Serious Play Studios

For the first time ever, the Conference featured hands-on studios for all attendees—a rare opportunity to learn directly from the Conference speakers, Art Center faculty, and top design practitioners. 

DesignStorm: Improvisational
Product Design

Igor Burt
Art Center faculty, Product Design

A non-stop design marathon. Participants will create a compelling collection of products using found materials, and then produce and install a dynamic exhibition at the Conference. Come prepared for gloves-off experimentation and high-intensity creativity with one of Art Center’s most inspiring faculty. Burt has created products for Mattel, Adidas and Seismic Skateboards, and has exhibited his work at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Silkscreen Studio

Tony Zepeda
master printer and Director,
Art Center Printmaking Lab

Learn basic silkscreen techniques in Art Center’s state-of-the-art printmaking studio, playing with inks, placement, and images. Master printer Tony Zepeda, formerly of Gemini G.E.L., has worked with internationally renowned artists including Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein and David Hockney, among others.

Writing What You
Don’t Know

Irene Borger
Director, Alpert Award in the Arts

Working with a master teacher, learn several important creative writing techniques, write a short piece that surprises you and leave with tools for continuing to write. Experience “beginner’s mind,” a state of open awareness that blunts the inner critic, generating playful inquiry and creative work. A journalist, interviewer and educator, Borger was the first writer-in-residence at AIDS Project Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in many publications, including Architectural Digest, BOMB, and The Wall Street Journal.

Ready for My Closeup: Acting Studio

Natalija Nogulich
Art Center faculty, Film

If you’ve never been in an acting studio, this one’s for you. Learn basic exercises and techniques taught by directors to actors, and how to perform and improvise with freedom and confidence. Join the fun with actress, award-winning director and playwright Natalija Nogulich. By the end, you’ll perform a scene of your own creation (memorization not required - !).

Alphabet City: Letterpress Studio

Gloria Kondrup
Art Center faculty and Director, Archetype Press

See language as image and form. Enjoy a hands-on, experimental typographic letterpress workshop at Art Center’s Archetype Press - fast, furious and out-of-control (almost), using wood type, rules and texture. Professor Kondrup has won numerous awards for her letterpress books, and is in private and public collections including The Getty, The Smithsonian, and Harvard and Stanford University. Archetype Press houses California’s largest collection of rare wood type, metal foundry type and ornaments, and is the largest design school-based letterpress in the country.

Idol Maker: Collage
as Portraiture

Ann Field
chair, Illustration Department,
Art Center

Come to a portrait-making session that alters your perceptions of what a portrait can be. Using collage techniques and everyday materials, create a spontaneous portrait under the direction of Ann Field, whose name has been synonymous with contemporary illustration and award-winning, innovative images for over 20 years.

Explain Yourself: Learn to Draw What You Know

David Macaulay
Serious Play speaker,
master illustrator, author

What are the challenges of explaining what we think we know? Join David Macaulay in a fully immersive studio to learn how to explain familiar concepts visually. Expect your communication skills to be fully engaged. No drawing experience necessary.

Transforming Light: Lighting Design

Dan Gottlieb & Penny Herscovitch
Art Center faculty, Environmental Design

Open your eyes to the power and poetics of light. Using paper, scrap acrylic, mirror and other simple supplies, participants will invent a range of lighting solutions. Some elements will be inspired by the work of Conference speaker Robert Lang. Known for their lighting and environmental design, Gottlieb and Herscovitch have recently won the Nuckolis Fund for Lighting Education grant, and their work has been shown at the Center for Architecture in New York City and NeoCon West.

Playing Seriously: Airport Security

Tim Brown, Neil Stevenson,
Sandy Speicher, IDEO; and
Bruce Nussbaum, BusinessWeek

Apply concepts of play to a truly serious design problem. Through prototyping and role play, create new solutions for that most hair-tearing of experiences, getting though airport security. Get direct hands-on immersion into ideas that Tim Brown presents in his Conference keynote talk. With the IDEO team and Bruce Nussbaum, you’ll see that just because the problem is tough doesn’t mean you can’t have fun devising a solution.

Splat! Boom! Pow! Comic Strip Illustration

Jeff McMillan
Art Center faculty, Illustration

Create a series of urban characters (super-heroes, anyone?) and bring them to life in a super-sized comic strip. Explore figure invention, page layout, basic rules of perspective, and story telling. Artist and illustrator Jeff McMillan, whose work has appeared in publications from Elle to Esquire, will guide you step by step.

Nuts to Butter: a Sustainable Design Exercise

Heidrun Mumper-Drumm
Art Center faculty, Humanities + Design Sciences, Graphic Design

The goal of design is expanding: An emphasis on sustainable design is producing new rules, new methods, and new strategies for the way designers work. This studio will focus on a simplified but completely serious exploration of lifecycle design. Participants will be inspired to create sustainable design solutions from lifecycle material and energy flows. A designer and environmental engineer, Mumper-Drumm teaches Design for Sustainability at Art Center, and is Co-Director of the Art Center Sustainability Summits.


Jacqueline Lloyd Smith, certified partner with LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY™

This hands-on studio will introduce you to new ways of using your imagination, creativity, and logic in devising solutions to complex problems in business and other arenas. Using three-dimensional thinking, you will construct metaphors out of LEGO® bricks describing real situations that you face, leading you to options and possible solutions that can be implemented immediately without entrapment in theoretical roundabouts. Smith facilitates sessions throughout North America that teach people how to use play to become more effective at work and in daily life. She has an MA in Conflict Analysis and Management and an MBA in Management Consulting. Her company, Lloyd Smith Solutions, is dedicated to helping people use creativity and play to lower resistance to change and maximize their potential.


Make a Map of Your Life

Paula Scher
Serious Play speaker, designer, artist Sean Adams, designer and Art Center faculty, Foundation Studies

Paula Scher is known for her fantastical map paintings that make sense of the world. In this studio, participants will be challenged to make a map—allegorical, metaphorical—of their own lives. No drawing experience necessary. Scher is a partner in the New York office of Pentagram. Sean Adams is a partner at AdamsMorioka and AIGA National President.