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In Celebration of Wide Open Skies

In this short blog post, former Designmatters Director, Elisa Ruffino shares candid memories and insight on over a decade of experiences working with the Designmatters Department.


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Expo Milano 2015: MDP Grad Students Exhibit Their Work on the Future of Food in Italy

In this blog post, Erika Katrina Barbosa (MDP+Field) reflects on her recent trip to Milan for the Cumulus, Design To Feed the World Exhibition, where she along with her fellow designers Josh Bookman, Nan Tsai and Elaine Cheung showcased their forkCHESTRA project.

Erika Katrina Barbosa is a designer and multimedia anthropologist. She works across disciplines with an emphasis on communication and experience design and the creation of multimedia ethnographies. Her media installations have dealt with the psychological affect of urban-waterway infrastructure, and the embodied experience of social constructs such as race, gender, and class. She is currently experimenting with performance art and motion capture in East Africa and Los Angeles to explore the subjective experience of travel. Her work has exhibited in Los Angeles, Manchester, Calgary and Milan. Follow her here. See her stuff here. Or get in touch


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10 Days in Costa Rica

Over the break, a small group of Art Center students traveled to Costa Rica to conduct field research for the Designmatters Summer TDS course, Eco Retreat Lab: Costa Rica.  The students were accompanied by faculty members James Meraz and Stella Hernandez. Stella was given the task of documenting this 10 day field research trip. The following is a short reflection of the Costa Rica field research trip and a preview of what’s to come from this exciting TDS course.

Stella Hernandez holds a B.S., from Art center college of design and a B.A.,  from Xavier University Bogota, Colombia. She is an industrial and environmental Designer and the owner of StellaH Design. 


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Los Angeles Global Service Jam

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.”


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Design For America

Late last year Alumna Mariana Somma (GRAD ID ’14)  had the pleasure to meet with and advise  USC’s Design For America  (DFA) student-led studio group. DFA is an “award-winning nationwide network of interdisciplinary student teams and community members using design to create social change.”


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Welcoming the Cumulus Executive Board to Art Center

In the following blog post, Designmatters Coordinator, Carolline Kim gives her perspective on the recent Cumulus Executive Board visit to Art Center and her role in welcoming our international guests to Pasadena. 

Carolline’s prior work in the space of social impact and education have included positions as a Program Specialist for the national award-winning organization Girls Inc., where she facilitated after-school sessions for young girls in middle and high school in the context of several at-risk school sites throughout the Los Angeles Unified School District.  Additionally, her work with students includes the international education sector, having taught at one of the largest English academies in Seoul, South Korea.


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Smart Image + Social Impact

In this short blog post, Art Center Faculty and Alumna, Esther Pearl Watson, reflects on her Fall 2014 Smart Image Social Impact class in which students were encouraged to broaden their problem-solving skills beyond visual language, while building a better understanding of ethical issues in design.


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When Passion Meets Design: My Path Toward Design for Social Change

In the following blog post, Mari Nakano (Grad Media Design ‘09) speaks on the impact of designers in social change based on her experiences as an Art Center student, Designmatters Fellow and Visual Design Lead for the UNICEF Innovation Unit.

Mari has been a designer  for over 11 years and has worked with such notables as the United Nations Population Fund, ArtWorks Projects, Women Deliver, Pepsi Co. and Design Continuum. She was also a 2008 Designmatters Fellow and has continued to support Designmatters for the past 7 years. Currently Mari is the Visual Design Lead for the UNICEF Innovation Unit.​


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Blair High School + Art Center College of Design

In the following blog post, Ashley Pinnick (ILL + Designmatters Concentration)  discusses the leadership exchange program between Pasadena’s Blair High School and Art Center, which she helped initiate with fellow Art Center students: Cassie Zhang, D’Angelo & Martel McCornell, Tom Eichackerand and Vanessa Shabahazedeh with guidance from faculty member Esther Pearl Watson.

Ashley is a graphic designer and illustrator infatuated with science, information, and technology.  She’s also a collector, an amateur comics historian; a free jazz, punk & synthwave lover, research vampire, urban explorer and pinball obsesso. To learn more about Ashley and her work, click here and here.



Aware And Awake: Creatively Transforming Behaviors and the World! Bringing Mindfulness and Social Engagement to K-12 Education

Alumna, Gala Narezo’s (Photography and Imaging ’01) exhibit  Aware and Awake: Creatively Transforming Behaviors and the World! Bringing Mindfulness and Social Engagement to K-12 Education can be seen at the Children’s Museum of the Arts in New York until January 11, 2015.  In the following blog post, Gala talks about the exhibit and how it was inspired by her Graduate students at Pratt Institute and their desire to have been exposed to social impact design principles at a much earlier stage in their education.

Currently Gala works as a multidisciplinary art director. Her recent projects have included social awareness campaigns, urban interventions and curricula development for topics as varied as immigration, sustainability and mindful education.


