Posts Tagged ‘Designmatters’

Designmatters at Sustainable Summer School – Part 1

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015


In the first of Designmatters‘ three part Sustainable Summer School blog series, Product Design student and head of the ArtCenter EcoCouncil, Arotin Hartounian reflects on his time spent at the 7th annual summer school program in Western Germany.

authorphotoAt a 17th century monastery situated in a rural area of Western Germany, 28 students gathered for the 7th annual Sustainable Summer School. The summer school program is organized by a collaboration of the Ecosign Academy, Folkwang University of the Arts, and The Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment, and Energy. The Designmatters Department at ArtCenter in partnership with the Provost’s office generously sponsored three students to attend this program. Most of the students were from Germany with one student each from Italy, Spain, and Austria. Janya, Daniel and I were the only students from the USA. Over the course of 7 days we lived and studied at the monastery with all the students and teachers. The students were divided into three workshops, each focusing on different ways design can initiate and support sustainable behavior in our daily life. (more…)

Oh, the humanity!: How inclusive design transforms the designer as much as the user

Friday, September 4th, 2015
Transgenerational Emergency Recovery: A 100 Year Action Plan. Fukushima, Japan. 2014 - Present. Image Credit: Sean Donahue

Transgenerational Emergency Recovery: A 100 Year Action Plan. Fukushima, Japan. 2014 – Present. Image Credit: Sean Donahue

Inclusive design. People-centered design. Design for all. Universal design. Each of these practices is an attempt to articulate a design approach that puts the individual at the center of the design agenda.  For me this approach takes shape a bit differently in that it also forcibly puts at its center multiple points-of-view, orientations and abilities. This practice has led me to produce some pretty unusual outcomes for a designer—graphic design for people who do not see, communication spaces for people who do not speak and technology for people who have no power. And although these projects were designed to support issues significant to others, they simultaneously afforded me a unique opportunity to question the convenient assumptions we so often default to when considering what people need.


Doing well by doing good: ArtCenter students’ social impact innovations win big at 2015 IDEA awards

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015

Though the hum of activity in the halls and classrooms of Hillside and South campuses has temporarily lulled as we await the start of the Fall term, Summer 2015 has ended on a high note with this week’s news that ArtCenter students’ innovative prototypes and projects were honored by the prestigious Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) at the organization’s International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) in Seattle on August 22.


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.



The Girl Effect Studio: Nike + Designmatters team up to equip teen girls for social change leadership

Monday, April 13th, 2015


In the fall of 2014, Designmatters and Art Center’s Product Design Department collaborated with the Nike FoundationYale School of Management and fuseproject with the challenge of empowering and getting resources into the hands of adolescent girls living in poverty around the world. Student teams on both coasts built on existing everyday practices and developed social impact design ideas for income-generating and time-saving tools and techniques that are widely accessible, radically affordable and can be used intuitively by girls in diverse cultures all over the world.


Prominent theorist Ezio Manzini to discuss new book connecting design culture to social change

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015


Ezio Manzini

Ezio Manzini

Ezio Manzini, a leading force in social impact design and founder of the DESIS (Design for Social Innovation towards Sustainability) network of university-based design labs (including Art Center’s Designmatters department), will present a lecture based on ideas addressed within his new book, Design, When Everybody Designs, published by MIT Press. The event, which begins at 7pm in Art Center’s LA Times Media Center, will include an hour-long talk about design culture’s role in driving the future of social change and a book signing at 8pm.

The following excerpt from Manzini’s book, which was originally published as part of Mapping Social Design‘s Expert Workshop, offers an enticing preview of the innovative and deeply-considered ideas Manzini will address in his presentation at Art Center next week:

In the 21st century social innovation will be interwoven with design as both stimulus and objective, indeed it will stimulate design as much as technical innovation did in the 20th century. At the same time, it will be what a growing proportion of design activities will be seeking to achieve. In principle, design has all the potentialities to play a major role in triggering and supporting social change and therefore becoming design for social innovation. Today we are at the beginning of this journey and we still need a better understanding of the possibilities, the limits and the implications of this emerging design mode, but what is already clear is that design for social innovation is not a new discipline: it is simply one of the ways in which contemporary design is appearing. Therefore, what it requires is not so much a specific set of skills and methods, but a new culture, a new way of looking at the world and at what design can do with and for people living in it.


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

Wednesday, 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.


Designmatters student Adriana Crespo hones her human-centered design skills in Nigeria

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015
Designmatters student Adriana Crespo

Designmatters student Adriana Crespo

This past summer, I was fortunate enough to be part of an incredible team of creative people with backgrounds in business design, interaction design, industrial design, engineering and writing, to mention a few. This multidisciplinary group of people make up, a non-profit born from design consultancy (IDEO). saw the power and success of design thinking and human-centered design, and decided to apply these methodologies to solve pressing issues of poverty around the world.

Being a Designmatters Concentration student, I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity to start exercising my design skills in the social impact field. My title of “graphic design intern” only partially describes all the tasks and challenges I was asked to take on.


And the Gold Award goes to…Safe Agua Colombia Team Calientamigos at IDSA International Conference

Monday, November 10th, 2014

Team Calientamigos™ had a very busy summer. The Designmatters team members Mariana Somma, Della Tosin and Safe Agua Assistant Instructor Stella Hernandez returned to Bogotá, Colombia, for another informative field research trip. Around the same time, Tianyi Sun and Kevin Chang visited Austin, Texas, to attend The Exchange, IDSA International Conference, and to accept a Gold Award for Calientamigos™. Commenting on the students’ winning project, IDSA jury member Oscar Peña, global creative director for Philips Design Lighting, described it thus: “Authentic, inventive and playful solution to an everyday need. Good understanding of the value of doing daily rituals together.”

The following three-part post was written by Mariana Somma (Grad ID student), Stella Hernandez (Environmental Design BS 11) and Kevin Chang (Product Design student), on behalf of the entire Safe Agua Colombia Calientamigos™ team.


mariana_headshot-300x300I recently had the privilege of joining the Calientamigos™ Team, which began through the Designmatters Safe Agua Colombia project. Through very tenacious last-minute efforts, I flew to Bogotá, Colombia, with teammate Della Tosin, with efforts to take with us five new Calientamigos BOMBA™ heater prototypes to the families living in the settlement of Altos del Pino (ADP), as well as check in on the first two rounds of prototypes left with the families over six months ago.  The experience was incredible, and meeting the families of ADP is one I will never forget. It was amazing to see the families using the Calientamigos™ system to heat water for bathing, cooking, cleaning, and even washing their family pets! For example, a family of 10 uses the BOMBA™ heater on a daily basis to heat bath water, saving them hours of time heating on a conventional stove, and with significant reduction in their gas bills.


Illustrators inspire and lead the way at global gathering

Monday, September 8th, 2014

A sell out crowd squeezed into the Portland Art Museum earlier this summer to experience ICON8, the world’s premier illustration conference, where Art Center leaders dominated the spotlight. More than a year in the planning, ICON8 is a must-go event for anyone serious about illustration and eager to mingle with all the key trade influencers.

Just being invited to speak is an honor in the illustration world, on par with headlining at SXSW, screening your film at Cannes or showing your classic wheels at Pebble. Organizers, who aim to amaze, inform and inspire, select only the top illustrators, designers, art directors, educators, reps, publishers and makers to occupy the main stage or lead workshops.