Media Design Practices

Media Design Practices (MDP) is an interdisciplinary design MFA preparing designers for our new now.

Ours is a time of constant change: technological transformations, global inequity, and environmental uncertainty. This world demands new design practices. Designers today must be daring, critical, and engaged in their communities. Are you ready?

With a grounding in creative technology, experimental making, and social action, MDP graduates are unafraid to use design to question the present. Join our MFA program and get new skills — prototyping and research, futuring and fieldwork — to shape your design practice and envision new futures. 

Work closely with faculty known for cutting-edge research and multidisciplinary expertise. Investigate emerging media, develop new methodologies, engage with diverse cultures, and surprise yourself by making things the likes of which you have never seen before.

Join our alumni who go on to become design leaders in every conceivable field: major technology firms, innovative nonprofit organizations, and independent design practices.

Our approach to learning is project-based, meaning students engage in multi-layered challenges with hands-on design activity from the moment they arrive.

The projects are crafted by the program’s core faculty, informed by their own cutting-edge research and influenced by global events and recent developments in science and culture.

Students learn to shift modes quickly, whether they are working in the studio or doing fieldwork in an international locale. In a typical week, a student might move from building a working prototype — to meeting with a research scientist — to testing in a participant's home — to leading a community workshop — to salvaging electronics — to editing a short video.

Coursework is designed to expose students to a range of creative and technological practices and might include collaborative and day-long studio charrettes, experimental writing assignments, guest lectures, and critiques.

But the emphasis is always on design and supporting each student as they develop their own unique point-of-view. By the time they graduate, each student will have channeled their conviction, energy, and skills into a design practice uniquely suited to the challenges that lie ahead. Upon graduation, they join an extended network of industry contacts, potential collaborators, and fellow travellers.

Students can apply for either a two-year or three-year course of study.

MDP selects applicants for the two-year option who are designers with exceptional training and experience in the visual, spatial, interactive and graphic design fields, and who can realize high-level concepts with skill in visual communication and interactive design.

For three-year applicants, we accept both accomplished and burgeoning designers from a broad range of backgrounds who bring valuable perspectives to the practice of design. The Development Year provides a design curriculum that prepares applicants to integrate past experience into a design approach that is fully realized in their concept year and thesis work.

2018-19 Curriculum Overview PDF
2018-19 3-Year (Development Year) PDF 
2018-19 2-year (Concept) Curriculum PDF

MDP faculty harken from the fields of media design, anthropology, art, film, architecture, cultural theory, computer science, interaction design, product design, robotics, cultural analytics, and more.

Our core faculty are not only award-winning experts in their fields, they are innovative educators: they provide students with the right mix of structure and open-endedness to push their work in new directions.

Our adjunct faculty are drawn largely from Southern California’s exciting cultural and scientific communities. But we also have faculty from around the world who teach remotely or during intensive visits. The Wind Tunnel Graduate Center for Critical Practice brings a constant flow of leading thinkers into direct contact with students, from corporate trendsetters to art world outliers.

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Department Chair

Maggie Hendrie
Maggie is a user experience pioneer with more than 20 years of experience in new interactive product/service strategy, digital product design, project management, user-centered design, and usability and user experience testing. In 2004, she founded Sony Pictures Entertainment’s User Experience Competency Center and, as director, was responsible for working with divisions worldwide to integrate usability, information architecture and interaction into Sony devices and cross-platform projects. Prior, she was creative director for user experience at Whittman-Hart/MarchFirst, director of client solutions at Caresoft, strategy director at Manifest Digital and senior user interface designer at CyberMedia.

She is the principal of Maggie Hendrie Design, a cross-channel business and service solution firm providing mobile and web apps, social media campaigns and consumer-facing online tools for various companies, including venture capital investors, managements consultancies, autonomous automotive and multiple verticals. She received her MA in liberal arts from the University of Edinburgh, her MS in communication and information sciences from the Sorbonne Nouvelle University and her DEA in multimedia design and communication from the University of Paris VIII.

