Is Art Center the creative equivalent to bootcamp?

by November 7th, 2014

Graphic Design alumnus Michael Noh's (BFA 14) SYNC project. Photo: Alex Aristei

Graphic Design alumnus Michael Noh’s (BFA 14) SYNC project. Photo: Alex Aristei

Studying at Art Center is like going through boot camp. You’ve probably heard students and alumni from the College compare those two experiences. But how realistic is that analogy?

Graphic Design alumnus Michael Noh (BFA 14), who graduated this past summer, has an answer. Prior to studying at Art Center, Noh served in the Army Reserves for four years, during which time he designed multimedia communications and also served on a tour in Iraq as part of a Psychological Operation (PsyOp) unit.

Which means, yes, he went through boot camp. So I put the question directly to this military veteran and working designer: Is graduating from Art Center really akin to surviving basic training?

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Art Center’s military veterans, supported by scholarship, transition to new careers

by November 6th, 2014

Can’t Sleep, watercolor on paper, by Joshua Moreno: "This series is a journalistic approach to PTSD in soldiers. These are a few of my brothers who allowed me to illustrate their deepest nightmares."

Can’t Sleep, watercolor on paper, by Joshua Moreno: “This series is a journalistic approach to PTSD in soldiers. These are a few of my brothers who allowed me to illustrate their deepest nightmares.”

Military veterans who come to Art Center to begin new careers in art and design are, by nearly every account, among the College’s most dedicated, disciplined and tenacious students. In honor of Veterans Day, we reached out to three recent recipients of the Ahmanson Veterans Scholarship Initiative, a program which aims to help students restart their education at private colleges and universities in California and assimilate back to their civilian lives. We asked each of them to describe the transition from the military to Art Center and to offer advice to other veterans thinking of doing the same.

Here’s what they had to say.

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Die-cut with a vengeance: Student repurposing project captured in new video

by November 5th, 2014

The boxes and boxes of leftover die-cut letters that returned from the printer along with the 2015-2016 Viewbook, sparked an idea in Product Design faculty member, Frido Beisert. While others may have seen those letters as useless refuse bound for the recycling bin, Frido saw an opportunity to push the creative bounds of his students. As the saying goes, one person’s trash is another’s design challenge.

Frido asked his students one simple question when he presented them with these letters: How can you transform something useless into something useful?

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From street to screen to zine: Car Classic 2014 through the lenses of two photo students

by November 4th, 2014

Car Classic reliably serves up a  feast for the photographic eye, with its high-contrast placement of man-made wonders amid the natural marvels surrounding Art Center’s Hillside campus. But the 2014 edition of the College’s annual homage to car design delivered more spectacularly photogenic feats of design and engineering than usual, thanks to this year’s theme, Street to Screen, featuring a swarm of Batmobiles amid a caravan of camera-friendly automotive stars of film and TV.

To give these sirens of street and screen their artful due, we dispatched two upper term Photography students, Kit Sinclair and Eduardo Medrano, to capture the look and feel of this year’s event with a visual conversation in the language of still images. Their marching orders were simply to convey the visceral thrill of Art Center’s carefully curated collection of iconic rides.

Kit and Eduardo delivered on their promise and then some, with the above series of images, a digital zine, for which Sinclair supplied the following inquisitive artist’s statement, clearly aimed at engaging the viewer: “This series was influenced by timeless design and created to inspire you, no matter your background. What makes a design classic? What elements in a design make it appealing no matter when you see it? How does time influence and inform current design?”

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From Teen Midol to Macklemore: Storytelling by Graduate Film students takes many forms

by November 3rd, 2014

Still from Matthew Ward's Damned.

Still from Matthew Ward’s Damned, the story of a woman who escapes a research facility and discovers the city around her devastated by a virus.

Art Center’s graduate Film program offers developing filmmakers an immersive opportunity to refine and expand their visual storytelling abilities. For the new 2015-16 Graduate Studies Viewbook, we profiled three members of that community: Lizbeth Chappell, Mego Lin and Matthew Ward. Here are their stories.

