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

natural light comp_feat image

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.


ILL Journalism_feat image 1

Illustrated Journalism Studio

This Designmatters studio presented students with the skill sets to reimagine how illustration is used on all of today’s fast-paced media platforms. Building on contemporary topics of social concern, as well as personal revelations, students became informational storytellers as they explored text/visual pieces, traditional print outlets, and the ever-changing landscape of multimedia digital formats.


girl effect_feat image2

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.


Vans_featured image

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.


Cites feat image

CITES Project for the U.S. Department of the Interior

In the Summer of 2014, faculty and students from the Advertising Department teamed up with Designmatters and the U.S. Department of the Interior Technical Assistance Program (US DOI ITAP) office in Chile to create a campaign to raise awareness on illegal trafficking of endangered species in order to catalyze public support towards a direct call to action for Chile’s policy makers to enact CITES legislation.


Arthritis Studio_feat image2

Arthritis Foundation Studio

In Summer 2014, this Designmatters studio hosted by the Graphic Design department positioned students and faculty to work with national and regional leadership of the Arthritis Foundation to contemporize the Foundation’s brand strategy for the long-term future, create a communication program spread across multiple platforms and produce a clear, memorable and user-friendly print, online and broadcast presence.


SHE_feat image 3

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?”


Homeboy_feat image

The Homeboy Project

In the Spring of 2014, Homeboy Industries partnered with Designmatters on a Graphic Design-led studio class with the goal of elevating the Homeboy brand and amplifying its presence in Los Angeles.


SAC cyan logo

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.


real change movement_feat image 2

Real Change Movement

Students in the Fall 2013 Real Change Movement studio, addressed homelessness in Pasadena by designing a transmedia, public awareness campaign in conjunction with City of Pasadena leaders. By activating public support for tangible, self-sustaining housing solutions for Pasadena’s homeless communities, the students in the class aimed to create an actionable campaign for real change. The Real Change Movement studio is a continuation of the Fall 2012, Change on the Street studio in which Art Center students sought ways to harness the community’s compassion into long-term design solutions to end homelessness, and mitigate panhandling.


open ocean feat image

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.


on the fence feat image 2

On the Fence

In the Spring of 2013, the Illustration department hosted the Designmatters, On the Fence studio.  The students were given the challenge of designing and installing a large scale mural on the topic of youth unemployment.


library worshop feat image

Uncool: Children’s Library Workshop Series

In April of 2013, the Pasadena Public Library and Designmatters co-hosted a series of hands-on creative workshops for children and their families, with the educational objective to raise anti-gun violence awareness in young children without raising fear.


Next Wave 2 feat image

The Next Wave: Know the Tsunami

Building upon the work of the fall 2012, Next Wave branding and identity campaign, this Spring 2013 class was challenged to create a visually appealing, scientifically-based, entertaining and quality motion graphics film for USGS partners, to disseminate important tsunami early warning messages for Southern California.


healing cloud feat image

Coaniquem: The Healing Cloud Project

Students in this spring 2013 TDS applied their multi-departmental skills to create a global campaign with a twofold focus: to develop positive burn prevention messages, and to increase awareness and support for children burn victims.


Wheres daryl feat image_2

LAUSD “Where’s Daryl?” Educational Program

“Where’s Daryl?” is an anti-gun violence educational toolkit for educators and middle-school youth. The program emphasizes prevention, and asks youth to consider their assumptions about guns and discuss the real negative impacts they can have on their lives and goals.



Armenian Genocide Memorial: Design in the Public Space for Reflection and Remembrance

In the fall of 2012, Art Center students responded to a public RFP issued by the City of Pasadena to submit proposals for the architectural design and construction of an Armenian Genocide Memorial to be erected in Pasadena’s Memorial Park. VIEW PROJECT

Next Wave feat image 2

The Next Wave

In the fall of 2012, students in this Trans-Disciplinary Studio addressed the vital need for the coastal communities of Southern California to have a clear and engaging message about the risks and hazards of tsunamis.


Change on the Streets feat image

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.


goodwill project feat image 2

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.


living home india feat image

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

Uncool 2 feat image

Uncool 2: The Anti-Gun Violence Project

Uncool: The Anti-Gun Violence Project is the second phase of a two-term studio supported by the Nathan Cummings Foundation.  Hosted by the Illustration department, the studio focused on the creation of illustrated children’s books as viable vehicles for anti-gun messages in children ages 6-7 years old.


