“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

Calientamigos Blog_feat Image

From Austin to Bogota, Updates from Team Calientamigos™

September 16, 2014

Team Calientamigos™ had a very busy summer.  Team members Mariana Somma, Della Tosin and Safe Agua Assistant Instructor  Stella Hernandez, returned to Bogota, Colombia for another informative field research trip.  Around the same time, Tianyi Sun and Kevin Chang visited Austin, TX to attend The Exchange, IDSA International Conference  and also accept a Gold Award for Calientamigos™

The following 3 part post was written by Mariana Somma (GRAD ID), Stella Hernandez (Asst. Faculty) and Kevin Chang (PROD), on behalf of the entire Safe Agua Colombia Calientamigos™ Team.


Twitter Feed Follow Us on Twitter

DM in the News


2014 Cumulus Conference to Host First DESIS Network Assembly in Johannesburg

Designmatters Vice President, Mariana Amatullo is currently in Johannesburg, South Africa gearing up for the next  CUMULUS Conference which takes place September 22-24, 2014.  The conference will kickoff with the 1st ever DESIS NETWORK ASSOCIATION assembly on September 22nd at 3pm South African Standard Time (6am Pacific time).   Check out the link below to stream live Monday morning.


Streaming live at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/desis-network

coastal conversations

Heidrun Mumper-Drumm on the Coastal Conversation Series, Sept. 29

Art Center faculty, Heidrun Mumper-Drumm along with Jessie Kawata, creative strategist and designer for NASA at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, will be discussing  “The Role of Design and Design Thinking in Sustainability and Ocean Conservation” on the next episode of the “Coastal Conversation Series.”  The 30 minute discussion, moderated by Aquarium of the Pacific president and CEO Jerry Schubel, will be webcast live on September 29 at 10am.  Viewers are encouraged to send in questions during the live webcast via email to LIVE@LBAOP.ORG


To view the live webcast on September 29, click here.


Pasadena Repurposes Parking Meters to Collect Change for Homeless

Los Angeles Times
September 13, 2014
by Frank Shyong

Across Pasadena, fourteen repurposed parking meters will collect change for nonprofits that serve the homeless.

Read Article