craft coffee boutiques (hence those ubiquity of long lines of Gen Y hipsters patiently awaiting their $6 pour overs), Starbucks set out to create the ultimate coffee fetishist’s fantasyland in the form of a new flagship retail experience in Seattle, designed by none other than Kim.

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

by 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.”

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January 2015 Art Center alumni notes

by February 6th, 2015

Spike TV's Framework, a furniture design reality show, features Product Design alum, Nolan Niu as a judge

Spike TV’s Framework, a furniture design reality show, features Product Design alum, Nolan Niu as a judge

From Oxygen’s Street Art Throwdown to Spike TV’s Framework to the 2015 Academy Awards to Toyota’s MIRAI—Art Center alumni were featured across the media landscape, doling out expertise on art and design-based reality shows and creating inventive animation and futuristic vehicles. See the full scope of this month’s alumni accomplishments below.

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Inherited land and soft hands: An MDP faculty’s field notes from Uganda

by February 5th, 2015

Mike’s brother in a brickyard, talking on his cell phone. Like many Ugandan villagers, he makes bricks for a living. Once piled into a tall structure, the bricks will be fired in place then sold. Photo by Elizabeth Chin

Mike’s brother in a brickyard, talking on his cell phone. Like many Ugandan villagers, he makes bricks for a living. Once piled into a tall structure, the bricks will be fired in place then sold. Photo by Elizabeth Chin

Media Design Practices faculty member, Elizabeth Chin, illuminates her experiences doing field work in Uganda in Anthropology Now, excerpted below.

In a small village in eastern Uganda, I sat on the porch of my host’s home. A retired head teacher, he has a rumbling, stentorian voice that commands authority. As we sipped tea, he looked over at me and asked: “Is it true that in your country it is legal for a man to go with a goat?”

After a moment, I sputtered, “Well, no!”

He considered my answer. “But it is legal for a man to go with a man?”

I told him “Yes.”

He continued, “And for a woman to go with a woman?”

“That too,” I said.

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Dispatches from the future of design thinking: MDP’s Faculty Work-in-Progress show

by February 4th, 2015

MDP Faculty Work-in-Progress Show. Video by Nick Meehan from MediaDesignPractices on Vimeo.

“Being part of a community that provides support and critique is important,” said Media Design Practices (MDP) Chair Anne Burdick as she kicked off the department’s first ever Faculty Work-in-Progress show on a recent Thursday evening in Art Center’s Wind Tunnel gallery space. “It’s really a super amazing gift.”

As the MFA program’s twelve faculty members’ presentations unfolded over the next two hours, it quickly became clear that Burdick was not overstating the rewards of her department’s commitment to open dialogue. The event, which Burdick hopes will become a regular piece of programming, was organized around the following theme: a piece of something bigger. Faculty responded to that imperative with a series short presentations of unfinished projects they’re cultivating in their private creative practices.

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Adoration and appreciation abound at memorial for letterform expert Leah Hoffmitz Milken

by February 2nd, 2015

Laughter, tears and, most of all, love was in abundance last Thursday evening, when more than 200 close friends and family gathered in Art Center’s Wind Tunnel Gallery to remember the extremely perceptive, bigger than life, impressively precise, brutally honest and encouragingly supportive Leah Toby Hoffmitz Milken, who passed away in October after battling a rare form of brain cancer.

President Lorne M. Buchman described Leah’s teaching as “the spine,” the core, the fundamental center for the design practice of her students. “Letterforms are a significant means through which human knowledge is conveyed and made precise, he explained. “Leah gave us the gift of knowing language, of seeing the visual word, in its most precise and exacting form. And from that came a release, a creativity of communication that can only enhance our experience as human beings.”

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Faculty member Jeff Higashi decodes the design innovations informing Superbowl XLIX

by January 30th, 2015

 

X2 Biosystems' XPatch provides data for early detection of head injuries.

X2 Biosystems’ XPatch provides data for early detection of head injuries.

Product Design faculty member Jeff Higashi spent over three years inside NFL players heads. As Vice President of Product Development assigned to develop a device that would capture data to assess potential concussions, Higashi gave a lot of thought to the mechanics of the sport as well as to how the players and teams might best be served by what players wear on the field and how.

With Sunday’s Superbowl showdown between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks swiftly approaching, we asked Jeff to explain how the X2 Biosystems’ XPatch device he helped develop might help protect players from the plague of concussions afflicting the sport. And we also seized the opportunity to ask this wearable tech designer to analyze some of the messages these two formidable teams are sending via their uniforms’ color, materials and design elements.

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Has alum Chris Do helped reinvent the music video with the interactive design for the Coldplay hit, “Ink?”

by January 28th, 2015

The spotlight of attention and adulation trained on the new interactive video for Coldplay’s latest hit, “Ink,” has been nothing short of, well…blinding. Appropriately enough, this ambitious and innovative multimedia project sprung from Blind, the transmedia design agency founded by Art Center alum Chris Do.

The evolution of the video is fascinatingly chronicled in the above making-of video as well as the following Fast Company blog post by Evie Nagy. Please feel free to share your thoughts on this video’s customized storytelling experience in the comments section below. Is this a novel fluke? Or have we just witnessed the future of all music videos? Discuss!

In November, pop-rock titans Coldplay released a gorgeous and engaging interactive video for “Ink,” a single from their chart-topping 2014 album Ghost Stories. The animated clip, developed by Los Angeles design agency Blind, is a choose-your-own-adventure-style story about a lost traveler given multiple opportunities to chase his elusive lover or go his own way. In all, there are more than 300 possible paths and stories a viewer can experience.

In the new behind-the-scenes video, members of Blind’s creative staff describe the two-month process of conceiving and creating the video, which uses a technology called Treehouse that was developed by New York company Interlude. Treehouse is the same technology that Bob Dylan used last year to create the interactive video for his 1965 classic “Like A Rolling Stone.” That video allowed users to click among 60 fake television shows of various genres, all dubbed with the song.

“The most challenging part of all of this was figuring out how to fully take advantage of the interactive medium,” says director Matthew Encina. “We had to create a story with inherently interesting choices to make, engaging viewers to wonder, ‘What would happen if I chose something else?’”

You can experience the “Ink” video here.

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