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

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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Reflections on My Visit to South Africa

In the following blog post, Designmatters Vice President, Mariana Amatullo shares experiences from her recent trip to Johannesburg, South Africa for the 2014 Cumulus Conference.


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Reflecting on LEAP: One Year Later

In the following blog post, Designmatters Associate Director, Jennifer May reflects on the first LEAP Symposium one year later.


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From Austin to Bogota, Updates from Team Calientamigos™

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.


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Change to spare: Art Center students develop social innovation campaign to ease homelessness

In this repost from Art Center’s Dotted Line, the Real Change Movement campaign is currently being implemented throughout the City of Pasadena. Developed in the Fall 2013 Welcome Home studio class, students sought ways to harness the community’s compassion into long-term design solutions to mitigate panhandling and address homelessness in Pasadena by designing a transmedia, public awareness campaign in conjunction with City of Pasadena leaders. READ MORE


Art Center faculty Sherry Hoffman brings Design Thinking to USGS workshop

Guest blogger Sherry Hoffman is a Research and Professional Practice faculty member at Art Center College of Design. Hoffman is also a founder and partner at (M)Arch. branded architectures, a collaboration of architects and creative marketing professionals.



The Success of Safe Agua: Students Design Solutions to Water Scarcity in Colombia

In this repost from Art Center’s Dotted Line, Alumnus Isaac Oaks offers a student’s perspective on the Safe Agua Colombia project. Continuing to build on the investigations and experiences of the award-winning Safe Agua Chile and Safe Agua Peru projects, Oaks traveled as part of a student team to Altos del Pino, in Bogotá, Colombia, to co-create innovative technical design solutions with local families, seeking to overcome some of the social issues created by water poverty and to make an impact through resulting products and systems.



Stefanie Dhillon attends the Design Futures Public Interest Design Student Leadership Forum

This June, Art Center Environmental Design student, Stefanie Dhillon, participated in the Design Futures Public Interest Design Student Leadership Forum at Tulane School of Architecture in New Orleans, supported by the Office of the Provost and Designmatters. Stefanie was also recently awarded a Muhammed Ali Center Peace Garden grant to support the Learning Garden in Altos Del Pino in Bogota, Colombia





From the Garage to the Front Lines of Social Innovation: Learning From the Less Visible Traits of Intrapreneurs

This Huffpost reblog, written by Mariana Amatullo, in collaboration with the Aspen Institute, is part of a special blog series focused on the growing importance of social intrapreneurs (change-agents within organizations large and small who are fusing business success with positive social and environmental impacts) and the value they are adding to their organizations and society.


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Filming Transformation: a Documentary for Homeboy Industries

Benjamin Weiss is a 9th term Film student at Art Center College of Design, preparing to graduate this summer with the Designmatters Concentration in Art and Design for Social Impact as part of his undergraduate degree.  In his final term at Art Center, he is serving an appointment at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach as a Designmatters Fellow. Benjamin’s portfolio can be found here: www.vimeo.com/benjaminweiss


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Pasadena Public Library “Love Our Authors” Event

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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ArtMatters Fall 2013: End of Term Summary

The following is a repost from the Artmatters Department.   This blog is a summary of the Fall 2013 Toolkit: Places/Situations/Ecologies course taught by Art Center faculty member Dave Bailey. The course was an investigation and study into the systems and structures that comprise of society.  Following the guidelines of the Artmatters concentration to approach the social sphere as classroom, Toolkit:  Places/Situations/Ecologies focused on Los Angeles as a lab for pedagogical intervention and site of investigation.


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Embracing the Quantitative Paradigm Without Giving Up On Our ‘Designerly’ Ways of Knowing

As an educator and researcher deeply immersed in questions that probe how we might better articulate and translate what I like to refer to as “the return on design” (ROD) in the public sector, I have been deeply immersed in a remarkable journey for the past three years of my PhD research at the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University.  There, I have the privilege to study in the inspirational built environment of Frank Gehry’s Peter B. Lewis building, and under the mentorship of a cadre of management and design scholars who have long championed the power of design practices to create alternative futures. Recently in fact, Weatherhead’s commitment for design as a discipline for unique inquiry has taken on a new sense of relevance with the launch of the Design and Innovation Department—a trans-disciplinary entity that brings together design faculty (with Dr. Richard Buchanan as chairman), together with experts in marketing and policy studies, as well as information systems, to think anew about the value design brings to our society’s capacity to act and innovate.


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Chronicles of India: CalTech and Art Center Students Join Forces with IIT Gandhinagar for Frugal Innovation in India

The following blog post was written by Graduate Industrial Design Student, Margaret Frye about her recent trip to Ahmedabad, India as part of a collaborative studio class with CalTech, taught by professor Ken Pickar.