UNFPA feat image

Supporting the Programme of Action of the ICPD: A Campaign to Promote Young People’s Voices and Choices

Designmatters was invited by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to partner in developing a campaign with a powerful call-to-action for achieving the goals set forth in the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), specifically the agenda guiding UNFPA’s mandate to advance the human rights of young people and ensure meaningful youth participation in decision-making processes.


uncool feat image


In this multi-disciplinary studio hosted by Advertising supported by a grant from the Nathan Cummings Foundation, students created a violence and gun prevention campaign designed to serve a diverse population of at-risk youth. This project is a collaboration with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Health Education Programs, HIV/AIDS Prevention Unit.


bus shelter feat image 3

Friends of the Bad Weather Shelter Campaign

In this collaboration between Designmatters and the City of Pasadena, Illustration Department Chair, Ann Field was given the challenge to art direct a series of compelling bus shelter posters along with, recent graduate, Patrick Hruby (Illustration ’10) to help raise awareness for the Pasadena Bad Weather Shelter.


safe agua peru feat image

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.


tap featured image

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.


Project U feat image

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.


nutrition featured image

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.


Safe Agua exhibition feat image

Safe Agua – Exhibitions

The Safe Agua Exhibition captures the outcomes of the social innovation collaboration for Bottom of the Pyramid Markets between the Innovation Center of Un Techo Para Mi País based in Santiago, Chile, and Designmatters.  The exhibition was conceived to tour internationally as an important public educational resource to illustrate the impactful outcomes of the Safe Agua project collaboration and serve as an exemplar of the leading work of both organizations in the arena of community engagement and international development through design and innovation. VIEW PROJECT


SHE (Sustainable Health Enterprises): Awareness Campaign Directions

A studio hosted by the Illustration department, in collaboration with SHE (Sustainable Health Enterprises),  to raise awareness and motivate action in the U.S. to address a critical lack of access to affordable, eco-friendly sanitary products for many women in developing countries such as Rwanda.


arkstorm banner

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.



The Graying of AIDS: Off the Wall

Students from the Illustration Department at Art Center College of Design created this exhibition that speaks to the topic of older adults and HIV/AIDS awareness.


USGS Wildfire Studio

In an ongoing partnership with USGS, this Graphic Design studio was asked to design a visual identity and branding strategy for the Wildfire Scenario, a set of scientific data foretelling the natural disaster that is both devastating and a reality of life in Southern California.


Non-Profit Photography Studio

This studio highlights the collaboration between Photography + Imaging students and several local Pasadena organizations to explore and support the important work of our neighbors in the non-profit sector.


golden church

Case Studies for Social Change

This trans-disciplinary seminar examined the history, aesthetics and underpinning of community-based art and design practices through a collaboration anchored in the historic Watts Art Towers district of Los Angeles.



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



PCI 50th Anniversary Campaign

Celebrating their 50th anniversary, students help promote the work of international development organization PCI through visual communication projects.



PCI Rebranding Project

The goal of this studio was to conceive and develop a multi-component branding and communication strategy for the international NGO, Project Concern International.



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.



World Health Day 2010: Urbanism and Healthy Living

The World Health Day 2010 campaign envisions a healthier city now and into the future. Weaving together complex urban issues, students address key health factors affecting megacities across the Americas.



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.



FamilyPlz! Cancer Prevention Campaign

Mixed Media Campaign to Promote Colorectal Cancer Screening in collaboration with the Mayo Clinic/Innovation Unit and The American Cancer Society.



The Organization of American States Centennial Rebranding Project

The goal of this transdisciplinary studio was to conceive and develop a multi-component branding and communications strategy for the OAS Centennial in 2010.



Vato Verde

The world is over-armed and peace is under-funded. – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s opening address to the sixty-second Annual DPI/NGO Conference: “For Peace and Development: Disarm Now!” in Mexico City, September 9, 2009



Es Tiempo

A multi-faceted campaign raising awareness and support for prevention and treatment of cervical cancer, the Es Tiempo campaign was produced in partnership with the University of Southern California Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, Keck School of Medicine and the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.



UNFPA: A Campaign Celebrating Population and Development ICPD+15

With half of the world’s population under the age of 25, the focus of the class was to generate a call to action that would be youth-oriented and capture fresh perspectives about the interconnectedness between population dynamics, reproductive health rights, and economic and social development.



The Ark Project: A Winter Storm Campaign for USGS

In a culture of alarm fatigue, how to find innovative ways to provoke readiness without causing fear or panic? How to turn preparedness for a natural disaster of large scale into a broad-based cultural value?



The Organization of American States: Rebranding Project

Development of a logo and identity system for the Organization of American States (OAS) and the OAS’ Art Museum of the Americas for internal and external communications.



