Design Division Lecture Series: Emmet Byrne: Oblique Content Strategies

emmet_byrne_po_002 final (small)

Lecture: Thursday, February 13
Nave Alcove, CCA SF Campus
1111 Eighth St.



Emmet Byrne is the design director and associate curator of design at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. He provides creative leadership and strategic direction for the Walker in all areas of visual communication, branding, and publishing, while overseeing the award-winning in-house design studio. The exhibition Designs for Different Futures—a show about how design helps complicate and create multiple futures which he co-curated—recently opened at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. He was one of the founders of the short-lived design magazine Task Newsletter in 2009 and is the creator of the Walker’s Intangibles platform—a product line of objects with no physical form. His work has been recognized by the NY TimesWired MagazineGrafikCreative Review, among many others; featured in exhibitions such as the 2nd Istanbul Design Biennial and the 27th Brno Biennial; and his book design has twice won the Core77 award for Visual Communication. He is the editor of the Walker’s impulsive design blog, The Gradient.


Presented by CCA Design Division, MFA Design, and Curatorial Practice programs

Na Kim Workshop: The Manual of Curiosities


Anyone would collect something, some moment, either consciously or unconsciously, and this collection explains the particles of oneself—a substantial body of personality, his/her interests, and histories. For many years I have initiated workshops based on participants’ personal collections to explore the conceptual relationship with personal objects and (re) contextualizing stories behind them in the design process. For instance, ‘Your Autobiography’ which investigates the connection between collecting personal archives and the process of writing an autobiography. Since the way of writing one’s autobiography means re-constructing one’s memory and almost re-writing personal history, the editing and contextualizing the personal collections reminds the similar process with that. In this workshop, the participants will not just consider the state of autobiography, but we will look into the idea of the Cabinet of Curiosities (Wunderkammer), which is a well-known example of the personal collection around 16C. As for a model of pre- and post-modern museum, revisiting the form of Cabinet of Curiosities enable us to experience the value of collection and archive and how to recontextualize it from the original definition. With this process, the participants will have a chance to understand the method of the spatial aspect of presentation as well as the visual language of graphic design practice.

Group 1: 

Annika Bastacky (MFA Design)

Sarah Bonnickson (MFA Design)

Youyou Ma (Curatorial Practice)

Leandra Burnett (Curatorial Practice and Architecture)

Eunji Lee (Undergraduate GD)


Group 2

Juan Pablo Rahal (MFA Design)

Chloe Looker (MFA Design)

Yeqi Liu (MFA Design)

Emily Markert (Curatorial Practice)

Kaming Lee (Undergraduate GD)


Group 3

Meg Quarton (MFA Design)

Troy Taylor (MFA Design)

Shaelyn Hanes (Curatorial Practice)

Darian Newman (Undergraduate GD)


Leon Ransmeier Workshop: Flexible Boundaries

Workshop Description

Flexible Boundaries

Designer Leon Ransmeier will lead a 3 day workshop at CCA to explore the design of tensile textile structures. The workshop will employ a defined palette of materials: cotton canvas, nylon webbing, nylon rope, metal D-rings, metal grommets, and fiberglass rods.

The designs must use tension to achieve their form and contribute to their desired use. The boundaries created may function as barriers to rain, sun, wind, visibility, physical access, and more. Potential applications will serve humans and / or objects. Solutions of various sizes are encouraged, however scale is limited by available materials.

Following a presentation of reference material, the participants will be given a design brief to work from. After a brief period of research, they will define their project within the prescribed constraints. The students are then encouraged to experiment in full scale, building quick samples to develop their designs. Hands-on experimentation is prioritized over computer modeling and digital means. The final outcome will be a series of useable mock-ups.

Wen Liu

Jason Malik

Abigayle Cosinuke

Mingke Yu

Yang Liu

Ting-Kai Wang


Project: Berg. Graphic Sublayer Transfer System (GSTS) Workshop


A collective poster and book making workshop designed by Berg. and hosted at The California Academy of Science, The Institute of advancing Uncertainty, SF Art Book Fair, and California College of the Arts.

The workshop invites the public create a poster using graphite rubbings over curated images from our research. The rubbing technique pulls the underlying structures up from below. The posters are scanned and added to the Berg. archive. We then print a limited edition book that catalogs the posters. The interaction is determined by the spatial layout of the workshop and is responsive to user feedback. As we restage the workshop, we adapt to the specific architecture, time frame and constraints of each installation.

