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In 2007, Peter and Merle Mullin (seated) challenged students to imagine a body for an unfinished Bugatti Type 64 Coupe chassis. Design studio participants: (L>R) Richard Pietruska (instructor), George Yoo, Geoffrey Richmond, Garrison Gao, Theandrew Clayborn, James Brown, Hans Jahng, Alex Marzo, Mario Bekas, John Narciso and Marek Djordjevic (instructor).

$15 Million Gift From Peter and Merle Mullin Will Enhance Industrial Design Programs

Industrial and transportation design at Art Center College of Design received an unprecedented boost with a visionary gift from Southern California philanthropists and classic car enthusiasts Peter and Merle Mullin. Their $15 million commitment, the College’s largest gift ever, will help fund construction of a new building, fuel campus growth and support future creative leaders.

The couple’s gift, says Peter Mullin, an Art Center Trustee, is “a chance to make a difference. I’ve been luckier than I ever expected in business and in my life. Los Angeles has been a great place for me. I was born here, stayed here, and I don’t have any intention of leaving. So our gift is also an expression of gratitude to a great city that provided me with great opportunity.”

He notes the robust concentration of talent in Southern California, where every major carmaker in the world has established a design studio. “The fact that all of these studios are populated by graduates of Art Center is impressive and really means that Art Center is a jewel,” he says, “a worldwide center of elegance and excellence.”

“We are extremely grateful to Peter and Merle for their extraordinary philanthropic investment,” says Art Center President Lorne M. Buchman. “Their gift will make a transformational impact at the College for generations to come.”

How does an investment of such magnitude improve an industrial design program already renowned for graduating many of the world’s top designers?

At a time when industrial design produced by students and faculty has become significantly constrained at Hillside Campus, the Mullins’ gift will create new space for the College’s undergraduate programs in Environmental, Product and Transportation Design, and graduate programs in Environmental, Industrial and Transportation Design. The new building, currently in the planning stages, is a vital element of the South Campus expansion, and the community is engaged in robust discussion about the kinds of cutting-edge resources and new laboratories that will be built.

All of which, says Buchman, will reinvigorate the College educational experience and reinforce Art Center’s place at the cutting edge of design education.

“Expanding spaces for learning is a central element of the College’s Strategic Plan,” says Board Chairman Robert C. Davidson, Jr. “This generous gift from Peter and Merle will help make our dreams a reality.”

Peter Mullin is Chairman of M Financial, a national reinsurance company, and Chairman Emeritus of MullinTBG, the nation’s largest independent executive benefits services and solutions provider. He co-founded the Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard, Calif., with his wife Merle, and he serves as Chairman of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.

The Mullin Automotive Museum pays homage to the machine age and the art deco era; its renowned collection features historic French automobiles from the Bugatti to the Voisin, as well as decorative arts from the 1920s and 1930s.

At the Petersen Automotive Museum, a permanent exhibition is dedicated to Art Center’s legacy of leadership in transportation design education.

The Mullins have funded scholarships for Art Center students since 2005, including the Peter W. Mullin Endowed Scholarship, which provides financial support to students majoring in Transportation Design.

Fourth-term Transportation Design student Christian Christensen del Rello received the Mullin Scholarship in Summer 2013. Along with financial assistance, the scholarship provided Christensen del Rello with an invaluable sense of affirmation. “Learning that there is someone who believes in my effort was one of the most motivating experiences I have had at Art Center,” he says.

“I’m fascinated with the brain, how art students think, their commitment, their curiosity—how they explore an idea, put it on paper and then turn it into a real object. That’s what Art Center students do so well,” says Peter Mullin. “Having an opportunity to help with the development of this new building dedicated to industrial design and knowing the tremendous impact it will have on the future of transportation design is an exciting project for both me and Merle.”

Fletcher Jones Foundation Supports 870 Building Renovation, Neighborhood Revitalization

Recently acquired by Art Center, the former U.S. Postal Service (USPS) mail sorting facility at 870 South Raymond Avenue is undergoing extensive renovations as the College prepares for the next phase of its South Campus expansion. With the help of lead funding from the Fletcher Jones Foundation, the 36,000-square-foot, two-story building will undergo a dramatic makeover, from a bleak, vacant property behind barbed wire to a vibrant, inviting new venue. When the transformation is complete, the 870 Building will provide new classrooms, studios, a print shop, exhibition spaces and a sculpture yard serving the needs of the College’s undergraduate Illustration and Fine Art Departments.