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Designmatters Fellow Turns Information into Narratives with UNICEF

The following blog post was written by Designmatters Fellow Divya Gaitonde.  In this blog repost, Divya shares her experiences turning information into narratives while working with the UNICEF Innovation Unit in NYC during the Summer of 2013. 




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Muireann McMahon, Designmatters First Scholar-in-Residence

The following blog post was written by Designmatters first Scholar-in-residence Muireann McMahon with an intro by Designmatters Vice President Mariana Amatullo. In the blog,  Muireann shares what she experienced during the 6 months she worked with Art Center faculty and students on several Designmatters projects.


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Looking Back at LEAP

On September 19, the Southern California sun beamed over the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains as approximately 125 designers, activists, foundation reps and corporate actors gathered to kick off the inaugural LEAP Symposium.


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Safe Agua Colombia

In this repost, we share thoughts and images from Art Center students currently participating in the Fall 2013 Safe Agua Colombia studio led by Art Center faculty Penny Herscovitch, Dan Gottlieb and Javier Palomares.  The Safe Agua team recently conducted field research in Altos del Pino, Bogota, Colombia with the goal of co-creating with families, to design innovative solutions to overcome water poverty and make a real world impact.  Safe Agua Columbia, (part of the Safe Agua Initiative) is an educational partnership between Socialab and (the Innovation Center of South American NGO TECHO).


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Faculty Member Penny Herscovitch Shares Safe Agua in Peru & Revisits Families Who Helped Shape the Project

Penny Herscovitch is a Los Angeles-based designer and design-educator. She co-leads the design studio, Padlab, and teaches at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA. Padlab’s work encompasses materials research & innovation, illumination and spatial installation design. She has lectured and taught internationally, with work published extensively. Penny conducts research and writes for renowned institutions and firms, including Morphosis Architects. She has co-lead international collaborations including the award-winning Safe Agua project, initiated in 2009 between Art Center’s Designmatters and the Innovation Center of N.G.O. TECHO. In 2003, Penny received her B.A. in Architecture, Magna Cum Laude from Yale University.


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Creating Shared Vision by Alumni, Ramon Coronado and Marshall Rake

Ramón Coronado (GRPH 09) has worked at Weiden+Kennedy, 72andSunny, SapientNitro, and Ferroconcrete. His works have been published in GOOD Magazine, Juxtapoz, Beautiful Decay Magazine, Current_, Fast Company and Gestalten. He’s exhibited in Pure DKNY, SFHT Pop-up, 2010 World Expo: Shanghai, Smithsonian, Cumulus 2010 and Fred Segal. Ramón studied in Switzerland under mentor Wolfgang Weingart and received his BFA from Art Center College of Design in 2009.

Marshall Rake (GRPH 09) has worked at 2×4, Rumors, Mother, 180, and he is a Project M alumni. He co-founded Epilogue Magazine and They Magazine. He has exhibited at the Tokyo Art Book Fair (Tokyo, Japan) and Facing Pages Festival (Arnhem, Netherlands) and in 2009 was awarded a Certificate of Typographic Excellence by the Type Directors Club. Marshall currently teaches at Art Center College of Design where he also received a BFA in Graphic Design in 2009.


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The Collective Action Toolkit Workshop

Designmatters Concentration student Carolina Rodriguez (Illustration) shares her experiences participating in the frog Collective Action Toolkit Workshop presented by David Sherwin.


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Art Center Students Participate in the Mandela 95 Poster Project

Leonard Konopelski received his MFA from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, Poland in 1973. His works can be found in many private collections in Kyoto, Copenhagen, Berlin, Budapest, Warsaw, Ottawa, New York, San Francisco, Seoul, Strasbourg and Sydney. Leonard is currently an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Graphic Design Department at Art Center.


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

In this re-post from Art Center’s Dotted Line Blog, we are highlighting the implementation of the Uncool Initiative outcomes, “Where’s Daryl?” and the Uncool Children’s Books, at the Aveson Global Leadership Academy, in memory of Norman Schureman.


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DM Concentration Student Alex Yee, Interns at Hot Studio in San Francisco

If my department chair told me 2 years ago that by the time I graduate from Art Center, I will have conducted field research in Peru and India, studied and collaborated with MBAs in Singapore and worked at my dream company in San Francisco, I would never have believed him. Ironically, he actually did allude to such possibilities during my 4th term review and even in hindsight I’ll never know how he could have guessed so accurately. As an Environmental Design student with a Designmatters Concentration, I have been able to travel to the most curious corners of the world, meet and connect to amazing people and have learned more about myself than ever before.


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Art Center Alumna Gala Narezo’s Socially Innovative Projects Focus on Immigration, Sustainability and Mindful Education

Gala Narezo (Photography and Imaging ’01) is also a graduate of Yale University.  She started her career in television and film production before focusing on photography. Her projects have been exhibited internationally. Her book of photographs, “Locales,” documenting quickly disappearing local shops in the gentrifying neighborhood of Colonia Roma, in Mexico City, was published by Artes de Mexico. In her photography and collaborations Gala specializes in creating platforms for social issues using design thinking, and storytelling. Currently Gala works as a multidisciplinary art director. Her recent projects have included social awareness campaigns, urban interventions and curricula development for topics as varied as immigration, sustainability and mindful education.