Memory / MFA Thesis 2019


The survey tool is a completely divergent enterprise. Playing in this space, using this space as a storytelling device, and using graphics to amplify the look and feel between the form and the reader. The audit begins with logistic questions, such as date and location, and it reaches the arch where it asks unanswerable questions. The form of this is a never-ending survey, a metaphor for the fact that you will never really truly know someone.

The assemblage of the form is intended to help us understand why we do the things we do and feel the way we feel, and how we must be mindful of the actions we take in everyday mundane life. This could also help us understand the layers and gaps between things and experiences that bring us to these intangible places. What can they do? What do they mean?

Black Point Beach Club / MFA Thesis 2019


San Francisco’s Aquatic Park has a history of heavy industry, leisure and tourism dating back to the Gold Rush. All three have been drawn to the area because of its proximity to the warm waters of the sheltered cove. It is the story of a dialogue between civilization and the sea. I have used the history and motif of the area’s beach clubs to explore the future of leisure adjacent to the changing coastline. The project centers around interacting with an adaptable object made up of wood units and orange cloth. The action of attempted assembly adds tension and struggle to leisure, thus increasing the users’ sensitivity to the ecosystem they are interacting with.

Trigonometrical Survey Net / MFA Thesis 2019


Historically, trigonometrical surveying was a way of mapping geographic locations that started with a single straight line.  In 1801, a trigonometrical survey of India started with a single seven-and-a-half-mile straight line at the bottom of the country. The intent was to draw one triangle at a time, until the entire country had been mapped. Projected to only take five years, it ended up taking about sixty-nine years to complete.

 Led by the British, it must be said that the purpose of the survey was to address the value of India as an export nation. Though the colonial history cannot be ignored, the British developed a system so robust that it could be used for decades with a consistent result, and this is what intrigued me. Looking at how they developed their system, I was inspired to create my own system that would be just as strong. Through this system, I was looking to find things that were going unnoticed. By creating my own trigonometrical survey net, I was able to locate and explore these hidden things within an ecosystem.

In an effort to randomize my findings, I looked to the process of quadrant analysis as a method of activation. This accepted scientific method is designed to map species in a particular area, and is activated by throwing a grid into that area. This method is a way to maintain an impartial sample set.

The inspiration behind the tool that accompanies my survey net is the work of sound artist, Alvin Lucier. Lucier’s work often employs custom build apparatuses that respond to the subtlest of environmental effects. I wanted to create a tool that, in tandem with my net, would highlight subtly like Lucier’s work.

 The creation of the net was intended to serve as a tool to gather data with no discernible purpose but to activate the imagination of the viewer. Looking at the research findings as a collection of evidence, the viewer should get a sense that there is something larger at play.

 After the net has been thrown, the next step of the survey is the application of the viewfinder, an important tool that works in tandem with the net. The intent is for the aperture to isolate and heighten areas.  When all appropriate forms of documentation are collected, the user can move to the next data set, or triangle and begin the process over again.

Reclaim / MFA Thesis 2018


The project focuses on reclaiming his workspace at MFA design studios as a gallery space, and install 4 exhibitions which relate the title itself—Reclaim. The space initialed the first exhibition on 02.18.2018, and the 5th exhibition, which is the final closure exhibition, will be on view at CCA Hubbell Street Gallery from 05.10.–05.14.2018, as a part of 2018 CCA MFA Design Thesis Exhibition.

Test Image / MFA Thesis 2018

Processed with VSCO with fp2 preset

Test Image explores image-making techniques to celebrate and critique the digital world that we live in. Using traditional and new forms of image-making methods (riso printing and processing) hybridized images are created that visually articulate the intersection between traditional print and new digital imaging methods.

Course: Web to Print, Year One

Yanyifan Dong

The browser allows designers to create truly trans-media works by drawing from the same content to produce both digital and printed products. This course will use the browser to investigate systems and algorithms in graphic design in both digital and analog ways. The browser, in its mutability and its fraught relationship to form, will be used as a vehicle to interrogate and innovate layout techniques, typesetting, hierarchy, and visual form. Students will build skills in HTML, CSS, & Javascript as well as learn print production techniques in this analog-digital hybrid course.

