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The ArtCenter student designed, “Real Change Meter” installed outside of Fuller Seminary. The meter is part of a transmedia, public awareness campaign from the 2013 Designmatters “Real Change Movement” studio addressing homelessness in Pasadena in conjunction with city leaders.
Designmatters  students in class during the research and development phase of a 14 week design for social innovation project


Designmatters is the social innovation Department at ArtCenter College of Design that engages all majors taught at the College with a dynamic, entrepreneurial and experiential approach to design education. Designmatters serves as a vibrant hub for strategic collaborations near and far from ArtCenter’s campuses in Pasadena. For more than 15 years, the department has built a dynamic portfolio of innovative projects with social, public and private sector organizations that position artists and designers as agents of change, working towards an equitable, just and sustainable future for all.

Designmatters is at the helm of a diverse set of educational initiatives, special projects and publications that demonstrate the power of design for social innovation: an emergent field of design inquiry and practice that is oriented toward new possibilities for action and progress.  In 2002, Designmatters established the significant and pioneering affiliation of the College as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) with the United Nations, a first for an art and design school.  

The Department helps conceive three to five new transdisciplinary elective courses (the signature Designmatters projects) every academic term; manages the Designmatters Fellowship  program; oversees the Designmatters Minor for undergraduate students who choose to specialize in social impact design; and collaborates with graduate programs through research fellowships, labs and advisement.


Designmatters projects have a unique quality that emphasizes real-world, real-time educational experiences, with many student-designed outcomes moving beyond the walls of the studio classroom to implementation by our partners.  The four broad themes of Social Entrepreneurship, Public Policy, Global Healthcare and Sustainable Development provide key organizational lenses for the portfolio of projects and initiatives. Through these lenses, students and faculty encounter issues that require in-depth research into social topics, engagement with subject matter experts, thoughtful application of design methodologies and skillsets, and self-inquiry into one’s own position as a designer and citizen of our world.

To learn more about Designmatters, please visit their website.


Jennifer May, Executive Director, Designmatters Department

Jennifer May

Executive Director

Leigh Hoffman, Faculty Director, Designmatters Department

Leigh Hoffman

Kimberly Velazco, Program Manager, Designmatters Department

Kimberly Velazco

Garret Scullin, Senior Coordinator, Designmatters Department

Garret Scullin

Senior Coordinator

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