“Designmatters allows us to look at the world as a classroom with an eye toward changing it for the better. We aspire to redefine and expand the role of the artist and designer into one who is a catalyst for social change and innovation.”

Mariana Amatullo, Vice President, Designmatters Department

Designmatters at Art Center is where art and design education meets social change.


An engaged mode of art and design education that forms creative leaders, Designmatters provides the know-how and aspiration to shape the futures we truly desire for a more sustainable and equitable world.


Through research, advocacy and action, Designmatters engages, empowers and leads an ongoing exploration of art and design as a positive force in society.


Designmatters is integrated across all the educational departments at Art Center College of Design. Activities are organized at 3 key levels:

As an educational magnet and research division for the college, we conceive of projects for the curriculum, oversee the DM Concentration at the undergraduate level, and partner with Graduate Media Design Practices in the MDP/Field Track;

As an agent for social impact educational projects, we are a guarantor for implementation and assessment of projects led by students, faculty and alumni;

As an external relations center for strategic partnership building, we leverage art and design education as tool for positive change in the world.


As Art Center’s social impact department, Designmatters is where local, national and global issues are encountered head-on. Participants are in the world, with the world.

Values that are embedded into the department are filtered into the curriculum, programs and projects. These values represent the spirit of Designmatters, and consist of:

Commitment: We are dedicated to looking at, confronting, researching and addressing real-world issues, and we endeavor to innovate through art and design.

Relevance: We strive to be a model for relevancy in education. We open doors for organizations to engage with artists and designers and see them as key contributors to their mission.

Engagement: We look at the world as our classroom, with an eye toward changing it for the better. Our students engage in experiential learning, giving them an insider’s awareness of the challenges confronting communities around the block or around the world.

Collaboration: We view art and design as a space that invites collaboration with other disciplines, such as: development, science, business, engineering, and anthropology. It is in the intersection between distinct areas of inquiry that we often find the most opportunity for innovation.

Empathy: We believe that artists and designers can be uniquely compassionate as how they relate to the lives of others, and with that comes great responsibility.

Action-led outcomes: We see art and design students as having the gift of creativity and the skills to execute a vision, and when immersed in a real-world context, they can be empowered to become changemakers.


“Turning outward is key to the future of higher education in art and design. Designmatters provides the platform where that can happen.”

Lorne M. Buchman, President, Art Center College of Design

OUR FOUR THEMESThe Designmatters portfolio of projects, and the learning outcomes of the DM Concentration, focus on the following areas of inquiry as they intersect with art and design:

DM Blog Subscribe to RSS feed

HyunJu_global service jam_feat image

Los Angeles Global Service Jam

April 6, 2015

In this blog post, HyunJu Chappell (MDP+Field MFA ’14) reflects on what happened when Angelenos gathered for 48 hours of human-centered design at the Los Angeles Service Design Jam. They were among thousands “jamming” simultaneously during the 2015 Global Service Jam taking place in at least 95 cities.

HyunJu graduated from Media Design Practice’s new Field program, which combines design with social engagement. For her thesis studies, she lived twice in Uganda, where she employed design and collaboration to explore youth political agency. Before coming to Art Center, HyunJu was a visual journalist working in news and features design at The Washington Post. Her latest thrills have included programming servo motors, printing on a showbill letterpress, and savoring a mochi-lato. Check out her thesis, follow her Tweets or say “hello.”


Twitter Feed Follow Us on Twitter

DM in the News


Congratulations to Spring 2015 DM Concentration Graduate, Ashley Pinnick

We congratulate our Spring 2015 Designmatters Concentration Graduate, Ashley Pinnick (ILL)

Not only has Ashley participated in several Designmatters key studio courses (like the Aquarium of the Pacific Open Ocean Project), she also volunteered at our Leap Symposium in 2013 and dedicated her time as a Designmatters student worker for a number of terms.

Check out Ashley’s student profile from last Summer as well as this blog post she wrote for us in February.

NAKFI 2015

2015 National Academies Keck Futures Initiative Conference

ONE DAY LEFT TO APPLY for an all expense paid trip to the 2015 NAKFI Conference.

The NAKFI Conference on Art and Science, Engineering, and Medicine Frontier Collaborations: Ideation, Translation & Realization will bring together a diverse group of participants to explore how arts, design, sciences, engineering, and medicine can stimulate a renaissance of innovation that solves real-world problems.

Designmatters VP, Mariana Amatullo is part of the 2015 NAKFI 12 person steering committee along with distinguished colleagues from the science, engineering and medical professions.

The conference will be held at the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center in Irvine, California on November 12-14


For more info on how to apply click here.

service innovation handbook_

Publication Spotlight: The Service Innovation Handbook by Lucy Kimbell

An action-oriented book for managers and entrepreneurs who want new ways to tackle the issues they face in terms of developing and delivering services.

To order book click here ——–> http://www.bispublishers.nl/bookpage.php?id=300