Exhibition: ⌘P


Opening Reception:
Thursday, March 8, 5:30-7:30 PM
CCA Hubble St. Gallery
151  Hubble St
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Work by:
Kennis Chow
Max DeVore
Yangyifan Dong
Winston Struye
Zheyuan Zhang
Mo Zhou
Qi Zhou
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Faculty: Catherine Leigh Schmidt and Jon Sueda
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Exhibition Description:

The browser allows designers to create truly trans-media works by drawing from the same content to produce both digital and printed products. ⌘P will explore the browser to investigate systems and algorithms in graphic design in both digital and analog ways. The browser, in its mutability and its fraught relationship to form, will be used as a vehicle to interrogate and innovate layout techniques, typesetting, hierarchy, and visual form.

Frame / MFA Thesis 2017


The frame defines a 2D space from the external world. I am trying to map and sum up an logic of graphic design by finding and locating these frames. From my perspective, the invisible space is the most important aspect of graphic design. Although the topic and text change, the frame is consistent supporting the visible system. In another words, the frame is the truth of graphic styles or forms.

Through my research, I’ve explored the poster as a historical design object. This traditional graphic design format has evolved and has become nearly extinct during the rise of interactive design. How do posters work as a graphic design object? What is the frame of posters? How do you break the frame? How do posters work as a materialized object? If the frame of posters suggest technological limitation, then how do posters express our position of our time in design’s history. With three visual experiments, I am trying to explore the physical frame, technological frame, and the frame of perspective. By showing multiple frames in a single format, I am trying to understand what happened inside and outside the graphic domain.

Dark Design / MFA Thesis 2017


JPEG compression. Skewed graphics. Missing glyphs. Misaligned mechanisms. Unexpected inputs.

New technologies begin as broken tools. Emerging from a primordial soup of glitches, bugs, and errors, they endure years of debugging, buffing, and polishing which gradually refine them until they disappear into the smoothness of the background. There they operate, invisible functions which pattern life until, suddenly, a short-circuit violently interrupts their operation. Error. Crash. System failure. Like an open wound, the rupture requires immediate attention, sutures. But what if we reached not for sutures but shovels, and dug into the wounds? What would we find? Circuits. Traces. Unnoticed logics. Horrors. Darkness.

In a world of closed systems and imperceivable algorithms the broken tool produces gaps where one would like to be assured of unity, not unlike the uncanny horror of the evil twin or the android. These gaps trigger memories and uncertainties with a rare capacity to engage us intellectually, emotionally, and subversively.

My design explorations into tool-breaking and the uncanny, what I call “dark design,” explores this as a design methodology which seeks to find those gaps, work them open, and invite people in.

Index Typeface / MFA Thesis 2017

John Wegner Index-3

Index was created as part of my thesis project called Methods of Organization. The concept comes from the working title for our MFA Design thesis show, Fakes.

The process:
1.Choose two fonts
2.Place one on top of the other
3.Remove areas where they overlap, fill areas unique to each

NOTI / MFA Thesis 2017


NOTI is an internet-connected notification device. The idea of the work is to filter messages based on the user’s focus level. Three balls made of different materials (wood, glass, and metal) are metaphors of mental heaviness, which is intuitive and innovative.

View Video

Photogrammetric Collage / MFA Thesis 2017


This body of work, developed between October 2016 and March 2017, is part of my MFA Design thesis, examining the dissolving boundaries between the physical and digital domains. For this project I explored photogrammetry, the process of generating a 3D model through photography, as a vehicle to sample and remix data from the physical world. Using a method I developed of selectively jamming together multiple distinct forms, this work is a collection of surprising and dynamic hybridized objects, which extend the imagination and can only be manifested again physically via digital fabrication processes.

This project speculates on the future by imagining how advances in rapidly maturing technology apply to design and culture. The project also involves the creation of a generative process that yields exciting results beyond the sum of the inputs and represents a new approach relating to physical design form making, another mode of practice advocated by the MFA Design program. The process produces outcomes that dance the line between art and design, a boundary that I’ve been encouraged to explore during my time at CCA. Finally, as a consistent thread throughout my thesis research, the objects in this work are part of a wider body of inquiry and broader discourse about the world of designed objects and form generation.

Colin Owen Poster / In the Making


This poster was designed for Colin Owen’s In the Making lecture and was meant to reflect his working philosophy: Accuracy, efficiency, and industry.

The marks/symbols in this poster demonstrate the broad spectrum of Colin’s interests and methods. Behind the large variety of Colin’s toolkit, there was a system, represented by the parameter, which organized each part together. Eventually, all this meanings and forms works together like Colin’s instruction, and visually guide the audience towards the targeted information with rhythm and order.

