ArtCenter College of Design | Pasadena, California | Learn to Create. Influence Change.

Connie Bakshi

Environmental Design

How and why did you choose Art Center?
Before enrolling at Art Center, I'd already obtained an undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering and was working as an operations manager for design and advertising firms. I had a long-standing love affair with architecture and industrial design so I opted to take a few environmental design classes through Art Center At Night during my spare time. There I was surprised and thrilled to discover a discipline in which my interests in design thinking, brand strategy, and spatial experience converged.

Describe your most gratifying collaboration with a faculty member or another student.
This past spring, I had the opportunity to compete in the Los Angeles Interior Architecture Committee (LAIAC) 21st Annual 1:2 Student Competition. I went into the industry-juried, one-day charette competition with John Clark, a fellow environmental designer, and it was an eye-opening experience on multiple levels. The challenge was to design "The Linear Gateway" by re-envisioning the 600-foot long tunnel beneath the rail lines at the Los Angeles Union Station. We were given seven hours to come up with a comprehensive presentation board as well as a built model. With that kind of time constraint under that kind of pressure, you learn a lot about yourself, your process, and your ability to function as part of a team.

Retrospectively, I was grateful to realize just how well the Art Center experience and curriculum prepared my team for the competition. In addition, we received a heart-warming amount of support and mentorship from our department prior to the event, specifically from department chair David Mocarski and faculty members Robert Hunt and Robert Ball. The whole experience reaffirmed that I had chosen the right school and the right program for my growth as a designer and that was a good feeling. It also didn't hurt that we won.

In what ways has Art Center helped you grow as an artist and designer?
For a lot of people, there's this prevalent notion that creative inspiration is sporadic and temperamental at best. But really, it arises from a process of perpetual observation, critical inquiry, and fearless experimentation. The Art Center experience has hammered this in, and I've found that it's something of a formula for cultivating one's intuition. Through my continued projects and work, I've learned that I can trust more and more in my ability to connect the dots that make up a viable design solution.

How do you hope to change the world through your work?
As designers, we often talk about the power of design and its ability to change the world. But at the core of it, what we really want is to connect with people at a very human level and to affect some level of impact whether it be practical, cultural, or emotional. For me, design is about telling a good story. And the best I can hope for is that the stories I tell can provoke people to rethink or reframe their perspective.

What do you do with your downtime in greater L.A.?
I I'm on this adventure kick as of late and I've been nosing my way into places and spaces that I can't get to by car. For a city whose ecology is comprised heavily of a freeway system, I think its beauty lies in the paths less traveled. Some gems I've found include a neatly typed manifesto hidden under a bridge, a late-night shopping cart convention, and a family of nomadic chickens.

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