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Course Spotlight: Mixed Media & Collage for Designers & Artists

Ever wondered what students produce in the DCA elective Mixed Media and Collage for Designers and Artists?  Look no further than the gallery below!

In this course, you will discover creative approaches to problem solving while developing your own visual language using photocopies, drawing, found art, photography, matte and gel mediums, and gesso. Transfer techniques and digital output also are covered. You complete 3 portfolio pieces that are critiqued on clarity of communication and aesthetics.

As a former student put it, this course helps with conceptualization skills because it’s not focused on learning one particular technique, rather on taking an idea and tranlating it. And it’s fun.

Course Spotlight: Design Sustainability


For students looking to add depth to their coursework, we strongly suggest the elective  Design Sustainability.  In instructor Nurit Katz’s words:

“Designers are problem solvers. Whether you are designing homes, cities or products, you are finding ways to improve the world around you. However, if we are not thoughtful in our designs we may create new problems while solving others. Understanding the impact of our design choices helps us make better decisions, from understanding the full life cycle of a product and the materials we choose, to looking at the health impacts of the built environment.

In this course you will learn about sustainability and how to integrate the concepts of sustainability in design.  One example assignment will be taking apart a cheap product, looking at the materials used, and designing a life cycle info-graphic to illustrate the impacts of the materials.  In past quarters students have gone on field trips to view local sustainable business models, listened to guest speakers, and created final projects which ran the gamut from sustainable housing designs, rain harvesting systems, a “Do Good” app, and more!  You can check out photos from the winter quarter class’s final presentations below.



A previous student had this to say about the course: “Nurit is simply amazing. A great instructor and person as well. I’ve learned so much and had the incredible experience of meeting great colleagues as well.”

This summer quarter Design Sustainability is being team taught by Nurit and Michael Neal.  Save your spot in the course and enroll today!

Course Spotlight: Surface Design for Consumer Products

This summer, creative director and DCA instructor John Beach will guide students as they examine the role that style and surface play in consumer products, and how to design their own variety of surfaces for a range of products.  John took a moment to answer some key questions about Surface Design for Consumer Products:

Why is this course important for my design education?

Ultimately, it’s two fold. You learn and understand the structure and usability of a style guide, plus you will explore options in how to create your own content relevant to a target audience.  As designers, we are surrounded by style guides that dictate the fundamental usage of elements used to define brands, products and services. Often we are told how to use specific elements (for instance, the logo) to maintain that strict corporate image when creating beautifully designed packaging, or consumer products (anything that people purchase). More often, we are charged with creating these style guides so major brands will maintain a strong sense of continuity within the marketplace. We will look at how these style guides are built and utilized to control those steps.

What will I take away from this course?

This course is a hands on look at how to develop that style guide, for a product (or products) of  your choice. We will start by developing a concept for your line. Is it soft lines or hard lines? Is it textiles or paper goods? What is your target audience? Is it mass market or the luxury market? Each student will use a combined method of digital and hand built elements that will be turned into icons, badges and pattern work. You will be able to work in almost any medium you choose to generate your art (and then move into digital to complete the process).  We will then look at how to apply those patterns and art to a vast array of consumer products that form today’s modern marketplace.

In the end, you will walk away with a beautifully built style guide, based on your own art, showing a multitude of consumer products that could be built using your creativity. You will also understand, should you need in the future, how to use a corporate style guide to build most of the “every day” consumer products you see on the shelves of stores around you, whether that be Target, Crate and Barrel or Gucci, or your favorite local boutique.

Enroll in Surface Design for Consumer Products today!

Course Spotlight: Functional Problem Solving in Package Design


Award-winning instructor Henry Mateo has created a new elective this quarter: Functional Problem Solving in Package Design. Here he tells us a bit more:

Why is this course important for my design education?
This course will focus on pushing all your design skills (conceptual thinking, digital skills, production skills, etc…) beyond your current limits. Your projects will potentially be highlights of your portfolio.

What will I take away from this course?
You’ll understand real world processes that will help you be a well-rounded designer, not only in the packaging realm, but in several other design disciplines as well.

Do you have a sample exercise/assignment?
Yes, my Morpha project highlights portions of the process book.

Course Spotlight: HTML5 and CSS Layout for Designers

New this summer, the intermediate course  HTML5 and CSS Layout for Designers makes the perfect compliment to  Web Design I, II or III.  This course will present a variety of web layout challenges and develop the skills needed to successfully integrate your design across the many user platforms that access the web.  Instructor Mitch Gohman answered some questions for us:

How did the idea for this new course come about?

When students complete the Web Design 1: HTML & CSS course a very common response is “I feel like I really understand the world of Web Design, now I need to develop the muscles that address the common considerations of modern Web Design.” This class was specifically designed to build on the core concepts of the first class and take you deeper into the world of HTML & CSS as it applies to responsive web design (mobile to screen), scalable grid systems, and cross-browser testing.

Why is this course important for my design education? 

Responsive Design is cutting edge for the world of Web. Instead of designing 3 separate websites for mobile, notepad, and screen, Responsive Design, gives you one scalable/flexible solution that adapts to all devices–even devices/dimensions of the future.