Personal Carbon Economy / MFA Thesis 2017

Algae garments small

A future scenario of personal-scale carbon cap and trade, and products resulting from it, to promote a carbon responsible future.

The current Carbon Cap and Trade is reducing industrial carbon emissions, but even if we fully implement the Paris Climate Agreement proposals by 2100, humanity is still far away from sustainable life, as shown by scientific research from Climate Interactive.

Personal Carbon Economy (PCE) redesigned industrial cap and trade system for an individual scale. In the future model, individuals are encouraged to offset every kilogram of CO2 they emitted to bring humanity closer to the carbon sustainable life.

 For our current and anticipated Anthropocene challenges, the collective bottom-up power is beyond measure.

Link to project website


First 100 Days / MFA Thesis 2017


Deluge and spectacle, media and politics, and image over-saturation in the digital age – a chronological collection of material gathered during the first hundred days of Trump’s presidency. Photography by William Bottini.

Drawing Machine Exhibition / CCA Hubble Street Gallery


The Exhibition Drawing Machines, is a result of a course taught by Colin Owen and Martin Venezky and features the work of MFA Design Students: Ashley Adams, Sophie Feller, Yisha Dai, Buge Jiang, Kate Moore, Bo Peng, Rob


Exhibition Synopsis


This exhibition investigates assistive and autonomous tools for art making. These “drawing machines,” created by MFA Design students explore the collaborative, augmentative, and translational nature of the tool/hand relationship, building processes that veer between disciplined refinement and wild chaos. Bashing, hacking, disrupting, and refining have pushed both discourse and content into elegant working objects as well as aesthetic 2D output.

Society of Typographic Arts 100 Award Winners: Praree Kittidumkerng, Jiho Jung, and Bo Peng


Congratulations to recent CCA MFA Design graduate Praree Kittidumkerng, former student Jiho Jung, and current student Bo Peng, who were awarded the Society of Typographic Arts 100 Award for creating one of the top 100 graphic design projects of 2016.


Visual Braille Type – Senses, Sound Experience
Praree Kittidumkerng
Jiho Jung


The Legendary Debates of Graphic Design
Bo Peng

UFO: Unidentified Food Objects / MFA Thesis 2016

Praree_object photo-3_SMALL
The way we use cooking tools and eating utensils influences how we approach food culture both economically and socially. The traditional European table setting which include fork, knife and spoon are based on etiquette and table manners. Eating is a physical need, and meals are a social ritual, therefore we conform to unspoken rules.
However, when a tool is not an easily understood shape or a common form, is the experience of food altered?

Between art and everyday life a blurry boundary exists. I am investigating whether a new combination of objects’ forms can lead to new culinary objects that produce new uses. I created a design intervention that stimulates people’s curiosity about the objects and challenge users’ imagination in response to the objects’ forms.

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Course: Drawing Machines / Year One Topic Studio


In this course students will create, analyze, and deploy assistive and autonomous tools for art making. Discourse will focus on the collaborative, augmentative, and translational nature of the tool/hand relationship. Built processes will veer between disciplined refinement and wild chaos. Bashing, hacking, disrupting, and refining will push both discourse and content into elegant working objects as well as aesthetic 2D output. Projects will culminate in a final showcase of both made mark and a display of the machine.

Branch: What if Our Objects Were More Adapted to Our World? / MFA Thesis 2016

For my MFA thesis I decided to explore the intersection of the made world with the natural world.
New tools such as 3D scanning and 3D printing provide designers with new ways of working. I am interested in finding ways by which new tools can be used productively in the design process. Specifically, I am interested in developing strategies for designing objects that interact with natural organic forms.
I chose to focus on trees as a study case. Each tree is unique and beautifully complex, creating endless challenges and opportunities. I chose to design birdhouses, allowing me to explore different ways to capture the geometry of the tree and design a form that interfaces with a tree and a bird.
These birdhouses allow me to speculate on how new tools may be used to connect nature and culture.

Course: Advanced Typography / Year One


The Legendary Debates of Graphic Design

The debate as to whether design (or graphic design) can truly be classified as art in the literal sense has raged on for years. It’s a complex and rather convoluted argument to have, as both designers and artists create their own visual interpretations and compositions with the skills and knowledge set they have. Their reasons and motivations for engaging in those artistic acts, however, are total polar opposites.   


