"We can look to the people of the planet in two ways. We can see 7 billion people on the planet today or 9 billion people tomorrow as the biggest threat and the biggest problem, because we are a little planet. But given that those 7 billion people are you, me, my friends and the people we know, we see them not as problems but as people with capabilities, intelligent operators. So the planet is very rich with potential intelligent operators." Ezio Manzini, Founder of DESIS (Design for Social Innovation towards Sustainability), Shareable.Net

Designmatters at Art Center College of Design as a DESIS Lab

Designmatters is where art and design education meets social change. Since 2001, Designmatters at Art Center College of Design has afforded the college’s degree students meaningful opportunities to apply their creativity and tool-box of skills to address some of the most pressing humanitarian and social challenges of our time with empathy, discipline, and unwavering optimism to effect change. Through Designmatters, Art Center students, faculty and alumni participate in trans-disciplinary studio courses, special projects and international internships that are defined by aesthetic value, business acumen and an expansive agenda for social innovation. In 2010, the department launched the Designmatters Concentration in Art and Design for Social Impact. This formal course of study adds to the program’s trajectory with curricula encompassing immersive learning experiences with “real-world” outcomes that guarantee core competencies for students who wish to succeed in careers defined by social agency in the public and private sectors alike.

Designmatters projects and courses are aligned under four key thematic areas of inquiry: public policy, sustainable development, global healthcare and social entrepreneurship. In recognition of Designmatters’ service to society, Art Center is formally affiliated with the United Nations as a non-governmental organization (NGO). Project partners and funders include a broad scope of international development organizations such as UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders and the American Red Cross, government agencies such as the United States Geological Survey and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, industry leaders such as GE Healthcare, and national foundations such as the Lemelson Foundation, the Surdna Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts. Cross-sector academic alliances facilitated by Designmatters have involved the Engineering Department at Princeton University, the Mechanical Engineering Department at the California Institute of Technology as well as the Keck School of Medicine, the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California, among others.

On the eve of its ten-year anniversary, Designmatters at Art Center College of Design continues to fulfill its original mission and form industrial designers and creative leaders with the aspiration and know-how to shape the futures we truly desire for a more sustainable and equitable world.

Click here to learn more about the Desis Network.

"We are thrilled to be part of the DESIS Network and a global ecosystem of design practitioners, researchers and educators who are positioning design as a driver for social value creation at the heart of organizational structures." Mariana Amatullo, Vice President, Designmatters Department