Posts Tagged ‘Art Center College of Design’

Alumni video: Strategic brand storyteller Michael Etter sources his inspiration for the ‘beerification’ of wine

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

Pizza delivery, filmmaking and teaching are not typical bullet points on a designer’s resume. But Michael Etter (BFA 03 Graphic Design) took a roundabout route to his chosen field at Art Center, which he ultimately came to see as the most effective means to exercise his passion for storytelling. The thread connecting all his diverse interests has always been a narrative one, which continues to inform his work today as a strategic brand storyteller.

What does that mean exactly? As you’ll see in the above video and the Q&A below, Etter works to define brands as if they were characters in a story he’s writing. He then shapes a campaign around the specific attributes of the company. It’s a process that has yielded supremely successful results. Case in point: His recent campaign for Union Wine Company, which was designed to take the pretension out of wine drinking and make it more casual and accessible to non-oenophiles. The resulting campaign combined design innovation—selling wine in cans. But it was Etter’s bold narrative about the “beerification of wine” that distilled the essence of the idea into a media-friendly easily digestible package, generating a smash hit for Union, which quickly sold out of its first run of cans and is now expanding its reach far beyond its roots in Oregon.


How Design touts TestLab Berlin’s life-changing impact on its participants and design itself

Thursday, May 14th, 2015


A new environment can stimulate inventive thinking that leads to brilliant design work—but according to the TestLab Berlin participants, it might just stir you to change your way of life, too.

TestLab Berlin is a study abroad program offered by Art Center College of Design that is structured as a series of immersive 14-week trans-disciplinary projects under the direction of Nik Hafermaas, graphic design department chair and executive director of Berlin Programs. Students from a range of studio majors offered by the college—including illustration, photography, environmental, interaction, product and graphic design—can apply to participate. Twelve students are selected to travel from Pasadena, CA to Berlin to work for a semester at Art Center’s pop-up design studio in the recently renovated Bikini Berlin, an historic 1950s urban marketplace and recreation center located across from the city’s famed Zoological Garden.

Each TestLab is unique and forms around one core faculty member who runs the project along with additional guest faculty, lecturers and critics, both in Berlin and back in Los Angeles. Real-life design challenges are tackled in a studio setting, and past TestLab programs have focused on design innovation for retail and hospitality design.

Recently, Sean Adams, professor of graphic design and partner at the design firm AdamsMorioka, tackled branding with “TestLab Neo Americana.” Guest faculty and advisors included the following: Brad Bartlett, Candice-Leigh Baumgardner, Nik Hafermaas, Nicole Jacek, Noreen Morioka, Michael Sans and Ming Tai. As Adams and the students worked to reimagine integrative narrative brand experiences that transcend traditional marketing and promotion tools, they found a new way to approach design and life.

The above excerpt from Terry Stone’s story on the unexpected virtues and outcomes of students’ study abroad experiences with TestLab Berlin was originally published by How Design. Check out the full article here.

Leap Before You Look: Inside the revealing new exhibition on Black Mountain College, with MOCA curator Helen Molesworth

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015


Photo: Hazel Larsen Archer, Merce Cunningham Dancing, c. 1952-53, gelatin silver print, 8 ¾ x 5 7/8 inches. Estate of Hazel Larsen Archer and Black Mountain College Museum and Arts Center.

Photo: Hazel Larsen Archer, Merce Cunningham Dancing, c. 1952-53, gelatin silver print, 8 ¾ x 5 7/8 inches. Estate of Hazel Larsen Archer and Black Mountain College Museum and Arts Center.

“Most people in the room probably know a little something about Black Mountain College, and it’s probably part wrong and part true,” said Helen Molesworth. Relaxed in black sneakers and a loose sweater, the new chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, less than five months into her new job, offered a candid and engaging behind-the-scenes look at her work on a revealing new exhibition about Black Mountain College—the first comprehensive exhibition on the subject to take place in the United States.

The curator’s talk in February, a full year ahead of the exhibition’s opening in L.A., was part of both the Wind Tunnel Lecture Series and Art Center Dialogues. And as she disclosed to her unsuspecting audience at the outset, “You’re the first! I haven’t actually given a Black Mountain talk yet.”