The Book features two styles to represents the voices of the debates: 1. “The Fake Voice”: As one of the victims of Nazi, Jan Tchichold spent the rest of his life trying to overthrow the modern typography system that he found. The Black Letter in red represents the voice of Nazi German, whose dictation greatly influenced Tchichold’s path of career and graphic design style. 2.The style of no style: Mass Production—the entropy of individuality while the production take off. The individual speciality loses its charm during the duplicating process of production. Each unit of the pages has the content, yet different types—weight, size, style. However, with the mask of duplication, they look indifferent, no matter how much energy the designer had vainly spent his time.

Course: Public Interactives / Year One Topic Studio

Future Grocery01_SMALL

Future Grocery Store
Sponsored Studio by Intel

In recent years, a lot of shopping has moved to on-line situations. This is great for some purposes. However, being in a well-designed physical space and holding tangible items on your hand could be a unique and unforgettable experience with the help of latest technologies. This project is to imagine the possibilities of future grocery stores using the Intel RealSense Camera.

Through the interviews and random talks with some shoppers in the grocery store, we found out that most customers are willing to know more about basic knowledge of the food including nutrition, preparation, selection and recipe, especially the unfamiliar food. They are also interested in the seasonal food concept since it’s healthier and tastier.

We come up with the idea to design a food information system “Eat In the Moment”.


See Video

Course: Wild Hybrids / Year One Topic Studio

Jacket project 

The Jacket project is a wearable interaction design in which people can play with their body temperatures. This artwork started from research I did on a mountain rescuer’s life where I viewed the high awareness they have for temperature and equipment related to it.

Jacket 1- 10 Pocket Jacket

When I researched peoples’ interactions with body temperature in daily life, I found that body temperature makes people feel close with each other but can also make them feel further apart. For example, when we touch a bus handle, we may have an unpleasant sensation when we feel the body temperature of a stranger who grabbed it and heated it up. It makes us weirdly too close to the stranger. On the other hand, when we use a hot pad in the winter, we want to be isolated and snuggle with it without anyone else heating us up. I designed a jacket with 10 pockets to demonstrate this social norm.

Jacket 2- 14 Stone Jacket

Electronic devices are good at controlling their heat. On the other hand, people often need more heat or cold. How can people circulate their body temperature from person to person like the heat system of electronic devices? How can people give/take their heat from each other? I designed a jacket with 14 stones put in each of the 14 pockets. The stones can save body temperature and then be delivered to people who need more heat.

Jacket 3- Rice Jacket

When our emotions change, our body temperature changes. For instance, when we are sad, our limbs get cold. When we feel happy or excited, our bodies get overheated. I designed a microwavable and freezable jacket filled with rice and lavender seeds for an individual to interact with his or her emotions and body temperature.


Course: Wild Hybrids / Year One Topic Studio

The 3rd Lung Mask (small)

Breathing Project

Inspired by Scuba diving devices, I designed a set of three objects which will serve human to live better in an air polluted environment, such as China.Nevertheless, the weirdness of the object behaviors will trigger the awareness that human should breath fresh air freely and healthily.


1. THE 3RD LUNG MASK-Evolution of outside lung

Masks have become a daily necessity for living. Humans need a third lungoutside of their body to filter the air before it enters the lungs. Because directly inhaling polluted air will create damage to the lungs.

H&M released a new mask that works like your third lung outside of your body. It will inflate while exhaling and deflate while inhaling. It is disposable and more efficient than other masks due to the foldable wavy structure.


2. PERSONAL LUNG TRAINER-Resist lung degradation

The polluted air injured people’s lungs and degraded their ability to breathe. It became a social problem.

Nike released a personal lung trainer that people can wear while working out in order to strengthen their lungs. The health conscious started a campaign of “Be aware, Be responsible.


3. OXYGEN CIGARETTE-luxury mental energy shots for women

People get depressed living in the polluted air environment. So they inhale oxygen cigarettes to relieve depression and improve mental health. Some people get addicted to it. Eventually oxygen cigarettes become a luxury item which not everyone can afford.

Issey Miyake released Oxygen Cigarette for women. The necklace holder can make women inhale oxygen in an elegant and convenient way.

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Course: GD Studio / Year Zero


Mapping Project

One morning, I pulled some of my hair from my head while taking a shower. I began to think about how hair is a piece of DNA that each of us can easily shed, change, or let go of…I began to ask people around me (school, neighborhood, work) if I could take a sample of their hair and record their age and origin. The data I began to collect inspired three types of media to express the journey of the hair being collected and analyzed into a social-spatial map of my environment within San Francisco.
The data suggests a kind of global-ness to an intimate space from which I was able to collect information. #demographic infographics.