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Letters to Home: Reasons to Travel Solo

Last summer, I was fortunate enough to intern with Designmatters. At the time, I was unsure about what to expect, and frankly, I was not completely convinced by the new found popularity of social entrepreneurship. That being said, it did not take long for me to experience, first-hand, just how effectively collaborative entrepreneurial projects can change the world around us. As I left my internship, I acquired an interest in researching the complex social problems in the world today and gauging the sustainability of the measures being taken to solve them. Coincidentally, having just been accepted to a politics and economic development program in Santiago, Chile for the fall semester, I decided to engage in this interest through a 3-week backpacking stint in South America. Carrying the skills I obtained during my time at Designmatters, I was able to participate in a rare, incredible experience.


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Art Center Students Attend 2013 Compostmodern Conference

This March, Art Center Product Design students Herbert Hsu and Kevin Heidkamp attended the 2013 Compostmodern Conference in San Francisco, supported by the Office of the Provost and Designmatters.  They were accompanied by Product Design faculty member Dice Yamaguchi and Designmatters Fellow-in-Residence Muireann McMahon. The following is a two-part blog post in which both Herbert and Kevin share their unique Compostmodern experiences.


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Hypothetical Booklets for the U.N. Highlight Hot-Button Issues Throughout the World

Ramone Muñoz, who has been teaching at Art Center for nearly 30 years, enjoys giving students design challenges with heavy research components. The class project from last Fall entitled “Perspectives” has been assigned a few times over the last 20 years.


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Cooper-Hewitt Publishes White Paper Based on the 2012 Social Impact Design Summit

In this re-post from the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, we are highlighting the Design and Social Impact white paper based on the 2012 Social Impact Design Summit.


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Art Center MDP Alumnus Dustin York Continues His Work with the UNICEF Innovation Team

Dustin York is a 2012 graduate from the Art Center College of Design with an MA in Media Design. In 2010, he was a Designmatters Graduate Design Fellow, where he worked on UNICEF’s Child Friendly Technology, a framework for adapting and deploying technology into developing regions’ primary school curriculums. In 2011, he worked with the MIT Senseable City Lab on the LIVE Singapore! project, where he designed and visualized speculative futures revolving around the real-time networked urban environment. Recently, Dustin started working as an interaction designer for Social Finance, Inc., a San Francisco-based start-up that provides an alternative to the traditional student loan by connecting alumni investors with student borrowers.




The month of December has brought about a mad dash to reach the completion of another rewarding academic term, but there is no question that the end of the calendar year and holiday season also always invites a heightened contemplative mood.  I tend to mark it with a wrap up post that usually provides a personal reflection of some of the highlights of the activities the department led, or participated in, throughout the past twelve months. READ MORE

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If You Believe You Can Fly

In this re-post from the Design Observer, Mariana Amatullo (Vice President, Designmatters) shares her experiences while in attendance at the 2012 Social Enterprise World Forum in Rio de Janeiro.


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Learning From Our Students

In this re-post from the Stories of UNICEF Blog, Chris Fabian (Co-Lead, Innovation Unit, UNICEF) shares his thoughts about global, hybrid collaborations and how they relate to current UNICEF projects.  One project in particular, involves Art Center students from the brand new Media Design Practices Field Track.  Students and faculty are currently in Kampala, Uganda conducting field research at UNICEF’s Innovation Lab.

Students on the Media Design Practices Field Track work in a real-world context where social issues, media infrastructure, and communication technology intersect.  Field track partnerships such as UNICEF are run jointly with Designmatters.

To learn more, check out the MDP/Field Track Blog.

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National Tropical Botanical Gardens Documentary

In the spring of 2012, one Undergraduate Film and  two  Graduate Broadcast Cinema students traveled to Kauai, Hawaii as part of the  Designmatters Fellowship Program, in order to create a documentary for the National Tropical Botanical Gardens. The student team was comprised of a director (Olaolu Jegede), a cinematographer (Jonathan Augustavo), and an editor (Jorge Sandoval). This project was supported by a grant from the Acacia Foundation. In this blog post, Olaolu  gives a candid account of his experiences in Hawaii directing the documentary entitled Garden in the Sea.


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Safe Agua Peru Students Awarded NCIIA E-Team Grants

Safe Agua Peru projects GiraDora and Balde a Balde were recently awarded E-Team grants from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance.


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USGS Earthquake Workshop in Colorado

Guest Blogger Sherry Hoffman is a Research and Professional Practice Faculty member at Art Center College of Design.

