Tag Archives: Elisa Ruffino

Art Center Honors the Memory of a Faculty Member with a Visit to his Children’s School

In 2010, beloved Art Center faculty member Norman Schureman was killed in a tragic act of gun violence. Now, three years later, his sons Milo, 15, and Kian, 12, are students at the Aveson Global Leadership Academy, a public charter school in Altadena. On May 31, a group of Designmatters’ faculty, students and alumni visited the school’s sixth and ninth grade classes to introduce Uncool: The Anti-gun Violence Project — a series of children’s books and the Where’s Daryl? middle school curriculum — dedicated to Norman’s memory.

Children’s book author-illustrator Kin Lok addresses sixth graders in Milo Schureman’s class at the Aveson Global Leadership Academy, with Illustration instructor and “Uncool” project faculty lead David Tillinghast (lower left). Photo by Christy Moision.

Designmatters Director Elisa Ruffino gave Kian’s sixth grade class an overview of the project and explained that artists and designers are creative problem solvers who play a vital and exciting role in social change. “With Designmatters, we like to say that innovation is not about seeing the world as it is, but as it could be,” she said, adding, “We’re thrilled to be carrying on this work in Norman’s honor, in his spirit.”

“Making a book is a lot of work,” Illustration instructor David Tillinghast told the students. He described the many steps it takes, from research, brainstorming and rapid protoyping, to creating the art work, refining the story and transferring the work onto a computer for layout, further refinement and ultimately printing.

Tillinghast then invited two of the Designmatters’ children’s book author-illustrators to speak. As their books were passed around the classroom, Kin Lok (Zoarmax 133’s Big Question) and Juan Marco (My Imagination Book) detailed their creative process and took questions from curious students.

Sixth grade teacher Tom Hyatt, a fan of the books and the project as a whole, noted that Lok’s story is great for teaching about perspective. “The artist is from Earth,” he said, “but he’s writing from the perspective of an alien.”

The College is donating two sets of the four-book series to Aveson, one for each of its campuses, along with the “Where’s Daryl” curriculum package.

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A Decade That Matters: Leading the Way in Social Innovation

Ten years after its founding, Designmatters is making a difference within and beyond Art Center.


“This University is not maintained…merely to help its graduates have an economic advantage in the life struggle. There is certainly a greater purpose, and I’m sure you recognize it.”

—John F. Kennedy, October 14, 1960, speaking to students at the University of Michigan

Faculty member La Mer Walker consults with students and UN Population Fund partner Christian Delsol.

As he campaigned for the White House, John F. Kennedy challenged America’s younger generation to use their talent not just to better themselves, but also to somehow make a difference in the world. Shortly after taking office in 1961, President Kennedy formed the Peace Corps, a transformational government agency that celebrated America’s core values, galvanized our national will and has facilitated service in support of that “greater purpose” for more than half a century.

Forty years later, Art Center students were surveyed on their desire to have some sort of curricular “Peace Corps-type” opportunity. The overwhelmingly positive response set the wheels in motion for what would soon become Designmatters at Art Center, the College’s innovative social-impact initiative. In addition to the Peace Corps model, the brain trust that conceived and developed Designmatters also had other influences. Erica Clark—then Art Center’s senior vice president of International Initiatives—had investigated a number of socially engaged design programs at European institutions. And here at Art Center, “Community Workshop” was already a popular graphic design class that engaged students in projects with local social-impact objectives.

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Art Center Tops IDSA College Wins with Six Awards

Cadence by Seth Astle

Today the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) unveiled the winners of the 2011 International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) program—a celebration of design excellence in products, sustainability, interaction design, packaging, strategy, research and concepts.

We’re excited and honored to report that Art Center topped this year’s list of college wins with six student and professional awards. In total, Art Center has won 59 IDEAs since 1991—more than any other school, and in the top 10 of any other institution, corporate or educational.