The Video is a collage-montage of hair being cut, shaved, trimmed, pulled, brushed, and picked. This sequence projects a disruptive and invasive experience into the personal space of others. 1.55 minutes

The Library is the accumulation of the DNA samples that was collected from each owner in the video.
The library organizes the hair samples by age and origin of the owner of the DNA.

The Poster is the amalgamation of the data content. Using a high-resolution scanner, a relative geographic map proliferates from the origin of the DNA sample owners. This intergalactic interface extracts from our most intimate body parts and creates an impersonal projection of how we remove parts of ourselves, who is participating and how much we are willing to reveal or share…

See Video

Course: IxD Studio / Year Zero


LED Collar


This collar takes a distinctive and unique voice and translates it into a digital display, exploring how things that make us uniquely human can be transformed by technology.  Each wearer has their own color scheme and pattern, exploring new ways of displaying our senses.


See Video


Course: Wild Hybrids / Year One Topic Studio


This project began by choosing a specific “explorer” and deeply understanding one daily routine in the explorer’s life. The final project was to design a tool that related to a routine of that explorer. I picked Onnagata as my explorer and tried to understand their makeup. The Onnagata is a special Kabuki actor that only plays female roles in Kabuki dramas. After researching the subject, I begin to think about how people see others as their gender. Those actors see themselves as neither men nor women, they consider themselves as the third gender. How do machines or computers see us? What really matters with all the facial recognition software and surveillance cameras today? What is “makeup” to this software? Starting with this question, I did a serious experiments about how to trick facial recognition software. After experimenting with materials as well as patterns, I found out that this software sees us as lines and dots. Based on results from my experiments, I turned my assumptions into 3D objects that you can wear and change your identity everyday. The last version are facial masks that can make you into someone else. It can shift your gender, race, age, or, allow you to be unrecognizable to facial recognition software.

Tim Parsons Speculative Design Workshop


Workshop description:

How design can help communicate issues of climate change? Students will learn about the emerging approaches of critical and speculative design and understand how object design, storytelling and scenario-building contribute to the creation of compelling design fictions that help the public re-think important issues of our time.

Building on the recent Future Climate [Hi]stories project Tim Parsons completed with his wife Jessica Charlesworth, students will generate new future climate fictions based on existing climate science, and design and make objects or images that illustrate their narrative.

CCA MFA Design Presents Tim Parsons (Parsons & Charlesworth)


Tim Parsons is a designer, design writer and Associate Professor in Designed Objects at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. A graduate of the Masters program in Design Products at London’s Royal College of Art, he has gone on to teach product design for fifteen years at universities in Britain and America. Tim is co-founder, with his wife Jessica Charlesworth, of the experimental and speculative design studio Parsons & Charlesworth. His design work has been exhibited widely, including at The Design Museum, London and MCA, Chicago. As a writer he has contributed articles and essays to publications including Blueprint, ICON, Crafts and Phaidon’s Design Classics and his book Thinking:Objects: Contemporary Approaches to Product Design was published in 2009 by AVA Academia.

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Image Credit: Char Dolly, by Parsons & Charlesworth
Artifact from Disegno Magazine 2°c Project Future Climate [Hi]stories
The Char Dolly is an artifact designed to accompany a story about a group of individuals dedicated to the task of sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It is forms part of an on-going series of design fictions aimed at helping re-shape the narratives around climate change.

Course: ID Studio / Year Zero


Structured Ashtray

For this project, I was assigned a word and an object, with the task of designing the object based on a language derived from the word. My word and object was “Structured Ashtray.” I chose to define “structured” in reference to the highly organized, efficient, and logical organization of time and movement. With this design language identified, I eventually decided upon making a speculative design piece that comments on the duality of the freedom and structure inherent in smoking cigarettes. The ashtray sounds a chime and ejects a cigarette every hour on the hour from 7am to 10pm, giving the user 10 minutes to smoke each one to completion. And each minute of that 10 minutes, another chime indicates the opening of a hatch to allow ashing of the cigarette. Day to day, hour to hour, and minute to minute, the process of smoking is highly structured. The accompanying user manual serves to explain the concept to viewers. While this message has been told in many ways before, I hope to cast a different light on the subject with a unique, physically designed take on the subject matter.