 What will I take away from this course?

  • How to develop websites using responsive web design techniques (mobile to screen)
  • Advanced command of HTML5 (mark-up) & CSS3 (presentation)
  • Advanced layout conversion from Photoshop to your website
  • How to design for all browsers, even if you are developing from a Mac

Do you have a sample exercise/assignment?

Yes indeed…  HTML5 What You Should Know, which you can start in a plain text file.

Advanced Package Design Workshop

Coming up in just three weeks, Shirin Raban’s Advanced Package Design: Concept to Completion is an intensive 2-day course that will cover a range of contemporary consumer packaging practices and methods.

This hands-on workshop is open to all design students, and you don’t need previous packaging experience or courses to attend.

Advanced Packaging Design will provide the opportunity to create a branding portfolio piece consisting of three items. The workshop includes a comprehensive overview of the package design process from concept to completion through audio visual lectures, a field trip to Whole Foods, group exercises in defining objectives, critique, individual sketches and computer design that will then be transformed into real, 3D packages through production and mock up processes demonstrated and practiced in class.

Advanced Package Design is taking place over two Saturdays, May 12th & 19th from 9am to 5pm.  Please click here to enroll.

Course Spotlight: HTML5 with Michael Newman

Why is this course important for my design education?

HTML5 is the evolving future of web development and the APIs and technologies available are shaping how designers create visual, interactive solutions. In addition to exciting new functionality, such as Canvas, Offline Storage, and Geo-Location, HTML5 provides semantic elements and attributes which, together with CSS3 and media queries, allow for responsive web design and development.

It is important for designers to have the ability to prototype and experiment with HTML5, CSS3 and Javascript – The more a designer understands the technologies for which they’re creating, the more innovative and creative their solutions will be.

What will I take away from this course?

Students will complete the course with hands-on experience working with HTML5 and CSS3 as well as the ability to design prototypes and build responsive web and mobile experiences.

Do you have a sample exercise/assignment?

Read the O’Reilly “What is HTML5” overview at http://radar.oreilly.com/2011/07/what-is-html5.html

In addition to weekly assignments and projects, students will design and build a portfolio-worthy final project.


HTML5 is currently being offered in the classroom (spring quarter 2012) and, in fall quarter, will be offered online. Don’t hesitate to call the office for more information 310.206.1422 or email dca@uclaextension.edu.

Art in Pasadena with Jay Belloli

This week we have a great opportunity for students to learn about the history and impact of the Pasadena Art Museum. With the acceptance of the extensive Galka Scheyer collection of Feininger, Kandinsky, Klee, and Jawlensky in 1954, the Pasadena Art Museum began 20 years of extraordinary exhibitions and collecting, made possible by exceptional directors and curators. From the internationally celebrated retrospective of Marcel Duchamp to the first Andy Warhol retrospective and beyond, the museum made major contributions to the cultural life of the Los Angeles region.

Pacific Asia Museum’s exhibion 46 N. Los Robles: A History of the Pasadena Art Museum is closing this weekend. On Thursday, 4/5, guest curator Jay Belloli will give a lecture and slide show on the Pasadena Art Museum in our 1010 Westwood Center. Then this Saturday, students will visit both Pacific Asia Museum and the Norton Simon to view works up close and meet one of the participating artists. It should be a fun and informative session for anyone interested in the history of the Los Angeles art scene.

For more details, and to enroll in the class, click here.

It’s All About the End User


Recently, instructor Zelda Harrison shared some great insight into her upcoming course, Designing for Humans: Culture and AnthroDesign (Online).

Below, she shares more insight into this course and this highly relevant aspect of design:

As a practising or aspiring professional in Design & Media you’ve probably heard comments like this before:

“it’s no longer about designing artifacts, it’s about designing experiences”

“branding is dead, it’s just not enough to have a cool logo, packaging or website anymore”

“we’re transitioning into a ‘relationship’ economy…”

Whatever you feel about the ongoing debate about where we’re headed, one thing seems to be clear to everyone: successful design is very much about the End User. For the End User, with the End User and sometimes by the End User.

What this means to you as a Communications professional is that it’s time to upgrade your toolkit. After all, you have (or will) invested a lot of time, effort and talent into ensuring computer proficiency, craftsmanship, and a critical eye. Like any good solder, you’ve enlisted in a life-long battle to keep your creative juices flowing. But how exactly do you figure out this End User?

Not that the “target audience”, “consumer”, “client” didn’t matter before. She–and for the most of modern marketing, the target has been female–has always been part of the script. Communication, messaging, branding and packaging were all destined to make her feel empowered and comfortable in her choice of products and services. But there was always a vague sense of who exactly “She” was….In the days of Don Draper, skilled advertising execs and shrewd observers of human nature were paid top dollar for relying on their guts. Later, with the influx of technology, the use of bar codes and behavorial studies, Quantitative Data analyses and Focus Groups helped define creative briefs. The more creative and savvy amongst us used this information to develop ideas about lifestyle, create “personas” and archetypes.