Research for a Gender-Based Violence Prevention Campaign in the Asia-Pacific Region

A study in branding solutions for materials to support a positive role modeling campaign to counteract gender-based violence in the Asia-Pacific region



Designing Water’s Future

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



The Los Angeles Earthquake: Get Ready

A multimedia public safety campaign and sourcebook initiative to increase earthquake preparedness and recovery strategies throughout the Greater Los Angeles area.


human rights feat image

Human Rights Public Education Exhibition

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


AMD feat image

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) Open Architecture Challenge: Namaste – A Telemedicine Center in Nepal

The design of a sustainable, low-cost health and technology facility in Nepal.



UNICEF: Sharing Digital Stories in the Developing World

Providing platforms that enable youth journalist groups to connect about critical world issues and interact with other youth via easily accessible technology.



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.



Flintridge Operating Foundation: Gang Violence Prevention Campaign

Communication strategies to promote positive messages and empower disenfranchised youth.



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”.



United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Safe Motherhood Initiative

In continuing partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Designmatters facilitated a Summer 2007 studio to develop an integrated multi-media awareness campaign in support of the 2007 Safe Motherhood Initiative.



The Cihuame Project

In April 2007, the Designmatters initiative at Art Center College of Design and CENTRO de diseño, cine y televisión in Mexico City began a project collaboration to document the work of nonprofit group Cihuame based in Veracruz, Mexico.



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.




Spearheaded by the Graphic Design Department, in collaboration with the Designmatters initiative in its vital advocacy role for promoting Art Center as an educational laboratory for best practices and social engagement, the YouOrleans branding initiative represents a significant commitment from our creative community to contribute to the moral and physical reconstruction of New Orleans. Conceived by Graphic Design chair Nik Hafermaas as one of the 2006 AIGA Aspen Design Summit challenges chosen for implementation, the YouOrleans design brief calls for the development of a comprehensive visual identity and branding strategy to support the Katrina Furniture Project.




A Collaboration between Designmatters, The Agency @ Art Center and The Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health.



Mpala: Solar Camel Clinic Innovation

An ongoing multi-level project which begin with Designmatters partnership with the Community Health Africa Trust (CHAT) in Kenya, to develop an innovative design project to improve health services for remote Kenyan communities.



American Cancer Society Awareness Campaign

In an effort to raise awareness of cancer in 18-24 year olds, the American Cancer society worked alongside Art Center in the Summer 2006 to create a hip and effective messaging campaign aimed at young people. Teaming with The Agency—a small group of advertising students who take on real world clients—four campaigns were designed to speak to young people with little exposure to the dangers of cancer.



International Organization for Migration (IOM) Animated PSA Project

Animated Public Service Announcements developed for the International Organization for Migration and the AIDS Institute addressing HIV/AIDS, Spring 2006



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.



Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) PSA’s

In an effort to combat the powerful influence of alcohol advertisements that appeal to under-aged drinkers throughout the Americas, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) commissioned Art Center to design and develop anti-drinking Public Service Announcements (PSAs) and an accompanying print campaign for international distribution. Art Center Advertising and Film students worked together to design an effective communication strategy. With the overall objective of targeting youth, the campaign is a wake-up call about the profound societal impact of under-aged drinking and alcohol consumption in general.



The Driven Environment in 2015

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



Millennium Development Goals PSA Commissions

At the center of the partnership between Art Center and the UN is a commitment to the global agenda for development represented by the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, also known as the MDGs, or a blueprint for building a better world by 2015. These eight markers for development — cutting extreme poverty in half, putting all children into primary school, and stemming the spread of infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, among others, have become widely accepted benchmarks for progress that can be met if all involved “break with business as usual,” and dramatically accelerate high-impact initiatives. In order to achieve measurable outcomes, effective advocacy and potent visual campaigns are important to increase the global awareness of the MDGs.



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.




Each year, the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) holds its 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, an influential campaign that calls for the elimination of all forms of violence against women. In 2004, UNIFEM joined forces with Art Center and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to produce a campaign addressing violence against women and the closely related spread of HIV/AIDS. The PSAs were produced by Art Center’s Film Department in three languages (English, Spanish and Portuguese) and distributed by PAHO to a large number of television and cable stations across Latin America, the Caribbean and the United States.



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.



American Red Cross PSA

Art Center College of Design film student Cody Heller, challenged with the idea of creating a public service announcement as a part of her studies, thought first of the American Red Cross.


Browse Projects by theme

Browse Projects by design discipline