MFA Design presents (as part of the Graduate Studies Lecture Series) : Experimental Jetset


Experimental Jetset is an Amsterdam-based graphic design studio founded in 1997 by Marieke Stolk, Erwin Brinkers and Danny van den Dungen. Focusing on printed matter and site-specific installations, Experimental Jetset have worked on projects for a wide variety of institutes, including Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Centre Pompidou, Dutch Post Group and Whitney Museum of American Art.

Their work has been featured in group exhibitions such as ‘Graphic Design: Now in Production’ (Walker Art Center, 2011) and ‘Ecstatic Alphabets / Heaps of Language’ (MoMA, 2012). Solo exhibitions include ‘Kelly 1:1’ (Casco Projects, 2002) and ‘Two or Three Things I Know About Provo’ (W139, 2011 / Moravian Gallery, 2012).

In 2007, a large selection of printed matter by Experimental Jetset was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art (New York). Other institutes that have collected work by Experimental Jetset include Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), SFMOMA (San Francisco), Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago), Museum für Gestaltung (Zürich), Centre National des Arts Plastiques (Paris), and Cooper Hewitt (New York).

In 2015, Roma Publications (Amsterdam) released a monograph titled ‘Statement and Counter-Statement: Notes on Experimental Jetset’, featuring essays by Linda van Deursen, Mark Owens, Ian Svenonius and Jon Sueda.

Between 2000 and 2013, Experimental Jetset have been teaching at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie. They are currently teaching at the Werkplaats Typografie and Artez (Arnhem).
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About the 2015-16 Graduate Studies Lecture Series

The 2015–16 Graduate Studies Lecture Series explores the many ways in which we undertake daily acts of both literal and implied translation, whether from ideas into actions or ideas into artworks, designs, films, or exhibitions; plans into buildings; or thought into the written and illustrated word.

In addition to exploring more general modes of translation, this series offers opportunities to consider specifically the challenges and opportunities of translating from one language, medium, or context to another.

Martin Venezky: Wallscapes


Come join us to celebrate MFA Design faculty member Martin Venezky’s selection as a new member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale in 2016!

On this occasion we have installed an exhibition of Martin’s recent work in our MFA Design Studio titled Martin Venezky: Wallscapes, and will hold a reception and Conversation between Martin Venezky and Faculty members Megan Lynch and Brett MacFadden. Please join us!

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Martin Venezky: Wallscapes  
CCA MFA Design Studio
Reception: Thursday, Jan 28th,
at 6:30pm followed by Conversation at 7:15 pm
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Exhibition on view: Jan 25-Feb 5
If you are not a CCA Student, Faculty, or Staff,
please email to make appointment
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Course: Form Studio / Year One


A Tool for Making _____________

This project challenges you to create a design tool you’ve all probably used before but most likely taken for granted, the Template. This investigation aims to explore and complicate a conventional tool of the design trade in both a physical and conceptual sense. By creating a physical mark-making tool, you build a new model for creating form, language, communication, and storytelling. These tools should also be accessible to other designer/makers and facilitate them building on the language you create. This project will combine the cold logic of systems design and the pleasure and idiosyncrasies of hand work. This project will cross all disciplines in that you will be responsible for a 3-Dimentional form, that interacts with multiple users, to make 2 Dimensional marks. This assignment will address these multiple areas and ask you to address several methodologies.

Course: Light Studio / Year One Topic Studio


Light Studio will center on the ethereal and physical character of light, as a source of inspiration and provocation. Light(ing) is one of the basic constituents of our built environment. The last fifteen years has witnessed a radical shift in how we consider light, primarily because of new technologies for the creation and simulation of “pervasive emissive surfaces”. The studio will explore new lighting strategies/technologies with the intention of manifesting results in built forms. Various methods for engagement will be explored (e.g., slice of time, word/place prompts, design precedence, etc.). There will be three distinct projects, coupled by a framework created by each student according to their own interests. Work will track according to independently defined exploration areas, with reviews and milestones coordinated as a class. The Studio will move through three contiguous phases of work, exploration/research, definition/validation and execution/refinement. Students will learn 3D modeling tools, how to move from digital information to physical output, prototyping techniques, how to collaborate with people from relevant disciplines and translate design strategies into tangible, realized concepts. Outside critics will be introduced as appropriate to the subject.
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William J. Bottini
Dashiell Corvin-Brittin
Sanchit Gupta (video)
Nicholas F. Hansen
Maya Kremien
Lingjiang Lai
Aaron Levine
Li Lin
Robert Sieg
Yunwen Tu
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Course: Year One / Form Studio