“With curricular innovation in both programs, student workspace needs have changed and dedicated spaces for making and viewing artworks are essential,” says Provost Fred Fehlau FINE 79, GART 88, whose experience as both an Illustration student and a Fine Art major deepens his excitement about the renovation project. “This facility will build synergy between the programs and significantly increase classroom space, while more than doubling the number of studios and computer workstations available to students. It also provides a unique opportunity for us to visualize the future of our community and to prepare for further growth.”

Acquisition of the 870 Building was made possible in large part by three seven-figure alumni gifts—from Richard Law MS INDU 58, Steven Rieman PROD 74 and his wife, Ruth, and Bruce Heavin ILLU 93 and his wife, former Art Center faculty member Lynda Weinman—followed by a $1 million grant from the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation.

The $3.5 million renovation, currently underway, is supported by a $500,000 grant from the Pasadena-based Fletcher Jones Foundation, continuing a 25-year relationship with Art Center, whose scholarship activities and capital campaigns it has supported since 1988. The Foundation, created in 1969 from the personal estate of mathematician and computer science pioneer Fletcher Roseberry Jones, focuses its grantmaking on private higher educational institutions, especially in California.

“We are profoundly grateful to the Fletcher Jones Foundation, along with our alumni and donors, for their enormous generosity,” says Fehlau. “Creating new spaces for learning is a central element of the College’s Strategic Plan, and doing it well takes communitywide participation. Through our shared governance model, faculty in particular have played a guiding role in the 870 Building design process.”

Los Angeles-based Darin Johnstone Architecture has worked closely with the Illustration and Fine Art Departments, and with the Facilities and Technology Committee comprised of students, faculty and staff, to design spaces and amenities that will best serve students’ needs. In addition to a significant increase in square footage, portions of which will be programmed by students, both studio departments will gain a much more visible public presence in Pasadena, along the city’s Innovation Corridor. Move-in is scheduled to begin in early 2014.

Editor’s note: Find out how you can support the next phase of Art Center’s expansion. Call Maya Frederickson at 626 396-2455.

Designmatters Partners With LAUSD to Make Guns “Uncool”

Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the nation’s second largest public school system, has joined forces with Art Center’s renowned social impact department, Designmatters, to implement Designmatters’ cutting-edge health curriculum, Where’s Daryl? Designed to get teens and tweens talking about gun violence in an effort to prevent it, the middle school classroom toolkit is part of Uncool: The Anti-Gun Violence Project, an award-winning program supported by the Nathan Cummings Foundation and dedicated to the memory of Norman Schureman prod 85, a beloved Art Center instructor who lost his life to gun violence in 2010.

Four Art Center undergraduates—Thomas Banuelos, Damon Casarez, Alex Cheng and Rhombi Sandoval— created the core concept for Where’s Daryl? as part of a Designmatters studio led by faculty members Allison Goodman GRPK 95 (Graphic Design) and Elena Salij (Advertising). Alumna Maria Moon GMDP 08 expanded that concept for classroom use, winning a 2012 grant from Sappi’s Ideas that Matter, a program that helps designers create print projects for charitable causes. Working closely with Designmatters Director Elisa Ruffino and with edu-cation experts including curricular specialists at LAUSD, Moon designed a comprehensive curriculum that meets California state health teaching standards while keeping kids engaged with the material.

It’s a great example, says Ruffino, of Art Center students and alumni “addressing public policy through design strategies.”

Eight stand-alone lesson plans revolve around “Daryl,” a fictional middle schooler who thinks firearms are cool—till his own life is derailed after he gets involved with guns. The toolkit contains materials like posters and preprinted worksheets and fact sheets (no photocopying required), as well as Where’s Daryl? stickers and buttons that students wear, teachers say, like a badge of honor. Lessons center on interactive storytelling through discussion, role playing and creating collages. The emphasis is on understanding personal influences, choices and consequences.

The curriculum also comes with a series of short videos and a life-sized, foam-board cutout of Daryl, who becomes something of a classroom mascot. Cutout Daryl also stars in the videos in which he is conspicuously, sometimes humorously, missing out on his own life when he faces criminal charges. The videos’ almost slapstick portrayal of his friends’ lives without him is at once funny and sad: Cutout Daryl is repeatedly knocked down by a basketball when his buddies try to involve him in a game of pick-up, and his girlfriend experiences an awkward kiss with his foam-board substitute.

Humor aside, at-risk students fully grasp the seriousness of Daryl’s entanglement with guns. So far eight LAUSD schools have used the materials, reaching more than a thousand students, and preliminary results are impressive.