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An insider’s view of Art Center’s creative process with our latest round of Student/Space videos

by October 29th, 2014

 

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 4.10.04 PMArt Center has a reputation for putting students through their paces, challenging them to meet and exceed their wildest creative dreams. The work ethic instilled here is legendary as are the results of all that toiling, ideating, imagining and making.

But the journey from inspiration to finished creation has always been somewhat mysterious. So beginning last Fall, we set out to illuminate students’ creative process with the series of videos we’ve recently renamed Student Space. Now it’s become a bonafide ‘thing.’ Here’s how it’s done: We identify three students from different disciplines who are in the process of completing an ambitious project. Over the course of the term we work with them to create three videos capturing the launch, obstacles and completion of their finished work of art and/or design. At the end of the term, each student’s trio of episodes constitutes an intimate take on the agony and ecstasy of bringing an idea to life. The results have been fascinating, dramatic and nothing short of spectacular. Need proof? Check out this playlist on our YouTube page.

We’re particularly excited to introduce you to the newest group of Student Space participants with this latest round of videos. Pearlyn Lii is a Graphic Design student working on a Brian Eno book. Environmental Design student, Connie Bakshi is sending dispatches from Tokyo, where she’s participating in a collaboration with TAMA University. And Advertising student Rosie Geozalian is tackling a little subject known as human connection in her current campaign.

Join us in watching these works unfold over the remaining weeks of the term. Check this space for subsequent installments on November 22 and December 19.

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How we work, live and shop: Environmental Design grad students redefining the future

by October 28th, 2014

Drawing on a diverse array of fields, Art Center’s Environmental Design Master of Science program — led by Department Chair David Mocarski — investigates the dynamic qualities of story-driven design, combining conceptual rigor and theoretical thinking with professional practice and a focus on technical innovation, manufacturing, fabrication and project execution. Three recent graduates are redefining the future of the environments we inhabit on a daily basis, as their visionary thesis projects demonstrate.

"Soft Working" office furniture by Hines Fischer

Hines Fischer’s family room-inspired “Soft Working” office furniture system.

Hines Fischer: “Soft Working” office furniture system

For many years the office has been designed around accommodating the desktop computer. Office furniture’s job was to support the tools of the office and their use. But as technology has become more integrated, Hines Fischer (MS 14) believes that the most important thing for office furniture to support is people. The workspace should encourage and nurture people’s interactions, collaborations and ideas.

It’s a concept Fischer calls “Soft Working,” which is the name he gave to a line of furniture he designed as a grad student in Environmental Design’s Furniture and Fixtures track. His concept began with the observation that traditional office environments are formal, emotionally sterile, even forbidding. The meeting room is one place that the office community typically comes together, but — usually centered around a giant table — it too can feel alienating.

Because today’s businesses want their employees collaborating, innovating and working together — to be less of a staff and more of a family — Fischer saw that what the “family room” is to the home, the meeting room could be to the office: a comforting space that encourages interaction, community, mental clarity and openness.

Through its innovative use of form, color and texture, including wood and natural fabrics, Soft Working reinvents the modern office, improving human connection, workflow and productivity.

The Environmental Design program provides students high-level opportunities to engage directly with industry, including the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, North America’s premier annual showcase for contemporary design, where Fischer presented his work two years in a row.

 

"Vertical Farm" by William Shin

“Vertical Farm” urban living design concept by William Shin.

William Shin: “Vertical Farm” mixed-use high-rise

Master’s candidates in the Spatial Experience track look beyond the single object, moment or place to see how collectively these make an impact in projects ranging from branded retail and theme-driven dining, to hospitality, exhibition and residential design. Issues and methodologies of sustainable design are integrated throughout the curriculum.

While a graduate student, William Shin (MS 14) noticed a 21st-century trend toward cities coexisting in greater harmony with nature and the environment. As urban populations increase around the world, the pursuit of different lifestyles in those cities is also increasing. As environment-friendly lifestyles and locovore food culture take root in cities, green spaces and gardens are becoming increasingly important. Already many city dwellers and even commercial restaurants are growing their own vegetables and fruits.

