Nikolai Cornell MDP 04 with his Infiniti Interactive Mirrors. Faculty member Phil van Allen consulted on this project.
With recent forecasts predicting that Apple will sell as many as 66 million units of their latest iteration of the iPad this year, its safe to say that what the Cupertino company dubbed as the “post-PC era” is quickly becoming a reality. But the shift from personal computers to tablets is just one aspect of a digital interactive future still being written.
This coming Fall Term, as part of the College’s Create Change initiative, Art Center will launch a new undergraduate Interaction Design degree program, in which students—whether designing a mobile app or a gestural interface for an exhibition—will learn to think deeply about the user’s experience, apply technology creatively and invent new approaches to interaction and design.
We recently sat down with Interaction Design founding faculty members Brian Boyl (Graphic Design, Integrated Studies, Product Design), Philip van Allen (Graduate Media Design) and Jeffrey Higashi (Product Design), who have been busy establishing the framework for the Department’s curriculum in anticipation of the arrival of the new department’s chair. An international search is now underway and an announcement is expected in June.
Dotted Line: Can you describe the academic interaction design landscape and how Art Center’s new program will stand out?
Art Center faculty Brian Boyl. Photo: Steven A. Heller/Art Center College of Design.
Brian Boyl: There are several graduate programs in interaction design in the United States—Illinois Institute of Technology, New York Univeristy and Carnegie Mellon to name a few—but there aren’t a lot of accredited undergraduate programs. We’d be one of the first undergraduate programs to be launched and absolutely the first to be launched in Southern California. That’s exciting. What we’re doing is looking at the core strengths of Art Center. We think the best move in creating this program is to make sure it strongly integrates with our other departments and channels their strengths.
Phil van Allen: Interaction design is by its very nature collaborative, so the idea is to build a strong program that stands on its own but that also has a kind of permeability. For example, we’ve discussed that students in Interaction Design will take Graphic Design and Product Design courses, because those two disciplines are very central to interaction design. Our students will need to have an exceptional foundation of disciplines to be exceptional interaction designers. And then there’s the core of interaction design itself, which they will have to become experts in.