“A formal survey found that a majority of participating teachers had never addressed issues of gun violence in their classrooms,” says Ruffino, “and an even larger majority reported that the Where’s Daryl? curriculum was an effective tool in doing just that. The survey also showed that students’ knowledge and attitudes about guns and gun safety improved significantly after they completed the curriculum.”

“This campaign empowers students to foster their own actionable language, identify their trusted network of support and discover their own voice with regard to gun violence,” says Moon, who now works at Samsung Design America.

“Designers shape human experience within a broader scope than ever before,” notes co-founder and Vice President of Designmatters Mariana Amatullo. “And they are increasingly recognized for their capacity to innovate in an uncertain world. Educational initiatives that come out of the Designmatters program bridge the public and private sectors to create new forms of practice.”

Designmatters is now exploring possibilities for expanding the successful LAUSD pilot program.

Where's Daryl?

Art Center’s team in the 2013 ImagiNations Design Competition won First Place and Best in Show with their project “Disney’s Ukaipo Resort at Auckland, New Zealand.” (L>R): Sophie McNally, Angela Li, Jennifer Cho and Sunmin Inn. (Photo © Disney. Photographer: Gary Krueger)

Illustration Majors Take Top Prize in Disney Imagineering Competition

If you’ve always thought Imagineers—the creative elite who design immersive entertainment experiences for Disney theme parks and resorts—needed engineering or movie industry backgrounds, think again. In 2013, the annual ImagiNations Design Competition, established in 1992, was swept by a team of four Art Center Illustration majors: upper-term students Jennifer Cho and Sunmin Inn, and recent graduates Angela Li ILLU 12 and Sophie McNally ILLU 12. All on the Entertainment Arts track and already good friends, they collaborated on the project that won First Place and Best in Show in this prestigious competition designed to promote diversity and inspire curiosity about cities around the world.

The challenge was to identify one city anywhere on the globe and dream up an entertaining, recreational experience for its citizens and visitors. Judges looked for submissions that incorporated a great story into the design. The Art Center team drew its inspiration from the majestic Agathis australis, or kauri, a tree endemic to New Zealand that can grow to 150 feet tall and more than 50 feet in girth. Once plentiful, this “conservation-dependent” species now grows mainly in remote stands that proved inaccessible to loggers during a timber-industry surge in the early 20th century. The experience the team envisioned put visitors at the top of a kauri, where they would enjoy views of Auckland as well as appreciate the unique place of these ancient trees in New Zealand’s history and culture.

The team named the resort Ukaipo, a Maori word that describes nourishing or nurturing.

“The location was the key in this competition,” explains Cho. “None of us had ever visited Auckland, but we all want to go there! When we picked New Zealand, everything fell into place. It’s culturally rich and extremely environmentally conscious, and I think those factors took our project from being a cool resort concept with a fun back story, to being something really meaningful.” Li imagines Auckland to be “a place that brings many different people together, not just from all over the world, but locally, too.”

The students describe their process as a soup-to-nuts collaboration. The hardest part, they agree, was not determining what to include but rather figuring out what was best left out of their scheme. “We all had to listen to each other’s opinions,” says Cho, remembering certain sacrifices or compromises along the way. “I really feel we applied the term ‘collaboration’ to the fullest.”

The biggest eye-opener during the competition? “How close you can become with your competitors,” says Cho. “That was really unexpected and special.” Indeed, some of the toughest competition came from within: Art Center Entertainment Design major Jane Liu joined a team of Carnegie Mellon students, and their entry, an interactive boat ride they titled Legenda Emas at Jakarta, Indonesia, won second place in the stringent judging.

All the ImagiNations finalists were awarded a week of presentations and networking behind the scenes at Walt Disney Imagineering, where they met talent from other schools as well as a
number of Art Center alumni who have became accomplished Imagineers.

The four women on the winning team went on to land summer internships at Walt Disney Imagineering, and Li says she now aspires to work in the entertainment field as a concept designer.

Grad ID Student Sails to Victory as IDEA Gold Medalist

Since its inception in 1965, the Indus-trial Designers Society of America (IDSA) has recognized “positive impact” in design. In 22 years of competition, Art Center students have taken 70 medals in IDSA’s highly competitive International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA), and last year Art Center won the most IDEAs of any competing college.