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Core Faculty

Dr. Elizabeth Chin is an anthropologist whose research interests include children and childhood; consumption; dance; race; urban geography; Haiti. She approaches these from an ecumenical theoretical perspective, grounded in political economy, critical theory and a good dose of literary, artistic and post modern influences. PhD, Anthropology, City University of New York; BFA, Drama and Anthropology, NYU. labofspeculativeethnology.tumblr.com

Sean Donahue is principal of Research-Centered Design, a Los Angeles-based design practice that explores how design can be utilized to make significant contributions to society. MFA, Media Design, Art Center College of Design; BA, Graphic Design, Indiana University of Pennsylvania.researchcentereddesign.com

Tim Durfee's interdisciplinary architecture studio is based in Los Angeles. He has won awards for architecture, exhibitions, media design, installation, furniture, and poetry. Current projects include a large suspended artwork for the Los Angeles Police Department, the forthcoming book Made Up: Design's Fictions, and a computer game / urban simulation with Ben Hooker examining a world with drones, self-driving cars, and moving houses. MArch, Yale University; BA, Literature, History, University of Rochester TimDurfee.com

Ben Hooker collaborates with architects, industrial designers and computer scientists working in the field of human-computer interaction and has a background in screen-based multimedia design. Hooker was formerly visiting faculty at Intel Research in Berkeley and taught at Central Saint Martins College and the Royal College of Art, London. MA, computer-related design, Royal College of Art; BS, electronic imaging and media communications, University of Bradford. benhooker.comhookerandkitchen.com

Phil van Allen is an interaction designer whose work ranges from the practical to the speculative. In his research, he is exploring animistic design as a new approach for interaction in the ecosystems created by the Internet of Things. He also is the creator of NTK (netlabtoolkit.org), an open source toolkit that makes designing and building working IoT projects simpler and faster. In addition to teaching, van Allen writes about interaction design and is a consultant for industry. In the past, he's been a recording engineer, software developer, entrepreneur, and researcher. BA, Experimental Psychology/Cognitive Science, University of California, Santa Cruz, philvanallen.com

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Advisors and Adjuncts

Anne Burdick is a regular participant in the international dialogue regarding the future of graduate education and research in design. She designs experimental text projects in diverse media and participates in the nascent field of the Digital Humanities. BFA, MFA, graphic design, California Institute of the Arts. micromegameta.net

Elise Co is a media artist and founding partner of Aeolab, a design and technology consulting firm in Los Angeles. Co holds an M.S. in media arts and sciences and a B.S. in architecture from MIT. Previously, she taught courses in interaction design and physical computing at the Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst in Basel, Switzerland. Her work has been shown internationally, including at MoMA, SIGGRAPH and IMRF Tokyo. aeolab.com

Claire L Evans is a writer, musician, and artist working in Los Angeles. Her day job is as the singer and coauthor of the pop group YACHT. She is currently “futures editor” of Motherboard and editor of its sister science-fiction magazine, Terraform; she edits science fiction and publishes editorials about science, design, technology, and feminism. She is a contributor to Grantland, VICE, The Guardian, and uncube magazine, and her writing has been extensively anthologized. She is the co-author of New Art/Science Affinities, a book about contemporary artists working at the intersection of science and technology, and the author of High Frontiers, a collection of essays. clairelevans.com

Norman Klein is a cultural critic, media historian and novelist. He is the author of The Vatican to Vegas: The History of Special Effects; The History of Forgetting: Los Angeles and the Erasure of Memory; and The Imaginary Twentieth Century, a science-fiction database novel and exhibition which ran at ZKM in Karlsruhe, Germany. Klein is a professor at CalArts, has taught as adjunct faculty at Art Center since 1982 and is now also a thesis advisor for the Media Design Program.imaginarytwentiethcentury.com

Jesse Kriss is a software developer and designer specializing in the areas of information visualization, human-computer interaction, web development, and collaborative systems. He has worked on a wide range of projects, from the web-based Many Eyes collaborative visualization platform to an art installation at the San Jose International Airport involving live fish and computer vision, to the technology team for the Obama reelection campaign. At NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Jesse contributes to the research and design process, advises on technical architecture for web platforms, and develops advanced user interfaces.

Michael Manalo is an Information Architect specializing in GIS-based intelligence and civic innovation for government and community outreach projects. Notable civic projects include: People St (peoplest.lacity.org) and LAB at DCA (dcaredesign.org/lab)- a city staff incubator for digital literacy and innovative practices. His work is recognized by American Planning Association, Southern California Association of Governments, ESRI, KCET, and Fast Company''s Innovation by Design Awards.      

