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

Social Entrepreneurship

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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.


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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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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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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.


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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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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.


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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.


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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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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.


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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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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.



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.



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”.




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.



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.



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.


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