Here’s the rub: there is a growing sense that these tools are outliving their usefulness in a post-consumer economy. In light of the increasing complexity of communities, demographic shifts, the astronomical changes in media and their effect on human motivation, heavy reliance on instinct and surveys could be a dangerous thing. What marketers have long feared just might be coming true: that the “average user” or “typical consumer” might be extinct or, worse still, was just a myth.

Today’s successful companies and service providers are astutely observing that it is no longer viable to develop a product or service at considerable cost and based on the organization’s perception of the market. They understand that it is not enough to “sense” the consumer’s needs, or to “survey” the consumer (oh sorry, I mean End User, and you’ll see why in a moment). You need to get under their skin.

To re-hash the classic example of best practices in product development supported by insightful marketing, let’s think about Apple. Apple took a product that had existed for seven odd decades –the telephone — and created a revolutionary product. The iphone was an overnight sensation not based on features of varying levels of speed, computing accuracy, mobility or even design –anyone remember the Razr and Chocolate? – Apple understood the need to have a product that melded seamlessly with the End User’s needs and lifestyle. Apple commercials and communication rarely talked about the phone after the initial (educational) pitches, it was always about you, how your life was made simple, how you got the things you needed to get done. The staying-connected, being-entertained, finding-your-way-aroundtown, getting-something-to-eat, photo-album all rolled into one. In fact, the iphone is so much a part of my life that when a friend pointed out that the iphone was first launch in 2006, I was astonished.

So as a designer on a team of marketing, branding and/or product professionals you add value as the one who translates marketing/creative brief into reality. Designers are valued for their “empathy”, the expectation that they are naturally in tune with the needs, and lifestyle of the End User. You are expected to walk in the End User’s shoes, to get under their skin. How? This is where the concept of the “AnthroDesigner” emerges. The AnthroDesigner seeks informed understanding of the End User through anthropological observation.

The AnthroDesigner skills include:

conducting user research

evaluating people’s thinking and behavior in the context of their cultural structures

assessing their value system

The AnthroDesigner uses this information to create prototype for products, systems or communication as well as the creative brief.

This Spring, UCLA Extension invites you to explore the power of Anthropology + Design with the course Designing for Humans: Culture and AnthroDesign (Online). It starts on Thursday, April 5, 2012 and promises to be a fascinating 12-week study of diverse cultural systems, the role of environment on branding and communication, and the current evolution of audiences. The course not just for designers and visual communicators: Architects, Engineers, Social workers, Branding strategists and other marketing professionals are very welcome, in fact a multi-disciplinary environment is key to AnthroDesign. Being familiar with creative software packages, experience with sketching and building prototypes will be helpful in fulfilling class assignments.

For more information, please contact UCLA Extension at (310) 825-9971 or (818) 784-7006 or email the instructor Zelda Harrison at zelda@centercrosscultural.org .

Join us and have fun designing for humans!

Course Spotlight: Your Idea as Innovative Solution

If, like me, you hear “strategic thinking” a lot, but you’re not quite sure how to show you’re good at it, the upcoming class Your Idea as Innovative Solution may be for you.

Instructor Scott Hindell is a favorite of many, and can guide you in your approach to some of design’s most difficult problems. Here is what other students have had to say about him in this course:

Very helpful in designing and presenting innovation from different points of view.

Very passionate and knowledgeable. He is a great teacher.

Scott tackled our now-famous “course spotlight” questions:

Why is this course important for my design education?

We are hearing a lot about innovation these days, but most of it sounds like a race for bigger, better, faster, cheaper. A walk down the aisle at WalMart shows us what that gets us. Incremental improvements aren’t what businesses need. They are looking for quantum leaps in value, and research is telling us designers are the best people to lead us where we need to go. Designers are turned on by new ideas, the unknown, the unconventional. They like to produce the unexpected. Unfortunately, designers aren’t always the best equipped to deal easily with their ideas.

What will I take away from this course?

The real opportunity is to combine your design talent with the art of persuasion. It’s not as difficult as one might assume. Most think you must become an advocate for your idea, which means committing to a tireless defense of that idea. Surprisingly, it’s not that difficult, it just requires a little bit of strategic thinking.

Do you have a sample exercise/assignment?

Yes! Exercise – Students are directed to choose one of the three following research methods to observe Starbucks users:

Choice #1 (Narration) – Ask one user to describe aloud what they are thinking during a complete visit to Starbucks. Then submit a description of the most notable observations.
Choice #2 (Still-Photo Survey) – Capture a series of pictures of specific objects, activities, etc. during a complete visit to Starbucks. Then submit these with descriptive titles and/or captions.
Choice #3 (Surveys & Questionnaires) – Ask at least 3 Starbucks users a series of targeted questions in order to ascertain particular characteristics and perceptions of users. Then submit a summary of the most notable findings.

The primary goal of the exercise is to help students develop good observation skills, and most importantly, empathy for people’s differences.

When this course was offered last, I sat in the night this assignment was reviewed. It was way more illuminating than you may expect! The photo documentation and presentation was also engaging. It led to a great conversation about branding and personas.

This course credits as an elective in the Global Sustainability Certificate, as well as the DCA Certificates. If you want to see the syllabus or ask Scott a few questions, just let us know.

And register anytime by following this link.


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