: Art Center College of Design : Taking the mystery out of transferring: What interior design program is best for you?

For an introduction to this series of articles please refer to : Taking the mystery out of transferring : What interior design program is best for you?http://iteachid.net/2018/01/23/taking-the-mystery-out-of-transferring-what-interior-design-program-is-best-for-you/

I spent a wonderful two and a half hours at Art Center College of Design. I met with David Mocarski, department chair for both the graduate and undergraduate Environmental Design programs. Both programs are truly exciting and have a unique perspective on what interior design is. The Art Center program is titled Environmental Design because they pride themselves on achieving a holistic space that is cohesive from the big picture all the way to its minute details. Each project develops the spatial experience using form, structure, furniture, materiality, graphics, logo design, topography and wayfinding. Art Center also prides itself on giving students the top of the line facilities and technologies.

Art Center College of Design

Location: Pasadena, CA

Program Title: Environmental Design

Department Chair: David Mocarski, department chair, graduate and undergraduate Environmental Design

Director of Recruitment: David Salow, divid.salow@artcenter.edu, 626 396-2324

Degree: Bachelor of Science

Program Length: 4 yr., Mt SAC transfer student 2 ½ years based on portfolio

Website: http://www.artcenter.edu/academics/undergraduate-degrees/environmental-design/overview.html

How is Art Center’s program different than others?

Art Center employs a 3D approach to teaching very early in the program. During the 2nd term students begin creating digital wire frames of their designs. David has noticed that walking though the perceived spaces gives students a more tangible understanding of what a space will look and feel like three-dimensionally.

Students very early on are learning how to tell their “design story” a term used at Art Center that is similar to the idea of concept. The design story defines what the user of the space experiences. As the story is told it emphasizes how the elements used support the design story. So what we understand as “concept” becomes an expanded idea. The story weaves together the big picture, the experience the user will have as they move though the space, and hopefully engages the audience and sells the project.

David acknowledged that “the creative process is a messy one, there’s always risk involved. The question is how do you work through that? Thoughtful innovation is never born out of comfort, it is a period of discovery.” Students at Art Center are allowed to be free in how they solve problems and tell their design stories. Filters or program such as budget, location, and cultural influence are given to students midway through a project.

One aspect of Art Center I truly appreciate is that the academic classes are customized to support your field of study. For example a Branding Strategies class would be considered general education and works in conjunction with your Portfolio Development class. History & Theory of Space: Looking Back includes the evolution of lighting, which directly aids students in Illumination: Lighting where they apply that knowledge to fixture design. In 5th year studio students are allowed to find their personal voice. Projects can vary from specific items like furniture or lighting or to broad ideas like hospitality.

Arts Center is distinctive because it combines all facets of design. Some schools may specialize more in theory, others in production, Art Center synthesizes both theory and production and prides itself in staying on par with the industry to ensure they are producing marketable students. They are unapologetically industry driven.

Are Mt SAC Students transferring well prepared?

David has reviewed several Mt SAC student portfolios and was quite impressed with the quality of the work. The one concern we both have is that Rhino and Solidworks are the primary 3D and rendering programs used throughout the program. They are learned and used in the first four terms of the program. I would suggest prior to starting Art Center you take classes in Rhino so that you are not falling behind. There are a few options to achieve this. There is an Intro to Rhino at Art Center’s night program, or you could start at Art Center a semester prior to starting full time. In addition there are online options like Linda.com that host Rhino Training and Tutorials.

Linda.com: https://www.lynda.com/Rhino-training-tutorials/302-0.html

Art Center at Night: https://www.artcenter.edu/acn/portfolio.jsp

 Is there a portfolio required?

Yup! Applicants will be considered for their design concepts, as well as basic drawing and model-making skills. All of your work will be reviewed to ensure that it is up to standard. Even if you have a top notch portfolio I would recommend starting in the 3rd or 4th term in the 2nd year. Even if you have completed our program this will give you time to comfortably assimilate into the culture, pick up the 3D classes, and the hands-on technical skills that are taught very early on. This strategy will leave you with 2 ½- 3 years at Art Center.


What classes transfer?

Studio art credit is awarded based on a combination of portfolio work and prior college credit. It is never awarded solely on a listing of courses on a transcript. There is not an official transfer agreement with Arts Center, transfer is based solely on portfolio. David was impressed with the student portfolio work from Mt SAC that he has seen over the last year and gets the sense that our students would be very successful transferring into the 4th term, giving them 2 ½ more years to complete the program if they gained Rhino experience.

 What’s the studio environment like?

The campus is extremely beautiful and well maintained. The corridors are mostly concrete with all the structures and supports showing. The studios are simple open spaces that remain open 24 hours and students have created dividers for privacy. There are no cushy chairs only metal stools and projects are pinned up for presentation or laid out on the floor for group work. The graduate environment is slightly cushier. They have their own wing of the building right underneath the undergraduates, and the corridor is lined with projects. They have their own 3D imaging lab and a materials library.


Where are students getting hired?

Internship placement was describe as “custom dating!” I love that! You’re asked as you progress through the program: what is your heart’s desire? Who are the designers or architects you admire? What firms are doing the kind of work that inspires you, no matter where they are in the world? Once it is time for you to begin an internship, you are posed with five questions; where do you want to go, what defines your design style, where do you want to work in the world, what do we need in your portfolio to achieve that? Art Center assists you in developing a portfolio to achieve your desires, and assists in helping you find your dream firm no matter where they are in world. Because they are so well connected and known globally the sky is the limit. Typically six weeks after graduation all Art Center graduates have been hired.


Market Trends

David has noticed a trend that firms are now hiring what he has dubbed “turnkey students.” Traditionally an entry level designer would start in a very low level position and very gradually work their way up, learning as they go. This seems to no longer be the case, and has become a game changer in the industry. A turnkey student is defined as someone who can hit the ground running, jump in to a higher level position, have a very clear professional voice and be effective immediately. The better prepared the students are the more successful they will be.

Opportunity Seeking in a Shrinking World: David Mocarski at TEDxSoCal

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