Colorado seems like a funny choice for a workshop on Earthquake Risk Perception. I was greeted in the Denver airport by multiple Tornado Shelter signs along with Baggage Claim and the Men and Women’s Restrooms. I didn’t realize that tornadoes were a part of their culture and way of life, the way perhaps earthquakes are a part of ours in Southern California. But we don’t have signs that tell us where to go for shelter or what to do in the event of an earthquake. It’s kind of unspoken or joked about but not part of our daily visual conscious.


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Living Home India Documentary

In May of 2012, 10 Art Center students and 2 faculty members made their way to Bangalore, India to conduct research for the Designmatters, Living Home India project sponsored by Ashoka. The team spent 9 days in Bangalore investigating the living needs of low-income housing dwellers in India, with the ultimate goal of creating a platform for developing innovative furniture and living systems for India’s estimated 130 million-person user base.


Mariana with Peter Frumkin,  Professor of Public Affairs and Director of the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin

Mariana Amatullo Presented Special Award from Dell

Designmatters Vice President, Mariana Amatullo was recently presented the inaugural Outstanding Leadership in Social Innovation Education Award from the Dell Social Innovation Challenge.


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Experiencing Bangalore and Our New Collaboration with Ashoka India

“Experiencing like breathing is rhythm of intakings and outgivings. The succesion is punctuated and made a rhythm by the experience of intervals, periods in which one phase is ceasing and the other is inchoate and preparing.”

- John Dewey in Art as Experience


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Safe Agua Peru Projects, Balde a Balde and GiraDora Showcased at the 2012 NCIIA Open Minds Conference

Safe Agua Peru’s Giradora and Balde a Balde teams did a fantastic job pitching at two Open Minds events, during the annual NCIIA Open Minds Conference in San Francisco.


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Design for Development and the Base of the Pyramid

Dave Foster (Advertising ’05) is a social innovation designer, focused on creating solutions for social and environmental benefit based on deep understanding of issues and communities in need.  His expertise is in social enterprise, sustainability and, increasingly, development and appropriate technologies.  He is the founder and editor of BoP Designer, a website and blog dedicated to “solutions and social innovations at the ‘base of the pyramid’”. His personal portfolio can be found at davefoster.info.  Dave currently lives in Dubai, UAE.


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GiraDora is Going to Texas!

At the onset of 2012, select members from the Safe Agua Peru team made their way to the University of Texas at Austin to participate in the Dell Social Innovation Challenge Sustainable Vision Venturelab, with the goal of sharing preliminary design outcomes as well as learning business strategies to move their projects forward.  In the following blog post, Alex Cabunoc (Product Design) gives insight into his time spent in Texas and shares the process of preparing a business plan for his design, GiraDora (a human powered washer and spin dryer). In addition to GiraDora, two other Safe Agua Peru projects also participated in the Venture lab; Balde a Balde (a portable faucet that provides running water from any bucket) and Vitamigos (a new fun, playful, & interactive experience for moms & kids that brings together water purification & nutrition in a tasty beverage).


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Ducere/To Lead

With the Designmatters December/January blog entry, it has become sort of a tradition to take a beat to reflect about milestones, while jotting down some thoughts about what may lay ahead with the start of the New Year.



Lily of the Valley

Alumnus Daniel Lee (Graphic Design 07)  recently returned home to New York City after completing six weeks of volunteer work at Lily of the Valley, an orphanage in South Africa that has been providing love and care to children abandoned or orphaned due to the HIV/AIDS pandemic for over 20 years. In this blog post, Daniel reflects on his days in South Africa and discusses the experiences that have influenced him to return for an additional six months to continue his work at the orphanage.


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Students Travel to Lima, Peru to Test Safe Agua Peru Midterm Concepts

Students Mariana Prieto (Product Design) and Erik Anderson (Graduate Broadcast Cinema) recently completed a return trip to Lima, Peru as part of the Fall term Safe Agua Peru studio.


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Safe Agua Chile Project at the United Nations

Outcomes from the award winning Safe Agua Chile project are being featured in the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum’s “Design with the Other 90%: Cities” Exhibition at the United Nations (October 15, 2011-January 9, 2012.)  Guest bloggers Penny Herscovitch (Environmental Design faculty), Dan Gottlieb (Environmental Design faculty),  Liliana Becerra (Product Design faculty) and Elizabeth Bayne (Graduate Broadcast Cinema alumna)  attended the exhibition opening in NYC.  In this post, the team gives some insight into the experience of being recognized by Design with the Other 90% and having their work showcased at the United Nations.


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With the facilitation of Designmatters and the Provost’s office, students Siddharth Vanchinathan, Byron Wilson and Jasen Mehta (Graduate Industrial Design) conducted field research in Kerala, India, over the summer as part of a student and faculty team from Caltech, Saintgits College of Engineering and Saintgits Institute of Management.  The field research has informed and grounded their current work investigating design solutions for “base of the pyramid” markets.

