Where art & design education meets social change
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Designmatters Newsletter
Fall 2019

In This Issue
1. Designmatters Executive Director  2. Census Project 2020
3. Project Updates  4. Designmatters in the Field
5. Research & Practice  6. Storytelling 7. Student & Alumni Updates 8. Announcements

A Message from Designmatters Executive Director

I was honored this July to be appointed Executive Director of Designmatters. It is not an exaggeration to say that working at the intersection of design, art, education and social innovation is my dream job, a culmination of my interests and passions built over the course of my life. When I met Mariana Amatullo in 2013, I knew I wanted to build my career around advocating for the power of art, and the important role it plays in our society. Designmatters’ body of work inspired me, and added new dimensions to my concept of the impact that designers and artists can have. During the past 6 years working on the Designmatters team, and especially during my tenure as Interim Executive Director, I have been in a continual state of amazement at the creativity and passion of students, the knowledge and leadership of faculty, and the expertise and collaborative spirit of partners. I’m excited to be a part of the next chapter of Designmatters, as we partner closely with our colleagues at ArtCenter to expand programming and build new projects and partnerships on topics important to students, artists and designers who are attuned to the world around them, keenly aware of the challenges and seeking opportunities to make an impact through their work.

Jennifer May
Executive Director, Designmatters

Information Design: Census 2020


This Fall, Graphic Design faculty Allison Goodman partnered with Designmatters for her Information Design class, embedding the topic of the upcoming Census with a special focus on traditionally hard to count populations. Students heard about the local impact of the Census and the City’s initiatives to make sure everyone counts for 2020 from Maria Garcia, Director of the Census2020 Initiative for Mayor Garcetti’s Office of Budget and Innovation. And Mara Abrams, Founder & Co-Director of the Census Open Innovation Labs for the U.S. Census Bureau gave an overview of the importance of the census from a federal level, and showed the students some of the unique, creative and community-based strategies the Open Innovation Lab is using to reach traditionally hard to count populations. Students will present their final projects in December, and many projects and other ArtCenter student work focusing on the Census will be exhibited in the art gallery in Los Angeles City Hall in late March, right before the Census count starts in April!


Project Update


COANIQUEM: Safe Niños III The Development Seminar

Designmatters and COANIQUEM, a nonprofit pediatric burn clinic based in Chile, first partnered in 2013, where students created Santi the Cat, a mascot for burn prevention for COANIQUEM. The partnership continued to build with students building the world of Santi and redesigning COANIQUEM’s main campus in Santiago in 2016, and developing systems and designs for COANIQUEM’s new chain of charity thrift stores in 2017. For our fourth project, students are creating new narrative environments for COANIQUEM’s two satellite campuses in Antofogasta and Puerto Montt. After the full studio this summer, a small team of six students, led by faculty Stella Hernandez, are taking the projects forward in this Fall’s Development Seminar, with plans to fabricate and test/install work in Chile in Spring 2020.

“It is really special to have this type of long-term partnership where the work of the students can build with each project. This group of students is so dedicated, and COANIQUEM is such a supportive partner that really models the collaboration and holistic approach we seek to achieve in the classroom. I’m excited to once again see the impact of the students’ designs!”

- Stella Hernandez, Faculty, ArtCenter College of Design



Designmatters in the Field


Brandmatters: Swipe Out Hunger

The Brandmatters class partnered again with a social justice organization this Fall term. Swipe Out Hunger is the leading non-profit addressing hunger among college students through innovative and common-sense solutions and partnerships. They are creating a movement and a community of young changemakers, a perfect match for our class! I love the activist attitude of this brand and its bold and ambitious agenda.

“Visiting Swipe Out Hunger lent me some new perspective on the potential we have as Designmatters minor students. I appreciated the opportunity to meet professionals in the field of social impact, actively working to make a difference and bringing what started on one college campus to colleges across the country. It really serves as a reminder that no one of us is too small to start creating change at ArtCenter and extending our reach even further once we graduate.”

- Nico Abbasi, Illustration + DM Minor

Read the full blog post written by Designmatters Faculty Director Sherry Hoffman here.


Research & Practice

Accessibility Design Workshop with Josh Halstead

A few weeks ago, we welcomed Designmatters’ Resident Josh Halstead (BFA '12 Graphic Design), a design leader and disability advocate, to spend the week on campus sharing his thoughts and expertise with the ArtCenter community. As part of his residency, Josh, along with two representatives from Google – visual designer, Aldis Ozolins (BFA '12 Graphic Design), and interaction designer, Dru Bramlett,— lead a workshop around accessibility and design. There was a lot of interest around the workshop, and with limited space, I was grateful to have the opportunity to shadow the day-long studio.