When IDSA announced this year’s IDEA winners in July, they included— among Art Center’s eight finalists in the 2013 competition—three medal winners. Graduate Industrial Design student Nina Viggi took home a gold medal for her One Degree High Performance Dinghy Shoe, designed for competitive sailing. Product Design students also earned medals: Marc Dubui the silver for a hard-hat suspension system he calls Oblikk, which protects the wearer from lateral and rotational impact; and Shingo Mamiya the bronze for A Better Working Environment for Certified Nursing Assistants, a chair equipped with a built-in system that provides a safer, more efficient way to bathe elderly or infirm clients, as well as dispose of their waste.

Viggi, who has 10 years under her belt competing in high-performance fleets around the world, is intimately familiar with the sport. She recognized that the more traditional products created for the elite sailing market had not kept up with the sport’s evolution and growing popularity, as events like the America’s Cup generate “aspirational associations” in mainstream markets. As the sport transitions from a lifestyle brand to an outdoors brand, Viggi says, the industry remains behind the curve when it comes to thinking about equipment and performance. “More aerodynamic apparel could only be found in more accessible sports like surfing and windsurfing. Brands have been trying to chase sailors’ expectations but always fall short.”

Art Center’s rigorous, transdisciplinary Grad ID degree program required that Viggi prove her ability to forecast a product’s growth opportunities over the next five to 10 years. “Never once,” she remembers, “was I juggling just product design without being reminded of manufacturing constraints, sourcing materials and developing a brand strategy.”

The sleek One Degree shoe is light, flexible and equipped to drain efficiently without sacrificing vital thermal capability. The neoprene lining is replaceable, allowing for a longer-lasting shoe with easily interchangeable parts, versus the usual fast-deteriorating models that can’t be disassembled or repaired. Having worn out her share of sailing equipment, Viggi has the distinct advantage of knowing firsthand how desirable her product will be in today’s outdoors market.

Innovation in sustainability is a hallmark of the IDEA challenge. Recognition from IDSA has validated Viggi’s instincts, though it took one of her mentors, Grad ID faculty member Katherine Bennett GIDP 09, to convince her to submit the design. “The IDEA awards program continues to be an effective witness to the state of industrial design and design education today,” says Bennett. “The process of articulating their designs for a worldwide audience gives practitioners and students a forum for important causes we want to address.”

Art Center Trustees Linda A. Hill and Greg Silverman.

New Trustees Bring Business and Entertainment Industry Expertise to Art Center

Art Center’s two newest Trustees, Linda A. Hill and Greg Silverman, work in different worlds but share a passionate commitment to a “learning-by-doing” education model that prepares students for careers in which leadership, innovation and collaboration will be keys to success.

Linda A. Hill is the Wallace Brett Donham Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, as well as a best-selling author and expert on leadership development. Her latest book, forthcoming in 2014 from Harvard Business Review Press, is Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation.

In 2011 Hill was named by Thinkers50 as one of the top management thinkers in the world. She holds a Ph.D. in behavioral sciences and an M.A. in educational psychology, both from the University of Chicago, and has worked as a consultant to major corporations including General Electric, IBM, MasterCard, Mitsubishi, Baxter, National Bank of Kuwait and Reed Elsevier.

Hill first learned about Art Center in her research on innovation leadership. For Collective Genius she interviewed renowned designer and Art Center Trustee Kit Hinrichs ADVT 63.

“Innovation is the competitive engine in our global economy,” says Hill, “and design thinking is at the heart of the innovative process. So business leaders need to become design thinkers and know how to build organizations where discovery-driven learning and integrative problem-solving can happen. I am eager to learn from masters—like those at Art Center—about how you do that and help others learn how to do it as well.” Greg Silverman is President, Creative Development and Worldwide Production, Warner Bros. Pictures, a recognized industry leader at the global box office. In this role, he has full oversight of Warner Bros. Pictures’ development activities, global production and budget. The longtime production executive holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from Stanford University.

Silverman recently spoke to The Hollywood Reporter in conjunction with the publication’s annual ranking that lists Art Center among the top film schools nationally. He said of Art Center: “There’s an intense visual aesthetic. The students’ work shows how design can be central to all thinking processes.”

In the same article, The Hollywood Reporter notes that in the movie business, where competitiveness is the rule, “Art Center emphasizes compassion and teamwork” and “distinguishes itself with faculty who are all industry professionals.”

“We proudly welcome Linda and Greg to the Board of Trustees,” says Board Chair Robert C. Davidson, Jr. “We look forward to working with them to build on one of Art Center’s great strengths, our vital partnerships with business and industry.”



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