“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:

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Adriana Crespo Expands Her Skill Set as an IDEO.org Intern

November 18, 2014

In the following short blog post,  Illustration + Designmatters Concentration Student, Adriana Crespo shares her experiences as a Graphic Design Intern at IDEO.org last summer.


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Happy Holidays from Designmatters

Holiday Card designed by Carlo Llacar




Safe Agua Colombia Projects Win Big at Spark Awards

Safe Agua Colombia Projects, BaldeMovil & Calientamigos are 2014 Spark: Concept Award winners!

Calientamigos designed by Della Tosin, Tianyi Sun, Kevin Chang with Mariana Somma was awarded the Highest Spark! Award and BaldeMovil designed by Kristina Jesena and Shingo Mamiya was awarded a Silver Spark Award.

To learn more about both projects checkout the Safe Agua Colombia Project page.

Click here for the complete list of winners.

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Design for Policy

Edited By Christian Bason

Mariana Amatullo contributes to Christian Bason’s latest publication Design for Policy  with a paper entitled “The Branchekode.dk project: Designing with Purpose and Across Emergent Organizational Culture.” The paper is a case study on MindLab’s innovative projects and part of Mariana’s Doctoral research.