March 14, 2023

Nissan Design America collaborates with ArtCenter College of Design to celebrate Nissan's centennial in 2033

ArtCenter students will use collaborative 3D design technology to conceptualize an iconic Nissan vehicle for the anniversary  

This spring, Nissan Design America (NDA), located in San Diego, California, is working with Pasadena-based ArtCenter College of Design to explore what performance means in the future.  

In a Nissan-sponsored class, nine Transportation Design students are challenged to capture the soul of Nissan, by researching the 90-year history of the company and creating an iconic Nissan product for 2033, representing the brand’s performance DNA. The year 2033 is Nissan’s 100th anniversary.  

“Today we design cars in the ever-evolving landscape of mobility, electrification and of course the changing needs of customers,” said Ken Lee, senior design director, Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. and an alumnus of ArtCenter. Lee initiated the project with the College and will provide input on students’ work. “Through this project, I hope we will inspire and motivate, and learn from each other,” he continued.  

Students will also have regular check-ins with NDA designers throughout the course of the 14-week term and will give a final presentation of their concepts on April 18, 2023. In sponsored projects like this, students receive industry experts’ feedback and guidance to develop their concepts and learn about real-life industry practices. The courses also provide networking opportunities for the sponsors, students and the larger ArtCenter community.  

NDA has a long history of collaborating with ArtCenter and many alums have gone on to work at Nissan. A few recent alums include Marcus Quach (BS 13), who helped revamp exterior design of the Nissan Pathfinder SUV in 2022 and Tom Hu (BS 17) whose interior design theme is part of the 2022 Nissan Frontier pickup truck. “The students at ArtCenter are some of the best and brightest designers in the world, “said David Woodhouse, vice president, Nissan Design America. “The best design students should always be provocative and challenge the status quo to create compelling visions never seen before. We can’t wait to see what ground-breaking visions they will create during this project.”  

“One of the significant factors for students to understand is the importance of brand within a design,” said Marek Djordjevic, Transportation Design professor at ArtCenter College of Design. “Nissan has a rich heritage. Students will ask questions like, what is Nissan? What are key attributes, key values of the brand and how can we make them resonate with a new generation of customers? How do you manage to instill a sense of enthusiasm that Nissan designs have and yet make them available to a mass market?”  

In preparing students for careers in industry, ArtCenter provides access to the latest tools being implemented at automotive companies. Throughout this class, students will be working with Gravity Sketch — a software to express and refine their ideas at scale in 3D, using virtual reality headsets. The students and stakeholders at Nissan are able to experience these 3D creations in virtual reality or present them from a desktop screen for review, minimizing the misinterpretation of ideas and preserving design intent.  

Nissan Design America is creating in-process videos for social media that can be viewed here.  

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About Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.
For more information about our products, services and commitment to sustainable mobility, visit You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn and see all our latest videos on YouTube.  

About Nissan Design America
Established in 1979 in La Jolla, California, Nissan Design America’s (NDA) mission is to provide a local perspective on the North American market and generate innovative design works as part of Nissan Global Design organization. NDA is a full-service automotive design studio capable of handling all phases of design development from far visions to production reality, employing world-class methodologies with a talented diverse team and a progressive California nature of working. NDA is a division of Nissan North America, Inc.  

About ArtCenter Sponsored Projects
Engagement with industry through Sponsored Projects have been a hallmark feature of an ArtCenter education since its founding in 1930. Hundreds of corporate sponsored programs have taken place at the College, interweaving business methods into the fabric of ArtCenter’s robust design pedagogy. These sponsored collaborations bring industry thought leaders into an unrestricted and creative classroom environment where the next generation of artists and designers explore the future of design. Students undergo real-world design challenges that enrich their knowledge and provide them with potential internship and job opportunities. ArtCenter offers a wide range of both domestic and international sponsored programs with corporate partners in industries ranging from automotive, healthcare, food-and-beverage, software and consumer products. Each project incorporates current trends in emerging technologies with a focus on the user experience.   

About ArtCenter
Founded in 1930 and located in Pasadena, California, ArtCenter College of Design is a global leader in art and design education. ArtCenter offers 11 undergraduate and 10 graduate degrees in a wide variety of art and design disciplines. In addition to its top-ranked academic programs, the College also serves the general public through a highly regarded series of year-round online and on campus extension programs for all levels of experience. Renowned for both its ties to industry and its social impact initiatives, ArtCenter is the first design school to receive the United Nations’ Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) status. Throughout the College’s long and storied history, ArtCenter alumni have had a profound impact on popular culture, the way we live and important issues in our society.

Teri Bond

Media Relations Director

ArtCenter College of Design

626 396-2385 office 

Emily Logan

Public Relations Specialist

ArtCenter College of Design

626 396-2206 office  

Jeannie Whited
Nissan Corporate Communications  

Eiko Grafton
Sr. Planner
Nissan Design America  
858-622-8319 office

Transportation Design student David He participating in the Nissan-sponsored program, presented his concepts during the mid-term review held at Nissan Design America (NDA) in San Diego, March 2023.

Hiren Patel, sr. manager of design at NDA, with ArtCenter students during their visit to NDA in San Diego. Hiren is one of the mentors for the students in the Nissan-sponsored program.

Transportation Design student Stig Wang presented his concepts during the mid-term review held at NDA in San Diego.

ArtCenter students utilizing Gravity Sketch software to design cars in the virtual environment © ArtCenter College of Design/Juan Posada.