The design division at California College of the Arts hosts eight programs (see below) that prepare students to be purposeful shapers of everyday life. As makers of meaning, creators of value, and stagers of experience, designers begin by asking questions.
At CCA, these questions do not merely guide a response to existing conditions. They frame an understanding of the ways in which design helps to produce the contexts in which it operates.
This expansive sense of design’s role as a social and cultural driver begins with the Arts and Crafts movement that inspired CCA’s founders. Today the spirit of interdisciplinarity that characterized that movement is once again critical in response to the forces of technological change.
Courses, projects, and events that connect the programs in CCA’s design division offer students practical insights and collaborative experiences that are vital at a time of technical complexity, disciplinary fluidity, and professional transition.
Learn More About CCA’s Design Programs
Programs in the design division share an approach that values practical skills, imparts critical tools, and develops lifelong sources of personal and professional engagement. To empower their projects, students are introduced to material, visual, and analytical methods of research; historical and cultural lines of inquiry; social and environmental dimensions of form; and systemic and strategic modes of thinking.
A culture of critique grounds learning in demonstration throughout the division. In critiques, students hone an interpretive and rhetorical art that will feed and steer their work for life. Once internalized, this process becomes the basis for a self-propelled daily practice. In a professional context, it becomes the language of formative exchanges with clients and peers.
CCA’s groundbreaking MBA in Design Strategy and Graduate Program in Design embody a model of design citizenship, leadership, and enterprise that is also embedded in the division’s undergraduate programs. From foundational studios to individual senior projects, students are encouraged to chart their own course and assume personal and social responsibility for work that does not stop at the edges of a design but knowingly interacts with the context its shape implies.
CCA’s flagship Center for Art and Public Life connects design students to community organizations through projects of real impact and significance. Sponsored studios give students an opportunity to work on dream projects with innovative companies and manufacturers. Internships introduce students to local design firms and lend professional experience to graduates’ portfolios.
Whether working in teams or side by side, design students learn from each other in an atmosphere of respect and support. While at CCA, they win recognition in publications, exhibitions, and competitions sponsored by major professional associations. As graduates, they join leading firms and establish their own innovative practices. Often unprecedented in its conception and range, the work of CCA design alumni sets standards and expands boundaries.
The Design faculty at CCA includes nationally and internationally renowned practitioners who bring their passion and experience to the classroom. Faculty members teach for the constant rewards of creative and intellectual exchange with students whose perspectives will shape their fields. Through their teaching, they expose students to the hands-on inquiry and conceptual daring that drive their own inspiring careers. Guest lecturers and visiting designers give students access to diverse models of critical and professional practice.
With a progressive past and an imaginative present, the Bay Area is home to one of the world’s richest, most influential design communities. CCA brings this community into focus and play in an educational setting whose social and cultural mission attracts luminaries and activists. Close ties to Silicon Valley, ongoing exchanges with the Pacific Rim and Latin America, and a localism in search of alternatives make CCA a center of creative engagement with the future.
Design students have access to studios that are equipped to realize just about any idea. From digital to metal fabrication, from dress knitting to video editing, and from letterpress printing to rapid prototyping, CCA’s facilities offer technical support and material development to projects in a wide range of media.
The New Materials Resource Center is open to all design students, presenting a hands-on collection of alternative and sustainable samples and references.
The Oakland and San Francisco Media Centers lend students professional-quality audio and video equipment for use on and off campus.
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