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Posted on Thursday, February 26, 2015 by Jim Norrena

(l-r) Dave Malouf, IxD15 summit co-chair; Don Norman, keynote speaker; John Somoza, Intel higher education program manager; Simona Maschi, IxD15 summit co-chair

Trailblazing cognitive scientist and usability engineer Don Norman, author of The Design of Everyday Things (Basic Books 1988), a book that introduced the idea of “user-centered design” to budding designers worldwide, delivered the keynote address at the sold-out Interaction Design Education Summit, hosted by CCA Sunday, February 8.

(The summit was part of the larger Interaction 15 conference held in various locations in San Francisco Februrary 9-11.)

The book has since become required reading for students and teachers alike everywhere.

“He put ‘design’ as a verb on the map,” said Interaction Design chair Kristian Simsarian, in his introduction of the notoriously stern and witty author.

Not one to mince words, Norman immediately took the opportunity to critique today’s design education system.

“Design must grow up. We need a wider variety of designers,” said Norman, who proposed more teamwork between disciplines and a focus on approach, rather than end solutions.

“Wicked problems require broad education, not just craft.”

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Posted on Thursday, February 12, 2015 by Chris Bliss

California College of the Arts (CCA) is pleased to announce that it will assume publication of the online contemporary arts journals Art Practical (AP) and Daily Serving (DS), effective immediately.

This creates the unprecedented opportunity for the two publications to continue to serve a broad community while enabling students to learn professional skills in publishing and to conceive of new audiences for their ideas.

As the publisher, CCA will serve as the fiscal agent for Art Practical and Daily Serving. The two publications have been run as independent entities since their founding in 2006 (DS) and 2009 (AP).

Each will retain its core mission, editorial vision, and autonomy in all areas, including content, staffing, and programming.

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Posted on Tuesday, February 10, 2015 by Jeremy Joan Hewes

Anh (left) and Hoang Nguyen in San Francisco (photo: Luis Ruano)

When Industrial Design alumni Hoang Nguyen and his brother Anh came to CCA in 2004 and 2006, respectively, they started a club with the objective of getting a group of students to work together, helping each other learn and improve their skills.

They named the club for its purpose: Creative Session.

Although the club was slow to develop, that early effort evolved into their joint venture, a lively online presence that showcases an array of design projects, videos, and musings from the two brothers.

Creative Session (CS) has been going for seven-plus years and has brought Anh and Hoang lots of attention, including invitations to teach, to participate in design competitions, and most recently to be jury captains for consumer products at the 2015 Core77 Design Awards.

They also receive frequent job inquiries, Hoang says, “but we make it clear that CS is and has always been a platform for Anh and me to think, create, and share as brothers and, more importantly, as designers without constraints.”

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Posted on Monday, February 9, 2015 by Benjamin Austin

Thor (Þorfinnur) Guðnason and Lynn Kirby

In 1985 documentary filmmaker Thor (Þorfinnur) Guðnason (BFA Film/Video 1988) was just starting his career, a journey that has led him to great success, when he graduated from CCA.

Since then he has made award-winning documentaries with worldwide distribution (National Geographic, TBS, ARTE, ZDF, NRK, TVP, Discovery Europe, etc.).

And like most young artists, Guðnason had many interests when he began his career, but it wasn’t until inspiration struck that he was able to pursue his passion in earnest.

Inspired by Filmmaking

“When I saw David Lynch's film Eraserhead, something struck a nerve in me,” says Guðnason. “I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life: make films and tell stories.”

This revelation brought clarity of purpose, but realizing intent is only part of the process of becoming; actualization requires sacrifice.

For Guðnason it required leaving his Icelandic home, where no film programs existed, in search of cinematic opportunities abroad.

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Posted on Friday, February 6, 2015 by Jim Norrena

CCA's Oakland campus

Editor's note: CCA Graphic Design associate professor David Asari met with Art.College.Life blogger Elaine Pelz, who highlighted the benefits of a CCA education at artcollegelife.com.
 

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Posted on Thursday, January 22, 2015 by Laura Braun

From the Serpent & Bow blog

When Rachel Blodgett (Textiles/Printmaking, 2011) first arrived at CCA’s Oakland campus, she knew she had found her place. As someone drawn to history and nature, the century-old college and its foliage-laden campus instantly called to her.

In fact, the lush landscape of the campus served as an impetus for her fascination with dyes, which inspired her to launch Serpent & Bow, a full-fledged online business specializing mainly in sustainable indigo-dyed lingerie.

Visit Serpent & Bow on Etsy »

“The Oakland campus felt magical and it just felt like home to me. I enjoyed taking the shuttle between campuses. My first year I took Fashion [Design] and had to get up early and it was just really beautiful,” says Blodgett.

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Posted on Friday, January 16, 2015 by Jim Norrena

In 2011 students Anna Acquistapace (DMBA 2011), Olivia Nava (DMBA 2012), and Eric Persha (DMBA 2012), launched an idea inspired by the MBA in Design Strategy program's Social Ventures course (taught by faculty member Steve Diller).

The idea involves working with members of a solar-distribution company as a partner organization to offer community members in rural Tanzania connectivity services that use renewable solar energy.

(Initially the partner organization had wanted to address better solar-powered lighting solutions in Tanzania, which evolved into the more wide-serving Juabar business model.)

"Our [CCA] education helped us realize that you don’t approach innovation by answering questions, but rather you look to understand end-users’ needs.

"So we didn’t come to that project on 'how can we better sell solar lights?' but more 'how do we understand the electricity experience of Tanzanians with little or no electricity experience?'"

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Posted on Monday, January 12, 2015 by Rachel Walther

New York-based alumnus Erik den Breejen’s (BFA Painting 1999) paintings from afar read as simple pop art portraiture, but from up close they acquire another dimension entirely.

His portraits of famous musicians and performers -- including Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Richard Pryor, Karen Carpenter, and Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun, to name just a few -- are composed of meticulously selected texts from the performer’s own body of work that, when laid out on the canvas, fit together to pay tribute to the subject’s impact as an artist.

Learn more »

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Posted on Thursday, January 1, 2015 by Glen Helfand

Holland Cotter speaking at CCA's Honorary Doctorate Luncheon

Without oversight, the art world might be ruled by spectacle and sales. We hear a lot about record-setting auction prices, blue-chip artists, and art fair attendance figures. All well and good for the beneficiaries, but these are just parts of a much more nuanced arts ecosystem.

Too easily eclipsed is the fact that most art is made by people who have plenty more on their minds than making money. Which is why a critic with the humanistic temperament of Holland Cotter is so important, and so refreshing to read.

About Holland Cotter

Cotter is a Pulitzer prize–winning writer, a poet, and the recipient of CCA’s 2014 honorary doctorate in fine arts. He writes weekly reviews and more extensive essays for the New York Times, where he’s been a full-time critic since 1998.

Cotter is hardly strident -- he’s more like an endearing watchdog -- and his thoughtful writings encourage readers to consider the value of aesthetic and intellectual adventurousness. He also consistently draws attention to artists and perspectives that might otherwise be overlooked.

It’s an important role, and he carries it out with engaged responsibility and humbleness.

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Posted on Friday, December 26, 2014 by Rachel Walther

Fashion chair Amy Williams with Laura SchmitsView slideshow 

At Madewell’s bustling fashion design offices in Manhattan, CCA alumna Laura Schmits (Fashion Design 2010) is part of a growing creative team. Madewell is owned and nurtured by its parent company, J.Crew.

Schmits’s career has seen a rapid rise into New York’s fashion scene aided by her consistent vision of clothing that is minimal and precise.

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