This research trip is continuing as part of their current course work for Design for Development (E/M 105), a Caltech class led by Visiting Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Ken Pickar.  Instructor Nathan Allen is the Art Center faculty mentor for the team.

In this repost from the team’s blog, Graduate Industrial Design student Siddharth Vanchinathan gives an earnest account of this recent trip to India.


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Cerro Verde

Designmatters Vice President, Mariana Amatullo reflects on her time spent in Cerro Verde,  a community on the outskirts of Lima, Peru where Art Center students have been conducting  field research in collaboration with the Innovation Center of Un Techo Para Mi Pais, as part of the Safe Agua Peru project.


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Sustainable Vision Teaching Lab NCIIA Colorado State University, June 13 – 17, 2011

Guest Blogger Liliana Becerra (Product Design, Faculty) shares her experiences participating in the National Collegiate of Inventors and Innovators Alliance’s (NCIIA) first Sustainable Vision Teaching Lab held at Colorado State University.


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The Colombia Experience: Design is a Two Way Street

Guest Blogger Mariana Prieto di Colloredo (Product Design, 6th term) is the lead contact of Art Center’s social impact student organization, Mustard;  a member of the sustainability-focused student organization Eco-Council; and a candidate for the Designmatters Concentration in Art and Design for Social Impact.



William Tang (PROD ’10) featured in Alumni Spotlight from May to July 2011

The following was featured in our Alumni Spotlight section from May to July. For the most current feature, please visit the Resources page and scroll to the bottom.

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by Mariana

On my plane ride back from D.C. to LA last week, I kept marveling about yet another first for us at Art Center: the opportunity to have a public showcase for our collaboration with the Innovation Center of Un Techo Para Mi Pais at the atrium lobby of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). READ MORE


Art Center student wins Art Directors Club Gold and Cannes Award with Zambia Film

Guest Blogger John X. Carey (Film Department, 8th term) is the recipient of the 2011 Young Director’s Award from the Cannes Film Festival as well as the Art Director’s Gold Cube Award for his film, “Voices from the Field”.


Team Ducha Halo was invited to showcase their pressurized shower system at NCIIA's 2011 OpenMinds Conference this Spring.

Ducha Halo showcase at NCIIA’s Open: Catalyzing Innovation Conference

Bright and brilliant minds gathered at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History on Saturday, March 26th, for Open Minds 2011, the student exhibition organized by the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA) in conjunction with the organization’s 15th Annual Conference, Open: Catalyzing Innovation. The conference was attended by more than 380 faculty and students throughout the country who share NCIIA’s vision and benefit each year from its mission: “to support technology innovation and entrepreneurship in universities and colleges to create experiential learning opportunities for students, and successful, socially beneficial businesses.”


A Great Wave of Transformation: One Student’s Journey in South Sudan

[Reprinted in part from Art Center's blog The Dotted Line]

Teed ["in waiting"]: Portraits of South Sudanhighlights portraits and images captured while Graphic Design student Tyler Paulson served local missionaries in the region during parts of 2008 and 2010. Paulson’s journey captures a sensitive, yet exciting transition for a generation of people that have only known war. His images praise a world of peace which has quickly opened exciting opportunities for healing and growth.


Where Designers and Geo-Scientists Converge

Guest blog by Bianca Fuchs, student, Graphic Design Department

Designers and geo scientists? That seemed to be the unasked question on the minds of the engineers, policy makers, meteorologists, emergency managers, and other participants at the  US Geological Survey’s ARkStorm Summit in Sacramento on January 13 and 14, 2011.



Not Another Year in Review

As I sit down to write the final blog entry of the year, I am making a conscious decision to resist compiling another trite “year in review” about what we have been up to with Designmatters at Art Center.


Safe Agua Gets Top Spark Award

Last October, our class of 12 students was still busily refining concepts, building mockups, and preparing for midterm presentations for Safe Agua, a sponsored project focused on addressing water issues in the campamentos, or slums, of Santiago, Chile. Since then, six projects were developed, including a shower solution, dishwashing station, and community laundromat being field-tested by Un Techo para Chile.



Better City, Better Life

Art Center’s fall term started for us on the heels of an extraordinary week in Shanghai. Highlights included the opportunity to experience first hand the pageantry and wondrous scale of the 2010 World Expo;



Just add water

Who needs an alarm clock when you can wake to the sound of a choir of monks?

NikolausKloster, a 600 year-old monastery in Germany has an atmosphere that I would describe as a charming castle mixed with a frat house. This special place was home to me and 23 others for a week as we learned about key issues of sustainability and attempted to tackle some of them.



Spring Pathways

This famous verse from the great Spanish poet Antonio Machado kept echoing in my head during the events that marked the end of Spring term at Art Center two weeks ago—the college’s 80th anniversary and formal inauguration of Art Center President Buchman, and the graduation of the Spring 2010 class.



