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

Sustainable Development

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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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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.


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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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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.


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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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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.


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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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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.


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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.



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.



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.



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 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.


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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.



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.




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.



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.



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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