Tag Archives: Designmatters

Designmatters 15 buzzwords for 15 years: Co-creation


Earlier this month, in association with ArtCenter’s 85th anniversary, Designmatters Co-Founder and Vice President, Mariana Amatullo, PhD, kicked off the 15 Years of Designmatters (#DM15Yrs) storytelling campaign. Designed to celebrate and commemorate the groundbreaking program’s achievements in social impact design, this multi-platform series will feature posts of various shapes and sizes by Designmatters faculty, alumni, students and partners. The following reflection on Safe Ninos field work in Chile by faculty members Penny Herskovitch and Dan Gottlieb offers empirical proof of the value of co-creation. 

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Every day is Veterans Day for students in Designmatters’ The Healing Trauma Project

Army medics treat a victim of a bombing in Tikrit, Iraq in 2006. Photo: Christopher Stoltz

In this photo by veteran and current ArtCenter student Christopher Stoltz, Army medics treat a victim of a bombing in Tikrit, Iraq in 2006.

“When guest speakers come into the class, they can spot me in the crowd and instantly tell I’m a veteran,” says ArtCenter student and former mass communication specialist for the U.S. Navy Christopher Stoltz of meeting with experts during this term’s Designmatters course The Healing Trauma Project.  “I think they can tell by my cargo shorts,” he adds laughing. “The non-uniform uniform.”

All jokes about conformity aside, one of the main reasons Stoltz signed up for the Graphic Design-hosted transdisciplinary studio is that it dealt with a serious issue—helping veterans learn about a method for treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)—and he wanted to represent an actual veteran’s viewpoint.

“I think a lot of people assume the military experience is what you see in movies like American Sniper, very extreme war stories” says Stoltz, who grew up in  Mount Airy, NC and served in the Navy for 14 years in a number of photography-related roles, including being an aerial photographer aboard the U.S.S. Harry Truman, and covering stories in Iraq from a soldier’s point of view for the Navy’s Stars and Stripes news agency. “Not every military job involves carrying a rifle. Some veterans worked desk jobs. I carried cameras the whole time I served. I also carried a rifle, but telling stories and capturing moments was my first priority.”

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Designmatters at Sustainable Summer School – Part 1


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. Continue reading

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

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.

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

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.

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Pasadena unveils alum Catherine Menard’s Armenian Genocide Memorial


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.


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


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.

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


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.

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

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

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 IDEO.org, a non-profit born from design consultancy (IDEO).   IDEO.org 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.

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