From the Field: Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

Tradition still holds sway over the contemporary mores and every-day logic of the western world in the diverse villages that make up the Lake Atitlán watershed in Guatemala.



The Haiti Earthquake

The Haiti Earthquake is a natural and man-made disaster of catastrophic proportions with tragic loss of life, immense heartbreak and widespread devastation. Hard to comprehend that this long-suffering and impoverished island nation would have to be the one, of all places, to endure the wrath of such an event. A quake that experts already anticipate will be ranked as one of the most destructive in modern history. READ MORE

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Back in Santiago: the Delivery of a Special Gift

I write the last post of the year from Santiago, Chile, where a workshop on social innovation co-organized by the Inter-American Developmental Bank (IADB) and our partners from the Innovation Center of Un Techo para Mi Pais brought together a handful of educators in business, engineering and design from universities across Latin America (Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Costa Rica, Chile, Colombia, Brazil and Peru were represented) to connect about best practices and “apply innovation and creativity to fulfill unmet human needs” and improve basic quality of life of low-income communities—a population of 360 million folks throughout the continent who make the bottom of the pyramid bracket. READ MORE

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Aspen Design Summit

I’m back from glorious snowed-in Aspen Meadows, where AIGA and Winterhouse Institute staged the Aspen Design Summit. This meeting was focused on complex, real world problems that can be addressed through the ingenuity and “progressive reach of design’s influence,” in the words of AIGA’s Richard Grefé. READ MORE

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My IDDS Experience

I would like to call it a conincidence that my IDDS experience started with butterflies and ended with butterflies. The picture that documents my arrival at Tek Credit Union Hostel at KNUST, Kumasi does not capture the butterflies that were in my stomach. READ MORE

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“Agua Pura”- A Low Cost Solar Water Distiller

It all started due to one startling statistic, that 98% of the water in Guatemala is contaminated. READ MORE

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From the field: En Busca de un Sueño

Two of our fall project collaborations were launched this past month of August with several days of immersive field research in rural villages outside Antigua, Guatemala, and slum communities in the southern outskirts of Santiago, Chile. READ MORE

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Influential Conversations

Designmatters was part of the Big City Forum program recently–Leonardo Bravo’s “creative speakeasy” as he sometimes informally refers to it, a truly present-day LA salon that engages an eclectic group in conversation about the multiple layers (urban, civic, social, economical, design-driven) that make up the fragmented reality of our city. READ MORE


Does Design Matter?

Reflections on self-validation; what is the role of “Social Design”?

Clearly I’m trying to outsmart myself by playing off the name of my blog host; but I’m hoping this invitation will allow me to explore some questions that have dogged me –and possibly others as well? — for quite a while now. READ MORE

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Winning at the Art Directors Club Awards, New York

Spring time in New York, cocktails, delicious food and two major awards – all in one night! I had the honor of representing the “Images Speak” team during the 88th Art Directors Club gala party in New York. The event took place in the charismatic Manhattan Art Gallery District at the ADC gallery. READ MORE

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About Creativity and Hope

We are well midway into spring. The past several weeks for me have been marked by encounters and events that brought home, and together, in more than one instance, the elusive meaning of words such as “creativity” and “hope” – which can otherwise pepper language and conversation in pretty banal ways. READ MORE

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Change Through Art

Being a part of a group working on a project for Human Rights was one of the most amazing experiences for me at Art Center. I had always wanted to make a change through art and was continuously looking for ways to apply my artistic skills where there was a need for change. READ MORE

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Compostmodern Conference ‘09

Earlier this year I approached Designmatters with an interest in attending Compostmodern, a one-day conference in San Francisco built around the topics of Sustainability, Design, and Business. With the support of Designmatters, I was able to attend the event along with fellow student Yana Kramskaya, which overall helped me gain an idea of what the conversation was like surrounding these increasingly relevant and interwoven fields. READ MORE

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Believe You Can Fly

I had the opportunity to spend some face time recently in New York with Cynthia E. Smith and Matilda McQuaid who are part of the curatorial team behind the upcoming Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum Triennial scheduled for spring 2010 (check out their blog to submit ideas.) The Triennial will be focusing heavily on this conversation about design for social impact by answering the question Why design now? Why is design an essential tool for solving some of today’s most urgent problems?


