Two tracks: Lab + Field
Preferred application deadline:
February 1, 2015
Art Center College of Design
950 South Raymond
Pasadena, CA 91105
A unique interdisciplinary design MFA
Media Design Practices/Lab+Field at Art Center is an interdisciplinary design MFA grounded in media and technology. The award-winning curriculum features two intentionally divergent tracks called Lab and Field.
Each track prepares students to work in emerging roles and contexts for design. The productive friction between the tracks leads to new ideas and approaches, as students take on complex problems from a mix of critical perspectives. Lab-track students use design to explore the cultural impact of new ideas from science, technology, and culture. Field-track students use design to tackle social issues in a global context.
The department is united by a commitment to inquiry through design, disciplinary and cultural hybridity, and a belief that critical reflection is at the core of an engaged design practice.
The curriculum provides immersive experiential learning through projects and knowledge partnerships distinct to each track. Coursework is punctuated by formal exchanges timed to maximize cross-pollination between tracks. The shared studio—a voluminous former supersonic jet-testing facility at the heart of Art Center’s south campus—provides casual, daily interaction amongst students. It is this intertwining that led a Core 77 Design Awards 2014 jury to call the program “the future of design education.”
In the Lab track, students work with emerging ideas from technology, science and culture using design as a mode of critical inquiry in a studio context. External partners—from CalTech scientists to Silicon Valley engineers to offbeat cultural institutions—bring expertise, resources, and the latest advances into the studio. Lab-track graduates are prepared to assume high performing roles in domains that are future-oriented and whose effects are far-reaching: information and communication technology, foresight units, industry R&D, scientific research labs, communication media, knowledge production, infrastructure and public policy, and entrepreneurial or independent practices.
In the Field track, students work in a global context where social issues, media infrastructure, and communication technology intersect. A collaboration with Designmatters, Art Center’s social impact initiative, the curriculum includes international fieldwork—in 2015–16, students will spend ten weeks working out of UNICEF’s Tech4Dev Innovation Lab in Kampala, Uganda. The cross-cultural field experience prepares Field-track graduates to play a leadership role in situations of extraordinary complexity, impacting the critical issues of our time, working directly with communities, organizations, institutions, non-profits, NGOs, development agencies, social enterprises, corporations or design consultancies.
Anne Burdick, designer, editor, critic
Elizabeth Chin, anthropologist
Sean Donahue, media designer, design researcher
Tim Durfee, architect, editor
Ben Hooker, media designer, media artist
Phil van Allen, interaction designer, technologist
Adjuncts and guest critics 2014–15
Christina Agapakis, David Hullfish Bailey, Amy Balkin, Jordan Bartee, Nicholas Bauch, Benjamin Bratton, Leonardo Bravo, Dean Buonomano, CamLab (Jemima Wyman and Anna Mayer), Jace Clayton, Elise Co, Christopher Fabian, Luke Fischbeck, Yolande Harris, Shannon Herbert, Robby Herbst, Adrian Hightower, Luke Johnson, Jason Kelly Johnson, Grant Kestor, Norman M. Klein, Jesse Kriss, Alan Koch, David Leonard, Fiamma Montezemolo, Jane McFadden, Metahaven (Daniel van der Velden and Vinca Kruk), Mike Milley, Chelina Odbert, Rene Peralta, Jen De Los Reyes, Dont Rhine, Jennifer Rider, Kati Rubinyi, Jose Sanchez, Tim Schwartz, Edward Shanken, Jaitip Srisomburananont, Arden Stern, John Szot, Sarah Williams, Richard Wheeler, Rosten Woo, Mimi Zeiger
Degree offered: Master of Fine Arts in Media Design
Core faculty: five
Adjunct thesis advisors: ten
Adjunct faculty: 18
Guest lecturers per year: 26+
January average highs/lows: 68º / 48º F
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Two tracks: Lab + Field