Entries in Art Center (8)


In Support of Dedicated Research Courses for Undergrad Programs

Elizabeth Sanders and I have just finished an article for the upcoming issue of Innovation in support of dedicated research-only courses in undergraduate design education (please see the final draft of the article in the "papers" section of this site). As far as we have found, OSU and Art Center are the only programs presently offering such courses at the undergrad level. Many graduate programs have dedicated research courses but it seems rare for undergrad programs, and Liz and I both regret this. We would appreciate very much hearing from design students and faculty who are presently taking or teaching research-only courses in an undergrad design program. We'd love to compare notes.

Image: Analysis exercises by Jocelyn Ma, Siwei Wang, and Susan Zhang for my ID Research course, Summer 2014


The Mastery of Color Theory

Mentioning Richard Keyes in the previous post reminded me of his excellent DVD on color theory. He is the keeper of the legacy in this subject, standing on the shoulders of the giants who taught at Art Center in the old days. He is elegant and precise in his teaching, and I am thrilled that Scott Robertson has added this DVD to the collection at Gnomon. I hope it's the first of a series.


Formula "E" Racing

One of our regular events in Grad ID is the "Formula E" race, where the students build and race a radio-controlled car that is powered by a rubber band (the E stands for elastic). This is a fun exercise in hands-on mechanical problem solving. We make it even more interesting by asking them to create flyers and short video stories about the race. These are done in my colleague Richard Keyes' class and the results are sometimes quite entertaining. 

Above is last term's crew's advertising campaign. Below is a short film created by Uri Tzarnotzky and Koo Ho Shin for the 2009 competition. 



Art Center Futures

brought to you by Livescribe

Last night Art Center College of Design's new president, Lorne Buchman, started a conversation within our community about future directions with a few guests from outside the college. This is a Livescribe recording of the panel discussion, delivered to a packed house of students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Panelists were Katherine Hayles, David Rice, Stephen Oliver, and Andrew Blauvelt.

The discussion was webcast, but I'm not sure they saved it in a form that is still accessible, so I'm posting the session here for those who are interested. For those of you unfamiliar with Livescribe recordings, the audio is linked to the written notes, and you can click anywhere on the notes to hear what was being said at that time. It's a useful way to record a session as long as this one, because you can skip around.

Today we will have a day-long brainstorm on a number of topics: students & student life (life?! what life!! you mean there's life outside of Art Center??!! ;-)), curriculum & pedagogy, outside partnerships, governance & community (promises to be a hot topic, given the excitement of the past couple of years), and future trends & global context. If I have time (we start the term next Monday) I'll report on that as well.


A Peek Behind the Curtain

I've struggled for years to accurately convey the complex picture of industrial design at Art Center—the reality behind the hype. We are sometimes viewed as shallow stylists, mostly because what people see of our work are slick photos of final models. Rarely do people get to see the process that we employ, and the thinking behind it. This isn't limited to us, by the way—if you examine what gets published about industrial design, you'll see an endless parade of glamour shots of the latest shiny thing, and the criteria used for the curation of this work seem to revolve around the hot image it will create in a magazine. This shallow picture isn't helped by the fact that we at Art Center are often running at such a pace that we—students or faculty—rarely get out to share with others what we're up to.

Industrial designers complain that people misunderstand what we do. Part of the blame lies with us. We struggle to appear in publications that limit the view of our work to the single glam shot. If we're not careful, we might wind up like those architects who seem to design a building to create a photo op for the cover of Architectural Record—not to provide an optimal experience for the people who will inhabit the space.

For years I've admired the way that IDEO crafts their own story. Through artful self-publication as well as controlled use of traditional publishing outlets, they have created the image that we have of them. They are not known for any particular design; they are known for their innovation process, as they should be.

What's a designer to do who doesn't have the firepower of a major office as backup? Check out the blog of industrial design student Stéphane Angoulvant. In January 09, at the beginning of his second term (or the second half of his freshman year), he decided to start a record of his work at Art Center, project by project, course by course. 

We get to look over his shoulder as he tackles each assignment, understanding not only the process he uses to solve the problem but also the rationale for the assignment in the first place, how it fits into the stream of coursework that makes up the curriculum. He does this without undue self-aggrandizement but with quiet confidence and clear-eyed excitement. As he says in his kickoff post, "Just want to keep it simple here and post what I can from my ongoing design projects." Following his posts I see the world that we have created for our students from the student's-eye view, and at the same time get to revisit the fun of my own experience learning the design process so long ago.

Following a notice on Coroflot earlier this year, the blog has acquired an enthusiastic following of fellow students and admirers. By the time Stéphane reaches his 8th term, he will have already created that new requirement for career success—a solid web presence.

I find this profound in so many ways—seeing the world of the Other from their point of view (which is what my research methodology is all about), seeing the organic start of a designer building what will eventually become his career and his reputation, and perhaps most interesting, seeing how young designers gather together in communities of shared interest. IDSA, and all who purport to be gathering places for designers, take special note of this last one.