“Designmatters allows us to look at the world as a classroom with an eye toward changing it for the better. We aspire to redefine and expand the role of the artist and designer into one who is a catalyst for social change and innovation.” Mariana Amatullo, Vice President, Designmatters Department
An engaged mode of art and design education that forms creative leaders, Designmatters provides the know-how and aspiration to shape the futures we truly desire for a more sustainable and equitable world.
Through research, advocacy and action, Designmatters engages, empowers and leads an ongoing exploration of art and design as a positive force in society.
Designmatters is integrated across all the educational departments at Art Center College of Design. Activities are organized at 3 key levels:
As an educational magnet and research division for the college, we conceive of projects for the curriculum, oversee the DM Concentration at the undergraduate level, and partner with Graduate Media Design Practices in the MDP/Field Track;
As an agent for social impact educational projects, we are a guarantor for implementation and assessment of projects led by students, faculty and alumni;
As an external relations center for strategic partnership building, we leverage art and design education as tool for positive change in the world.
As Art Center’s social impact department, Designmatters is where local, national and global issues are encountered head-on. Participants are in the world, with the world.
Values that are embedded into the department are filtered into the curriculum, programs and projects. These values represent the spirit of Designmatters, and consist of:
Commitment: We are dedicated to looking at, confronting, researching and addressing real-world issues, and we endeavor to innovate through art and design.
Relevance: We strive to be a model for relevancy in education. We open doors for organizations to engage with artists and designers and see them as key contributors to their mission.
Engagement: We look at the world as our classroom, with an eye toward changing it for the better. Our students engage in experiential learning, giving them an insider’s awareness of the challenges confronting communities around the block or around the world.
Collaboration: We view art and design as a space that invites collaboration with other disciplines, such as: development, science, business, engineering, and anthropology. It is in the intersection between distinct areas of inquiry that we often find the most opportunity for innovation.
Empathy: We believe that artists and designers can be uniquely compassionate as how they relate to the lives of others, and with that comes great responsibility.
Action-led outcomes: We see art and design students as having the gift of creativity and the skills to execute a vision, and when immersed in a real-world context, they can be empowered to become changemakers.
“Turning outward is key to the future of higher education in art and design. Designmatters provides the platform where that can happen.” Lorne M. Buchman, President, Art Center College of Design
At the environmental, social and economic levels, this pillar addresses global challenges by meeting the needs of the present without compromising the future.
With a focus on mobilizing decision-making and provoking change at the policy level, this pillar explores communication tactics and advocacy strategies.
Touching on health issues that impact global populations, this pillar creates the designs of environments, products, systems of delivery, and communication portals.
Using innovative, market-based approaches to create social and environmental impact, this pillar guides a new generation of innovators who want to do well by doing good.
If my department chair told me 2 years ago that by the time I graduate from Art Center, I will have conducted field research in Peru and India, studied and collaborated with MBAs in Singapore and worked at my dream company in San Francisco, I would never have believed him. Ironically, he actually did allude to such possibilities during my 4th term review and even in hindsight I’ll never know how he could have guessed so accurately. As an Environmental Design student with a Designmatters Concentration, I have been able to travel to the most curious corners of the world, meet and connect to amazing people and have learned more about myself than ever before.
By Frances Anderton
Aveson Charter Schools