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Designmatters with Mustard

I’m very excited to announce the pairing of our Designmatters initiative with the new student-led social impact design group at Art Center: Mustard. Now that discussion of design for social action has reached fever pitch, it only makes perfect sense that Art Center should have its own student-formed grassroots movement to further dialogue and action on this topic. READ MORE

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Clinton Global Initiative University 2008

With the support of Designmatters, in March 2008 we had the privilege to attend the Clinton Global Initiative, a two-day event that took place at Tulane University in New Orleans. The conference brought together university students from every state and 15 countries. Each student proposed a Commitment to Action, which would tackle a global problem through a self-initiated solution. The global problems addressed were climate changepeace and human rights, and poverty alleviation. READ MORE

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That’s a Wrap: Looking Back at 2008

When the first A.D. signals the end of production on set with a triumphant “that’s a wrap folks!”, one can sense the very last, exhilarating peak of energy sweep through the cast and crew, with echoing cheers, smiles, and the collective satisfaction of a large job just completed. A frequent visitor to my husband’s sets, this is somehow the image of closure that my mind conjures up as I look back at 2008 and muse over the intensity and diversity of Designmatters projects that culminated this past year. READ MORE

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Preparing (Optimistically) For Disaster

You couldn’t pick a better time to host an international disaster preparedness conference. Staggering economic challenges, this historic U.S. election of Barack Obama, and fires in the L.A. hills. Change and volatility – both highs and lows – have ruled recent weeks. READ MORE

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A Global Crescendo, Photography Exhibit at United Nations

A Global Crescendo: Women’s Voices from Conflict Zones, a collaboration between the International Rescue Committee and writer and photographer Ann Jones, is a special exhibit featuring women’s voices and photographs taken by survivors of conflict from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Cote d’Ivoire. READ MORE

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Seasonal Musings and Traveling Images

As we ready for the great intensity of midterm reviews at Art Center–seven full weeks into our fall academic term–I wanted to briefly revisit early September and note one of the recent highlights of the Designmatters program: an exhibition and workshop of student work “Images for Human Rights,” celebrating the Declaration of Human Rights, at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris during the 61st Annual DPI/NGO Conference: “Reaffirming Human Rights For All(September 3-5). READ MORE

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Designing Water’s Future Studio, Guest Expert Presentation by Tara Lohan

Designmatters recently welcomed guest speaker, Tara Lohan, Senior Editor at Alternet and editor of the book Water Consciousness, to Art Center to give a talk on the global water crisis in this term’s Designing Water’s Future transdisciplinary studio. The goal of this studio, involving Environmental Design, Product Design, and Graphic Design students, is to generate a public awareness campaign about the global water crisis and inspire communities into action. READ MORE

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TransLocalMotion–Summer School in Shanghai, China

My name is Gabriel Wartofsky, I’m currently a 7th term transportation design student at Art Center, and through sponsorship provided by Designmatters and the Art Center Sustainability Summit, I am am one of three Art Center students (along with Arthur Leung and Seon Young) who participated in “TransLocalMotion,” the international summer school initiative hosted by the Tongji University of Architecture and Design in Shanghai, China in August. READ MORE

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Images Speak Book Wins Silver Spark Award

Images Speak, a Designmatters publication documenting the health education materials developed as part of the Mpala project, was just awarded a Silver Spark Award! READ MORE

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Conclusion of the International Development Design Summit

We are very proud that two Art Center Product Design students, Bryce Butcher and Nathan Cooke, were selected to participate in the second IDDS Summit hosted by MIT, Olin College, and Cooper-Perkins, and sponsored by Rockefeller Foundation and National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance. READ MORE

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Designmatters Presentation at IDEO “Know How” Series, July 31, 2008

While it was a thrill to connect and spend some time in the company of Tim Brown following his terrific keynote at Serious Play, Art Center’s Design Conference, his invitation to present the Designmatters program at IDEO’s celebrated Thursday “Know How” lectures series, was quite the unexpected gift. READ MORE

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Project Developed in Designmatters Studio Wins IDEA Prize

We are pleased to announce that the Color Guard Moquito Net project developed in the Fall 2006 Designmatters transdisciplinary studio collaboration with GE Healthcare is the recipient of an award from the Industrial Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) sponsored by Businessweek. This is an international competition and Art Center is the only U.S. design school to win awards (four total in the student category). READ MORE

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Changing the Change Conference, Torino, July 11-12, 2008–A Call to Action for Design with Social Impact

“Being a designer is being a realistic optimistic,” this was one of Enzio Mazini’s key opening messages at the thought-provoking Changing the Change Conference that brought an international audience of educators, researchers, designers and practitioners among us to present our papers, share project case studies and ponder the state of design research today and into the future, particularly as it pertains to key issues of sustainability and social impact. READ MORE

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Update on the Flintridge Operating Foundation Spring 2008 studio

It’s so exciting everytime we see Designmatters projects go from a final display on Art Center walls out into the community for real world application. Our project partner, Flintridge Operating Foundation, has recently added the Dilemmas Campaign, developed in our Spring studio collaboration, to their website for use and distribution by their partners. READ MORE

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Human Rights Posters Featured on Design 21

The midterm work of this Summer’s transdisciplinary studies studio on human rights awareness is featured on Design 21, a social design network in partnership with UNESCO and Fellisimo. READ MORE

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Art Center Students Win Southern California World Water Forum College Grant

I had the pleasure of representing Designmatters at the Southern California World Water Forum College Grant Program Award Ceremony hosted by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California on May 30, 2008. READ MORE