“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.


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“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:

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Pasadena Public Library “Love Our Authors” Event

March 31, 2014

In this short blog post, Art Center alumna Vivan Shih (Illustration ’13) shares her experience being a part of the Pasadena Public Library’s  Inaugural “Love Our Authors” Event and showcasing her childrens book “Amos’ New Life.”


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Safe Agua Colombia: Calientamigos Wins an A’ Design Award

Art Center product design students Tianyi Sun, Della Tosin and Kevin Chang who also go by the name Team TDK, were recently awarded a Silver A’ Design Award for their Safe Agua Colombia project Calientamigos.

Calientamigos is a water heater and pressurized shower system that allows families living without hot running water to heat and pressurize water for bathing, cooking and cleaning.

The A’ Design Award and Competition is the worlds’ largest design competition awarding best designs, design concepts and products & services.

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Designmatters Inaugural Newsletter

The Designmatters team is pleased to announce the launch of our inaugural newsletter.

Our Spring 2014 Newsletter features recent updates on Designmatters projects as well as information on our expanding Fellowship Program.

To view newsletter click here.

To subscribe click here.


First 72 Hours

Support Safe Agua Colombia Project Calientamigos in the UNICEF First 72 Hours Challenge

Safe Agua Colombia project, Calientamigos designed by Art Center Product Design students Tianyi Sun, Della Tosin and Kevin Chang has advanced to the next round of the UNICEF/Socialab First 72 Hours Challenge. Take a moment, click on the link below and vote for Calientamigos. Every vote counts!


Click here to vote.