15 Years of Impact: ArtCenter Environmental Design Dept.

Back to all News

David Mocarski April 20, 2016

As designers, we find ourselves at a very intriguing point in time. The discipline of design is changing, and in many ways maturing. We have evolved from pretty-makers to impact-makers. Our bottom line has changed from making things as shiny as we can, to reaching the full depth and understanding of our audience and their needs.

Designmatters’ Safe Agua projects have been an enlightening series of encounters. They have allowed us the opportunity to expand how our institution engages the world, how we define our teaching, and how students learn about the ways in which we can all apply our creative passions to make real-world improvements that are drastically needed.

In Environmental Design, we define ourselves as being focused on sensorial spatial experience from the first moment of encounter to the last moment of interaction. We talk about our four pillars as Body, Space, Materials and Emotion. We do not design in a vacuum; we design for the world, in the world.

partners and planning_sac

Safe Agua Peru challenged ArtCenter Students and faculty co-create innovative design solutions to overcome water poverty with families living in Cerro Verde, a 30,000-person slum [asentamientos] perched on the hillsides surrounding Lima, Peru.

The Environmental Design department has led three transdisciplinary studios with Designmatters focused on Safe Agua; each has brought together a wide range of students and new challenges, but in the end has built meaningful relationships with the families in Chile, Peru and Colombia. Together we have been able to redefine how an art and design school can be influential and impactful, but moreover how we can take our love for the creative process and share it where it can benefit people around the world. Design can make a difference; it can make change. Above all, design can improve life.


David Mocarski is Chair of the Environmental Design Department at ArtCenter and is also principal of Arkkit Forms Design, an interdisciplinary design studio that he founded in 1982.  Mocarski has more than 30 years of experience in art and design education. In addition to developing the curricular direction for ArtCenter’s Environmental Design Department, he has taught fine arts, illustration, photography, industrial design and graphics and packaging. Many of his students have gained significant global recognition for their work, and his sponsored studios with Bernhardt Design have defined the model for how industry interfaces with education.

Help us celebrate 15 Years of Designmatters by using the hashtag #DM15Yrs

Catch up on the entire campaign at  designmattersatartcenter.org/category/dm15 

For the latest Designmatters news follow us on Twitter and Instagram  @DesignmattersCA

dm 15 impact