Stepping into role of “conductor,” Shin orchestrated a set of spatial ideas around these emerging realities. His thesis project boldly re-envisions the urban neighborhood in the form of a “Vertical Farm” — a space that combines residential, agricultural, business, educational and leisure activities within a single structure. Centered around organic food production, spaces also foster research and learning, the coming together of families and neighbors, and the pursuit of healthy activities.

Online and offline platforms converge in Shuning Li's "Pinporium" design concept inspired by Pinterest.

Online and offline platforms converge in Shuning Li’s “Pinporium” design concept inspired by Pinterest.

Shuning Li: “Pinporium” retail platform

What’s next? is the driving question behind much of the exploratory and experimental work underway in our studios. Our graduate students see themselves as proactive opportunity seekers in the creative process, ideating and collaborating across disciplines, platforms and cultures.

Inspired by Pinterest, the popular online visual discovery tool used to collect and share ideas, Shuning Li (MS 14) designed “Pinporium” as a dynamic retail platform. More than simply a store, the project proposes an entirely new business model for the retail industry in the digital age. Supported by advanced technology, virtual community, and a focus on interactivity and flexibility, the Pinterest-branded emporium-style retail spaces envisioned by Li in her thesis project would engage and inspire users with a customized shopping experience based on their Pinterest user data and preferences.

In Li’s concept, “pinning” becomes a more powerful act than merely bookmarking and sharing images. Online and offline platforms converge to create dynamic, adaptive spaces that promise more interactivity between shoppers and sellers and significant potential to bring new life to physical stores, with lasting social and economic impact.

To learn more about Art Center’s graduate and undergraduate programs, check out the new 2015–2016 Viewbook.

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In Memoriam: Art Center faculty member Leah Hoffmitz Milken

by October 27th, 2014

Leah Hoffmitz Milken | Copyright Steven A. Heller / Art Center College of Design.

Leah Hoffmitz Milken | Copyright Steven A. Heller / Art Center College of Design.

It is with much sadness that I write to inform you of the passing of Professor Leah Hoffmitz Milken. She died on Saturday morning after an extended illness.

A renowned letterform expert, Leah taught at Art Center for more than 20 years and was a beloved member of our community. Throughout her career, she specialized in the creation of unique logotypes and typefaces for multiple industries and media. Corporate brands benefiting from her first-rate typographic eye include FedEx, Nokia, United Airlines and Disney, among many others.

As a faculty member, Leah helped shape and influence scores of graduates, many of whom have become internationally recognized experts in graphic design and typography. In 2013, she received the Distinguished Achievement Award in Recognition of Excellence in Teaching, Professional Accomplishment and Institutional Service. The tribute hailed her extraordinary devotion to students and to the College that she loved.

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Artworld luminaries hail Stockholm debut of Sculpture After Sculpture, curated by Grad Art’s Jack Bankowsky

by October 24th, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-10-24 at 1.21.52 PM

By all accounts, Sculpture After Sculpture, an omnibus exhibition curated by Art Center faculty member, Jack Bankowsky,  is a major event, capturing nothing short of a pivotal moment in the evolution of modern sculpture. The show opened last week at Stockholm’s Moderna Museet to great fanfare, including this piece in Artforum. For those who can’t make it to Sweden, the following catalog excerpt offers a glimpse at the compelling story this audacious show tells about sculpture’s relatively recent past and possibly its not-so-distant future.

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Under the influence of Richard Pietruska: 40 years training the world’s top car designers

by October 23rd, 2014

Richard Pietrushka

Richard Pietruska

As we prepare to celebrate Richard Pietruska’s remarkable accomplishment of 40 years as an instructor at Art Center, we are receiving numerous notes and images from his former students expressing their appreciation for his impact on their lives and careers.  I just received a particularly heartfelt and personal email from our alumnus Chris Bangle.

As you may know, Chris is one of our most notable Transportation Design alumni who has had an amazing career (still in progress) – first, as a designer for Opel, then Fiat, then a long and distinguished career leading the BMW global design team.

I greatly value Chris’ authentic and kind words about Richard, which are undoubtedly echoed by many.­

– Stewart Reed, Chair of Transportation Design

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