“My ultimate goal for each of my designs is to amplify a visitor’s connection to space, place and text by grounding the project in the needs of people.”
Why ArtCenter? Why Designmatters?
My experience at ArtCenter has opened many doors and surfaced possibilities for me that I would’ve not been able to do if I wasn’t at ArtCenter.
After researching other schools and talking with ArtCenter Alumni, it became very clear that ArtCenter was the best place for me to advance my skills and excel as a designer. I took an ArtCenter at Night class that focused on introducing Environmental Design methodologies and from that class, I knew Environmental Design was the program for which I wanted to apply.
The Designmatters Concentration is something that is very special to me. I remember when I sat through orientation and saw the Designmatters presentation — my eyes began to tear up and I thought to myself, I hope that I not only get to be a part of the wonderful work that Designmatters hosts, but also that I graduate with the Concentration. Three years later I have been able to do both. I believe that Concentration has and will provide me with opportunities to use design in impactful and meaningful ways.
Describe your design aesthetic. What makes your work unique?
My design aesthetic is highly focused around human-centered design. Through taking courses in both Environmental and Interaction Design Departments – as well as studios hosted by Designmatters – I’ve been able to utilize human-centered design principles to not only connect with the person I am designing for, but strengthen my strategy and approach to each project. These opportunities have helped me cultivate my point of view and my practice as a spatial user experience designer. My ultimate goal for each of my designs is to amplify a visitor’s connection to space, place and text by grounding the project in the needs of people.
What does social impact design mean to you? And why is it important to your overall design work?
Social impact design for me is highly important and deeply meaningful. I have always loved volunteer work because it has allowed me to get outside of myself, give back and empathize with others.
The reason I enjoy social impact design is because it allows me to connect and design for those in need, and create better systems and processes for users. Social impact design is important to the work I do because it is so human focused. Social impact design has also taught me a great deal of empathy and how the outcome to the design is not about me – but the people that will either be using the space, product or system.
Designmatters TDS courses, which have you taken? And what was the biggest takeaway from those experiences? Has your design process changed since participating in a TDS studio?
I have taken a number of TDS courses, as well as 3 study abroad experiences. My first study abroad was in Berlin, where I worked closely with an Interaction Design student, Nicholas Jayanty and a Graphic Design student, Christian Romo. I learned a lot from this experience, everything from new skill sets to how do you successful collaborate with others from different departments to produce the best project possible. Nicholas shared with us the value of research, strategy and the importance of connecting with the people for whom we were designing. Christian shared tools on how to build a brand and find a cohesive form language that we could all work from.In Summer 2015, I participated in Designmatters’ Eco Retreat Lab in Costa Rica where we were tasked with designing a remote vacation complex that would incorporate elements of biomimicry and sustainability. This experience taught me how a hospitality space could integrate the local community, while balancing a respect for the beauty and vastness of Costa Rica’s ecosystem.
Lastly, in Spring 2016, I participated in a Designmatters and Environmental Design-hosted studio, Safe Ninos, which took us to Santiago, Chile for two weeks of intensive field research. Our design brief was to create a holistic healing space for pediatric burn survivors either visiting or living at COANIQUEM, a nonprofit treatment facility that has treated over 80,000 pediatric burn cases across Latin America. We lived and worked closely with patients, staff, doctors, and families to better understand and design for their needs.
Through leveraging a variety of different design methodologies, we all worked together as a cohesive team because we knew that by gathering as many insights as possible would allow us to design in a very meaningful way. This was a very special project to me and a project that taught me a lot about myself and how to collaborate with others while building empathy with the COANIQUEM community.
Also in Spring 2016, I TA’d for Blue Hope, a Designmatters studio in collaboration with the Interaction Design department and the Aquarium of the Pacific. This studio challenged students to develop interactive exhibition designs for the Aquarium on the issue of marine defaunation – or animal extinction in the ocean. I have always had a deep emotional connection with the ocean, ever since I was 12 years old and my dad took me on my first diving trip. Scuba diving opened my eyes to the beautiful and vast world that lives beneath our ocean. The ocean is something I believe we need to respect so being a part of the class was very special to me.
One of the reasons I love ArtCenter is because we have the opportunity to not only participate in “real” projects but we have the opportunity to work with other students from different departments. I believe this is invaluable because it expands us as designers in a variety of different ways.
Besides your ArtCenter class work, have you been involved with any Social impact projects outside of the educational arena? If so, describe the work and how your social impact design education has helped you along the way.
I have not had the opportunity to participate in any social impact projects outside of the educational arena, but I have had the opportunity to give back to my community in a variety of ways. I was on student government where I held the position student concerns and department rep for Environmental Design. I have also been a student leader for multiple terms where we guide new students through orientation. Lastly, I participate in new student night where we share with the incoming class our portfolios, answer any questions or concerns they have and facilitate meeting our department chair and professors.
Safe Agua tackled the issue of water safety, The Uncool Project was about gun violence awareness, what other issues would you like see Designmatters’ classes address? What organizations do you think we should partner up with to provide a unique TDS experience?
I believe right now – especially here in Los Angeles – the Designmatters department has the opportunity to host a class where students tackle homelessness in Los Angeles. Maybe it isn’t about fixing the problem of homelessness, but they could potentially develop a system that could be expanded throughout many different cities that educates people about homelessness.
If you wanted to inspire a new ArtCenter student to become involved with Designmatters, what are the top 3 reasons you would give him or her?
1. You get to participate in projects that have real and lasting impact on othersakes you ask the difficult questions
2. You get to work alongside some very cool ArtCenter students and learn and grow with them
3. You have the ability to use design for the greater good and share the power of design with others
How do you imagine Designmatters impacting your career post-ArtCenter?
The Designmatters department has given me the ability to work on projects that I will always remember. Also, the Designmatters Concentration allows me to stay closely connected to the department and have the opportunity to continue to design for the greater good. Through these experiences it has made it clear to me that, I would love to continue my career in social impact design.
Any final thoughts about the Concentration, instructors, field trips, your overall ArtCenter experience, etc…?
I am graduating this term and I would like to thank the Designmatters department for bringing these opportunities to ArtCenter and for all my amazing facility and the students that have traveled through these experiences with me. I have learned and gained so much through working with them.
To learn more about Rachel and her work please visit. www.racheljmoore.com