For Molesworth, Black Mountain College’s mythic status—as the birthplace of the neo-avant-garde and the site of legendary collaborations by Robert Rauschenberg, John Cage and Merce Cunningham—has in fact been a problem to overcome, an impediment to a more complete understanding of its history. “It was a place charged in ways that engendered mythmaking from its inception,” she said, “and a lot of that mythmaking was self-generated.” (more…)

Environmental alum Viirj Kan deploys disruptive design thinking toward humanity at MIT Media Lab

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

“I think there’s a lot of space for designers to expand beyond the producer/client model and become knowledge makers, cultural disruptors and gatekeepers between pure economic gain and the well-being of humanity,” said alumna Viirj Kan (BS ’14 Environmental), currently a graduate student and researcher at MIT Media Lab.

Virij Kan at work

Virij Kan at work

Born in Macau, China and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, Kan’s work is inspired by the laws of nature, science, social climates and shifts in the social norm.

Kan and her fellow MIT researchers developed TRANSFORM as Adaptive and Dynamic Furniture, an exploration of how shape display technology can be integrated into our daily lives as interactive, shape changing furniture. The project was recently honored with the Golden Mouse award at a gathering of experts in Seoul examining innovation around how humans interact with digital technologies.


From Insulin tape to reusable sanitary pads: Meet the 2015 Denhart Family Sustainability Prizewinners

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

Denhart Sustainability Prize jurors (from L): Kristin Brown [Principal in charge of sustainability, Walt Disney Imagineering Research & Development], Christian Denhart [representing the Denhart family and Art Center Alumnus] and Heidrun Mumper-Drumm [Professor and Director Sustainability Initiatives, Art Center]

Denhart Sustainability Prize jurors (from L): Kristin Brown [Principal in charge of sustainability, Walt Disney Imagineering Research & Development], Christian Denhart [representing the Denhart family and Art Center Alumnus] and Heidrun Mumper-Drumm [Professor and Director Sustainability Initiatives, Art Center]

Art Center’s recent announcement of the Denhart Family Sustainability Prizewinners highlights the ways in which a design-thinking approach to social innovation has the potential to create measurable improvements to our health and well-being. The judges selected each of the following four projects based on the concept’s efficacy in addressing pressing environmental, social and/or economic sustainability issues, the potential benefits of the project and its impact as well as its ability to advance the teaching and practice of art and design. Please join us in congratulating the winners. We look forward to seeing these out-of-the-box ideas come to life.

1st Place / $15,000/ OATH: INSULIN TAPE SYSTEM / Martin Francisco

Product Design student Martin Francisco received the grand prize for ‘Oath,’ an innovative insulin delivery system that provides individuals with an accurate and painless method of dispensing insulin, while dramatically reducing material waste and environmental impact.

Oath is designed for aging adults, who have issues with dexterity, needle safety, storing and measuring proper dosages when administering liquid insulin. The tape and dispenser system makes using Oath as easy as applying and removing a Band-Aid. Moreover, Oath has 72% fewer environmental impacts over its life cycle when compared to the current insulin pen. The ergonomic Oath design accomplishes this by reducing the number of materials and components, minimizing waste at all stages, and using non-toxic, recyclable and renewable resources.

2nd Place / $10,000/ FLO: REUSABLE SANITARY PAD FOR GIRLS LIVING IN POVERTY /Mariko Higaki Iwai, Sohyun Kim, & Tatijana Vasily

Mariko Higaki Iwai (Product Design, 7th term), Sohyun Kim (Environmental Design, 7th term), and Tatijana Vasily (Photography, 6th term), received the second place award for ‘Flo,’ a kit that allows girls to attend school during menstrual cycles by providing a means of washing, drying and carrying reusable sanitary pads.

Menstrual cycles often prevent girls from attending school in parts of the world where disposable sanitary pads are unaffordable. The Flo system addresses this urgent need for a reusable, hygienic and private sanitary pad product that schoolgirls can use without embarrassment. Importantly, the Flo kit is an important part of the larger effort to make education available, without interruption, to girls worldwide.

3rd Place / $5,000/ CROP: MATERIAL MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR ART CENTER COLLEGE OF DESIGN/ Daniel Bromberg & Carolina Rodriguez

Daniel Bromberg [Product, 7th term] and Carolina Rodriguez [Product, 7th term] received their award for ‘Crop’, a comprehensive material management plan that shifts the current perception of waste as ‘trash’ towards one of usable and reusable materials.

Motivated by sustainability goals set forth in Art Center’s Strategic Plan, Crop was designed to ‘lead by example,’ and achieve ‘energy efficiency’ and ‘zero waste.’ The phased and multi-tiered project consists of a unique and memorable identity system, a communication campaign, and specially designed material bins that collect Compostable, Recyclable, Other and Paper materials.