This year’s winners:

Product Design

Grad ID

Design Strategy & Management (professional category)

  • BRONZE: Mariana Amatullo, Elisa Ruffino, David Mocarski, Karen Hofmann, Liliana Becerra, Penny Herscovitch, Dan Gottlieb, Safe Agua project

Art Center also had many finalists:

  • German Aguirre, Centaur High Performance Quad Rugby Wheelchair
  • KC Cho and Jackie Black, SAFE AGUA: ReLava Kitchen Workstation
  • Jessica Yeh & Narbeh Dereghishian, SAFE AGUA: Ducha Halo Portable Shower
  • Stéphane Angoulvant, Dexter Work Sled
  • Joel Greenspan, Oplei Transitional Running Shoe
  • Jin Kim, Flameingo Sustainable Fire Extinguisher
  • Joey Wang, Lien Sustainable Funerary Ritual for Taiwan
  • Mark Huang, Orbital modular sport performance eyewear for POC
  • Mike Wang, STACK Traffic Control Products
  • Matthew Lim, Sennheiser Eco-Vinyl Turntable
  • Pengtao Yu, U-Haul Emergency Response Conversion Kit for the American Red Cross

Congratulations to all the students, faculty, and staff for your hard work and for a job well done! Co.Design has a nice gallery of the winners on their site.

Designmatters Presentation at TOMS

Designmatters will host an engaging program at the TOMS Give Shop and Gallery in Los Angeles on Thursday, March 31. The presentation will feature a short lecture and panel of colleagues and star students to discuss the ongoing exploration of art and design as a positive force in society.

Speakers include:

  • Mariana Amatullo, Co-Founder and Vice President, Designmatters
  • Elisa Ruffino, Producer, Designmatters
  • Dan Gottlieb, Environmental Design faculty
  • Penny Herscovitch, Environmental Design faculty
  • Narbeh Dereghishian, Product Design student
  • Jessica Yeh, Environmental Design student

The workshop is free and open to the public. For more information, visit designmattersatartcenter.org.

Designmatters - Where Art and Design meets Social Impact
Thursday, March 31, 7:30-9 p.m.
TOMS Give Shop and Gallery
1520 N. Cahuenga Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028

Happy 100 Years, OAS!

Today marks 100 years since the founding of the Organization of American States. The milestone will be celebrated with a series of events in Washington, D.C. Art Center students developed work that will be prominently featured in the celebration over the course of two funded TDS/Designmatters projects led by the Graphic Design Department last year.

Congratulations and thanks to faculty member Simon Johnston, who led the TDS that developed a new identity for the Museum of the Americas of OAS, implemented on their website. Thanks to Gloria Kondrup, Brian Boyl and Jonas Mayabb, who led the centennial rebranding TDS. A new logotype, as well various elements of the student work, have been implemented by OAS on their website. Also, a big thank you to Jonas Mayabb, who worked closely with his team, Elisa Ruffino and our OAS partners after the studio’s conclusion to create the final version of the public service announcement for the centennial. Watch it below:

PSA: Common Values on Common Ground from OAS Video on Vimeo.

It’s All Good: Designmatters Brings Innovative Guests to Campus

A major component to the mission of Art Center’s Designmatters Department, which invites students from all disciplines to address humanitarian and social challenges, is to lead “an ongoing exploration of design as a positive force in society.”

Part of this exploration takes place in the field—Designmatters has organized dozens of projects, including the recent Safe Agua Chile, in which students developed systems for storing, transporting and conserving water in impoverished Chilean neighborhoods—but another part happens right here on campus.

Special events give students the chance to meet provocative and inspirational individuals who are using design to make a real difference.

Two recent Designmatters-sponsored events at Hillside Campus did just that.

On January 28, Designmatters and Acting Chief Academic Officer Nik Hafermaas presented “Leading Change for Social Impact: Perspectives from Prominent Innovators,” a forum moderated by Adlai Wertman, professor at the USC Marshall School of Business.

The panelists for the evening event in the Ahmanson Auditorium included Mariana Amatullo, vice president and director of Designmatters, who highlighted several recent departmental projects; Rhys Newman, head of strategic projects at Nokia Design, who explained how he uses his company’s extraordinary global reach to push environmental initiatives; and Jonathan Greenblatt, founder of Ethos Water and the open-source All for Good volunteering website, who discussed the business models behind his ventures and the power of the Web to effect social change.

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