Form Studio offers students a strong foundation in the making, assessing, and critiquing of visual materials and begins a discussion that will reverberate through the rest of their studies. Students learn the use and structure of materials and media, and the development of a rigorous and disciplined process through which they can create and analyze what they are creating.
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Rasha Alamoudi
Xuefei Bai
Yisha Dai
Sophie Feller
Peixin Fu
Jitpanan Jaturuntawanichya
Bo Peng
Veena Ramachandran
Hanzi Shao
Rob Sieg
Kelly Steben
Tracy Tsutsumoto
Shihan Zhang
Siyao Zhu
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In the Making / Fall Faculty Presentations: Josh Nimoy, Chris Hamamoto, and Laurel Schwulst


IN THE MAKING is a new student-run faculty lecture series. This series aims to explore the grad school experience… how faculty members developed of a personal way of working in school, including relevant challenges, influences, and transition to their current practice.
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The Fall Series included:
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Josh Nimoy / Friday, Oct 16th, 3pm
Josh Nimoy is a multifaceted software artist with a design and new media arts education. He makes a heavy use of computer programming to produce a lot of his work, and allows the world of code to inspire both is process and his aesthetic. Josh is interested in producing interactive work which “addicts” the audience, through use of synaesthesia and simple game design fundamentals.Josh has spent the last half decade writing simulations and custom generators in Hollywood for use in Film and Television, most notably the hologram elements in TRON:Legacy. 

Josh attended undergraduate school at UCLA Design | Media Arts until 2002, and got a Masters in Professional Studies from NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) in 2004.
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Chris Hamamoto / Friday, Nov 20th, 3pm
Chris Hamamoto is a San Francisco based graphic designer currently working with Landscape in the Lower Haight. He most recently worked with Flipboard after completing his MFA at RISD. Prior to graduate school, Chris worked at FontShop, Studio Kudos, RISD Museum, and taught at RISD. He now teaches at CCA and co-designs, develops, and writes for Typographica and Type Review.
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Laurel Schwulst / Friday, Dec 4th, 3pm
Laurel Schwulst is a designer and artist. She is currently Designer in Residence at California College of the Arts for the Fall 2015 semester. She is owner of Beautiful Company. Previously she worked at the design studio Linked by Air and lectured at Yale University. She is interested in the intersection of art, nature, and the internet.

MFA Design Lecture: Valkyrie Savage


Presentation Synopsis:
As 3D printers increase in quality and in accessibility, we see them moving out of industrial design labs and into maker spaces, libraries, museums, and homes. Even those without physical access to 3D printers can order custom 3D prints from services like Shapeways to be mailed to their homes. But what can people make with these machines, and how can they design those objects? There is a large skill gap between expert modelers and novices; this translates to differences in the types of objects they produce. We want to aid novice makers in moving away from plastic trinkets towards functional objects with embedded electrical and mechanical components. I’ll discuss two projects in this space: one tool allows makers to author geometry using clay and stickers, and the other helps makers create internal pipes.
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Valkyrie is a PhD student working with Bjoern Hartmann in the (UC) Berkeley Institute of Design. Her research focuses on design tools for 3D printing, specifically for creating interactive objects like video game controllers. She is broadly interested in technologies to encourage interest and participation in STEAM.
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Expanding Field Guides Exhibition

4 (1)

CCA MFA Design / AICAD Symposium
November 6th, 6-10 pm
Organized by Sara Dean
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The field guide is a designed item, an collection of a place, and a tool for exploration. Using the Marin Headlands as their starting point, these guides explore the roles that collection, field work, measure, and nature can take in design. The projects are cross-disciplinary collaborations, combining students of from Graphic, Industrial, and Interaction Design.

Design Lab NightLife / Featuring CCA Design


CCA MFA Design / California Academy of Sciences
November 5th, 6-10 pm
Organized by Leslie Roberts, JD Beltran, and Scott Minneman
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In keeping with CCA’s annual partnership exhibition with the California Academy of Sciences, Design Lab explores and illuminates the parallels between the processes of design and the processes of science — identifying a question/problem, researching the field/discipline, proposing theories. developing and experimenting with methods of testing and prototyping, and innovating a solution. Exhibits and projects should illuminate these processes and ideally, engage your audience in thinking about, participating in and learning about these processes, as well.