Honorable Mention / PAD: URBAN HERB GARDEN / Yingting Rita Jiang

Yingting Jiang [Environmental Design, 7th term] received honorable mention for ‘Pad,’ an urban herb garden that gives city dwellers in Los Angeles the opportunity to interact with nature, engage with neighbors and the local community, and learn about water conservation and herbology.

Pad is an urban oasis designed to become an active space within an existing Los Angeles neighborhood. Seeking to bring nature and community to the cityscape, pad also serves as an educational platform where neighbors can interact and learn about water conservation, herbology, and each other. Materials and systems were carefully chosen to minimize environmental impact.

Beyonce and beyond: Pretty Hurts students explore the intersection of art, feminism and pop culture

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015
Laura Solomon

Laura Solomon

Pretty Hurts (Art 257) started out as a class that stirred debate and outright defiance both within Art Center’s student community and online publications. As the instructors of Pretty Hurts we would like to highlight the outcomes of the course as well as the projects that originated as a result of the class and how the ideas discussed fractured away from the class to influence Art Center College of Design’s student and faculty community. (more…)

Media Design Practices graduating students explore the contours of invisibility, visibility and spaces in-between

Monday, April 27th, 2015
MDP graduate Jenny Rodenhouse's thesis explores the possibilities of opening test sites to the public. Photo: Chuck Spangler

MDP graduate Jenny Rodenhouse’s thesis explores the possibilities of opening test sites to the public. Photo: Chuck Spangler

Imagine a world where scientific test sites operate like amusement parks, where robots disperse through their environment like seeds in the wind, where algorithms understand and incorporate the nuances of human language, and where the invisible data surrounding us is transformed into navigable terrain.

No, that’s not a back cover synopsis of the latest William Gibson novel, but rather thesis projects by then Media Design Practices (MDP) MFA candidates Jenny Rodenhouse, Ji Won Jun and Marcus Guttenplan, respectively, which were recently presented in the Wind Tunnel as part of that graduate program’s thesis exhibtion.


Pasadena unveils alum Catherine Menard’s Armenian Genocide Memorial

Friday, April 24th, 2015


Saturday, April 18th, 2015, was a blistering hot day in Pasadena Memorial Park. But the day’s speakers and many in the crowd wore black to the unveiling of the Pasadena Armenian Genocide Memorial, designed by alum Catherine Menard (MFA 14 Environmental Design), whose teardrop concept for the monument was chosen as the winner in 2014 competition, launched by the Pasadena Armenian Genocide Memorial Committee. We caught up with Menard on this momentous occasion to hear how she approached the weight of commemorating the estimated 1.5 million victims who died during a campaign against Armenians and other Christian minorities beginning in 1915, as well as how the experience has changed her.

How did you learn about the competition?

I was asked by Professor James Meraz to join a studio that he created through Designmatters for the specific purpose of designing memorials that we would then submit to the competition.



Alumni video: adidas Head of Innovation Al Van Noy on the intersection of design, footwear and pop culture

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

Product Design alum Al Van Noy has spent the past twenty-four years devising adidas gear to make us stronger, faster, better and, yes, cooler. As the iconic athletic brand’s Head of Innovation, Van Noy oversees a large team of designers, technologists and sports scientists responsible for anticipating industry trends and creating products designed to serve a wide array of consumers’ needs and wants, ranging from high-performance footwear for professional athletes to a suite of classic and contemporary must-have kicks and sports accessories for everyone else. In other words, it’s Van Noy’s job to maintain and enhance the star power of those three stripes.

As Art Center’s Product Design department prepares to send another cohort of students to kick off its annual PENSOLE Footwear Design Academy Challenge, a two-week footwear design master class in adidas’ US home-base of Portland, Oregon, we’re proud to feature the above video tracing Van Noy’s steps from Pasadena to Portland and his ongoing journey into the stratosphere of footwear innovation.


What is design? asks Transportation Systems and Design grad and Student Leadership Award recipient Russell Singer

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015
Russell Singer

Russell Singer

Each term, Art Center has the great honor of presenting the Student Leadership Award to a graduating student. This award fulfills Art Center’s vision of educating artists and designers who are not only leaders within their professional fields, but leaders in their communities. Based on recommendations from faculty, staff and students, this award recognizes a student who has provided leadership through participation in Art Center’s campus life, community outreach, student organizations and department initiatives.

This past Saturday, Graduate Transportation Systems Design grad Russell Singer accepted Art Center’s Student Leadership Award for the Spring 2015 term. He then listed his thank yous and fired off a question that appeared so seemingly simple it almost appeared to be pandering the crowd gathered in the Pasadena Civic for Art Center’s Spring 2015 Graduation ceremony.

What is design?