Designmatters projects are highly curated and are united by a universal objective: imagining and building a better and more humane future for all.

Product Design

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Natural Light International Design Competition Studio

In the spring of 2015, students in this advanced lighting studio participated in the first-ever Natural Light International Design Competition (co-sponsored by artist Olafur Eliasson’s Little Sun) to create an affordable, sustainable, portable and artistically-pleasing solar-powered LED lamp which would have global appeal to both off-grid communities and those in industrialized nations such as Europe and the U.S.


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The Girl Effect Studio

In the fall of 2014, Designmatters and the Product Design Department collaborated with the Nike FoundationYale School of Management and fuseproject with the challenge of empowering and getting resources into the hands of adolescent girls living in poverty around the world. Student teams on both coasts built on existing everyday practices and developed social impact design ideas for income-generating and time-saving tools and techniques that are widely accessible, radically affordable and can be used intuitively by girls in diverse cultures all over the world.


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Sustainable Ecosystem for the Future of Vans

Southern California-based Vans sponsored a trans-disciplinary studio for students to consider the world of 2025, and how the iconic shoe/apparel/lifestyle company could engage future customers in a broader world market, while offering sustainable designs, transportation and manufacturing practices along with consumer-driven customizations.


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SHE (Sustainable Health Enterprises) DesignStorm

In spring of 2014, The Educational Partnerships division, together with Designmatters, held a three-day, heavily facilitated design workshop at Art Center College of Design dedicated to our partners, Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE), and to the question: ”What is the potential for alternative product development that is in line with the SHE brand story and leverages its existing capabilities, expertise and patent-pending technology using banana fiber?”


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Safe Agua Colombia

Continuing to build on the investigations and experiences of the successful and award-winning SAFE AGUA Chile and SAFE AGUA Peru projects, students traveled to Altos del Pino, in Bogota, Colombia to co-create with families innovative technical design solutions for their community, seeking to overcome some of the social issues created by water poverty and to make an impact through resulting products and systems.


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The Aquarium of the Pacific: Open Ocean Project

Students in this Summer 2013 transdisciplinary studio applied their multi-departmental skills to create a public awareness campaign for the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California centered around the topic of ocean exploration.


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Change on the Street

In the fall of 2012, Art Center students addressed two critical issues facing the city of Pasadena: homelessness and panhandling.  Through the development of a public education campaign, and the design of re-purposed parking meters, the class sought ways to harness the community’s compassion into long-term solutions to end homelessness, and mitigate panhandling.


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Goodwill: Upcycle Lifestyle

Students spent the Summer 2012 term redesigning the spatial experience for Goodwill of Orange County’s retail stores, with a focus on social responsibility, environmental awareness and making a positive impact on the community.


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Living Home: India, Creating New Furnishing Solutions for the Living Environment

A multi-disciplinary team spent the Summer 2012 term investigating the living needs of low-income housing dwellers in India, and then building furniture prototypes for use in the high quality, low-cost housing championed by social entrepreneurship nonprofit Ashoka. VIEW PROJECT

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Safe Agua Peru

Building on the investigations and experiences of the successful and award-winning 2009 SAFE AGUA Chile, Designmatters at Art Center College of Design once again partnered with the Latin American NGO, Un Techo para mi Pais and its Innovation Center to co-create innovative design solutions to overcome water poverty with families living in Cerro Verde, a 30,000-person slum [asentamientos] perched on the hillsides surrounding Lima, Peru.


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Teen Art Park: A Place for Artistic Expression

In this two-term Environmental Design-led class, students addressed the day-to-day challenges and aspirations of greater Pasadena’s at-risk teenagers and set out to design an art park to foster safe, artistic expression.


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Project U/ HIV-AIDS Awareness Campaign with LAUSD

In this Graphic Design class, students created a peer-to-peer awareness campaign to reinvigorate HIV/AIDS prevention efforts and condom use, targeting at risk African-American and Latino youth from the LGBTQ community. The project is a collaboration with the Los Angeles Unified District (LAUSD), Health Education Programs, HIV/AIDS Prevention Unit.


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Rethinking the Food Label

A team of four Art Center students from three design majors were challenged to redesign the nutrition food label and related packaging to help consumers make more educated decisions about what, and how, they eat.


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The ARkStorm Initiative: California’s Other “Big One”

This Designmatters multi-faceted collaboration with USGS engaged decision-makers in potent design-led strategy sessions and produced public awareness tools for the ARKstorm scientific scenario. VIEW PROJECT


Aquarium of the Pacific: Project Coastal Crisis

Product design-led studio focusing on public education and action strategies to address the crisis of sea level rise, in partnership with the Aquarium of the Pacific.



Aging Desires: Designing for Transition

A collaboration with Tama Art University/Pacific Rim 6

This Environmental Design-led studio developed visionary solutions to address the Graying of the Baby Boom Generation.



Para Nuestras Hijas

Students help spread the word about the HPV vaccine to Latinas throughout LA by creating informative works of art



Creating Social Value Through Design

The students in Creating Social Value Through Design were challenged to bring their unique skills and approaches to formulate a concept designed to restore and sustain Lake Atitlan and its people.



Safe Agua: Using Design to Improve Life

Through the collaboration between Designmatters at Art Center College of Design and Latin American NGO, Un Techo para mi País, The Safe Agua Project addresses the quotidian challenges of safe water access for Chile’s poorest families living in slum developments (or campamentos) on the outskirts of Santiago.



Designing Water’s Future

Transdisciplinary strategies and systems to raise awareness and help solve the global water crisis.


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Human Rights Public Education Exhibition

Visual communication campaign on human rights in commemoration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 60th anniversary.



Project Concern International (PCI): Tijuana Mobile Health Outreach Clinic

Integrated solutions for mobile healthcare operations, as well as communications strategies to support mobile clinic outreach in Tijuana, Mexico.



GE Healthcare: Future Healthcare Solutions for the Aging

Systems and products that improve the quality of life for the elderly in multiple environments.



AGUA PURA: Providing Access to Clean Water in rural Guatemala

The Agua Pura Project started with field research in rural Guatemala in summer 2007 as part of a student team project developed in Professor Ken Pickar’s “Design for Development/Product Design for the Developing World”.



GE Healthcare: Healthcare Anywhere

What happens when a global company meets a small design school? In the case of GE HealthCare and Art Center College of Design, a collaborative effort with tremendous real-world applications.



Rebuilding New Orleans

As part of their seventh terms of academic study at Art Center, and in the wake of the devastation left by hurricane Katrina, Product Design students Wakako Takagi and Chris Favela developed a multi-phased research-based independent study project focused on renewed urban planning strategies for the City of New Orleans.



The Driven Environment in 2015

A Funded Educational Project Sponsored by Johnson Controls Interiors, Fall 2004.



Toys as Tools for Peaceful Conflict Resolution

Conflict is at the root of human nature, and an aspect of all social relationships. Yet conflict can also foster a powerful, transformative journey when we are equipped to resolve it with a positive outcome.

This publication highlights the essential role of design in enabling toys and games to become tools for peaceful conflict resolution at the hands of children. Reflecting unique ingenuity and thought, the nine new products documented herein amuse and entertain — and in so doing, also teach, comfort, and help children to successfully cope with conflict.



The Nyumbani Village: A Community Response to the AIDS Pandemic

For more than 70 years, Art Center College of Design has been a world-wide leader in art and design education.


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