Many of the general assumptions about accessible design (most of which are untrue) keep designers from confronting accessibility issues. Consequently, these statements (i.e., accessible spaces are expensive to create, benefit a small percentage of the population, only require the bare minimum, can be tacked-on at the end, etc.) keep designers from forming successful solutions. Why are these myths still commonplace, especially in design? Some designers are not compliant or treat accessibility as something to be checked off at the end of the design process; this is a problem in the industry...

Read full blog post written by Designmatters Dept. Assistant Schuyler Walter here.


Graphic design + Designmatters Minor , Blossom Liu, was awarded the prestigious Beatrice Warde Scholarship for type design, a competitive scholarship awarded to a female undergraduate design student for tuition for her senior year.  
Designmatters Faculty Director, Sherry Hoffman’s March Studio is the 2019 Winner of Westside Urban Forum Design Merit Award for the project Untitled No. 1— a nature-based preschool in Santa Monica.
Designmatters Executive Director, Jennifer May and former Vice President, Mariana Amatullo along with Bryan Boyer and Andrew Shea are named as recipients of Sappi’s 2019 Ideas that Matter grant program for their publication, Global LEAP: New Frontiers in Design for Social Innovation.

Product Design + Designmatters Minor student, Yanqi Li talks about her Summer internship experience with Karten Design.


COANIQUEM: Safe Niños Short Film

The Safe Niños short documentary captures the excitement of the students’ experience in Chile. Interviews with COANIQUEM staff, patients and family members explain the philosophy and community of care that is experienced daily at the facilities. The students’ bonding experience — to one another, the studio challenge, as well as to the natural landscape and cultural traditions they encountered — is also captured.

Directed and Edited by David Herrera

View Video →



Alumnus, Charlie Hodges (BS 18 Product Design) has taken a position in JPL's Design Studio, creating interactive installations and artefacts to first educate the public about a new satellite launching in two years, and second, motivate the engineering team to stay on time and inspired.

Later this month, Alumna, Sarah Ellis (BFA 18 Photography & Imaging) will be opening her new studio space, Fishbowl Creative. The studio caters to creatives of all types, with a shooting stage for video and photo production as well as a working area for anyone who needs a space to create.

Illustration student, Abigail Ohab recently completed a botanical artist internship. During her internship she was tasked to create moss arrangements for Kelley Anderson. The work combines artistic vision with the natural world. She also received first hand knowledge on how to create a sustainable business model from an entrepreneurial perspective.

Alumnus, Nicholas Jayanty (BS 18 Interaction Design) was recently selected as a presenter at Austin Design Week for a workshop experience centered around his work bringing inclusivity into the workplace from a bottoms up approach focusing on one team at a time using Design Thinking as a tool for the Designer as Ally.


Congratulations to Jennifer May on her promotion to Executive Director of Designmatters. We celebrate the work she has accomplished as Interim Executive Director, and we are grateful for her expertise and dedication as she continues to lead Designmatters.

We are excited to announce Steven Butler’s promotion to Creative Operations Manager for the Center of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Designmatters. Steven has shaped and upheld the Designmatters’ voice and will continue to direct the branding and marketing of diversity, equity, inclusion, and social innovation programs and initiatives.

Congratulations to Maggie Hendrie for her new position as chair of graduate Media Design Practices department. Maggie has been chair of undergraduate Interaction Design department since 2012 and will now oversee both academic programs.

On October 17th at 10:17am, ArtCenter participated in the Great ShakeOut—an earthquake drill that gives our ArtCenter community an opportunity to practice how to be safer during earthquakes: "Drop, Cover and Hold On."  


Sophia Delara (Advertising)

Zachary Eisenberg (Environmental Design)

Do Hyun Kim (Environmental Design)

Andres Zavala (Environmental Design)

Chufan Huang (Graphic Design)

Wenyuan Xu (Interaction Design)

Arotin Hartounian (Product Design)

In November, Designmatters and ArtCenter Partnerships hosted a DesignStorm with the Aquarium of the Pacific and its partners (The City of Long Beach, The Nature Conservancy, and US Geological Survey). Along with faculty, Heidrun Mumper-Drumm, Gerardo Herrera, and Mariana Prieto, this 3-day workshop was the first part of a collaboration with Aquarium of the Pacific to address the anticipated consequences of seal level rise on the Alamitos Peninsula in Long Beach, CA.


Designmatters Studios:

LGBTQIA+ Cancer Awareness Campaign with Cedars Sinai Center for Health Equity Research

Designing Democracy: Humanities & Sciences Research TDS

Innovating Assistive Devices for People with Disabilities: Product Design Studio funded by VentureWell

Designmatters Programming:

Designmatters Residency with George Aye of Greater Good Studio

Census2020 Create-a-Thon with the Open Innovation Team of the U.S. Census Bureau

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