Mike Milley is a Design Strategist who can’t stop asking “what’s next?” He is the founder of The New Next, a creative agency that helps organizations find the future--and make it work for them. Previously, he was the Director of Foresight & Innovation at BMW’s Designworks studio in Los Angeles where he led a cross-disciplinary team that brought foresight to life at the intersection of Research, Strategy, and Advanced Design. Before that, Mike founded Samsung’s Global Lifestyle Research Lab, a forward-looking think tank and concept incubator in Silicon Valley. He's also worked at Nike, and designed the first issue of NYLON Magazine. Mike is a graduate of Columbia University and Parsons School of Design, and thinks that the worst thing about being a Futurist is being tired of something that hasn’t even happened yet. www.thenewnext.net

Kate Parsons is a video artist and educator living in Los Angeles. She obtained her M.F.A. in Media Arts from UCLA in 2015 and an M.A. in Digital Art and Video in 2013. She is the co-founder of FLOAT, VR/AR art studio, and the co-founder and Director of Femmebit, a video art festival celebrating Los Angeles female artists working in video and new media. Her work has shown at SFMOMA, Art Toronto, TIFF, and SXSW, and been featured in the LA Times, Flaunt, Art News, and Hyperallergic, among others. kateparsons.tv

Jenny Rodenhouse is an artist and interaction designer. Her work investigates the digitizing of natural environments, the merging of technology and the landscape, and the digital interface as humanity’s new natural habitat. Appropriating the 'test site' as a platform, she creates sites of experimentation to prototype alternates—the other possible realities and cultural choices we have as we develop our technological futures. Through her conceptual and applied design practice, she collaborates with companies, startups, computer scientists, designers, architects, and artists. jennyrodenhouse.com

Jennifer Rider focuses on the design of print and screen-based media for the arts and cultural sector. Her recent collaborations include exhibition catalogues and web sites for several Pacific Standard Time exhibitions, The Edible Schoolyard Project, LACMA and MoCA. Jennifer holds an MFA in Graphic Design from California Institute of the Arts and a Bachelor’s in Art from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Her work has received multiple awards and has been recognized by the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA). www.jenniferrider.com

Maxim Safioulline is an interactive developer and a creative technologist, a hacker and a tinkerer. He builds websites, applications and other interactive experiences. He am especially interested in the new media and the emerging interfaces for human-computer interaction. Maxim earned a MFA from Parsons and a BA  from Linguistics University of Nizhny Novgorod. connectedcatmedia.com/maxim

Theo Triantafyllidis is an artist who was born in 1988. Theo Triantafyllidis has had several gallery and museum exhibitions, including at the NRW-Forum Kultur und Wirtschaft and at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art. There have been many articles about Theo Triantafyllidis, including 'Hot on Digital Art’s trail in Venice' written by Tina Sauerlaender for Arte Fuse in 2017. slimetech.org

Richard Wheeler is an artist, designer, and technologist. He has written on technology, security, and privacy for "The Daily Beast" and "Wired." And as a consultant he is a product adviser for early-stage investment technology companies, work ranges in scope from strategic guidance to founders and C-level management, to operational guidance on specific product development efforts, to hands-on development. He previously worked as a consultant to the Department of Defense and as an analyst with the United States Army. Prior to his work in defense Wheeler worked for over a decade in design, working in museums, publishing, and finally as a fashion designer for companies such as Ann Taylor and Calvin Klein. Wheeler holds an M.F.A. in Design Media Arts from UCLA, an M.A. in Security Studies from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, and a B.A. in Fine Art and History from Hunter College, CUNY. Surprisingly, he is not 80 years old.richardwheeler.com

Mimi Zeiger is editor and publisher of loud paper, a zine and blog dedicated to increasing the volume of architectural discourse. She is a founding member of #lgnlgn, a think tank on architecture and publishing. The group's work has been shown at Urban Design Week, the New Museum, Storefront for Art and Architecture, pinkcomma gallery, and the AA School. She holds a Master of Architecture degree from SCI-Arc and a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Cornell University. loudpapermag.com

We encourage applicants from diverse backgrounds and cultures. (We offer a 2-year and 3-year degree.) Our students come to us from the worlds of interaction design, product design, fine arts, film, liberal arts, computer science, architecture, engineering, and more.

Each MDP student maintains a website documenting their grad school experience. To find out what they are making, reading, discussing, and obsessing about, use the links below to take a look. You can also visit the student-curated MDP Gallery on Cargo Collective to see what the students appreciate most about one another’s work.

MDP 2020
David Chan
Maxwell Chen
Adit Dhanushkodi
Julia Echevarria
Viola Jianan Fu
Karina Hernandez
Miranda Mengyuan Jin
Mina Lee
Hyejin Lim
Jarret Lin
Jerry Ma
Ruotong Shen
Jom Sirimongkolkasem
Tongxin Sun
Tianlu Tang

MDP 2021
Amor Bizarro
Aishwarya Janwadkar    
Martin Bernard
Ray Rui Cao
Anthony Espino    
Murray Qihang Fan    
Stella Sizhe Huang    
Maya Friedman
Keda Jiang
Keisuke Kuniyoshi
Soojin Lee   
Yuwen Lin
Berna Onat
An Pan
Evan Stalker
Rachel Rose Waterhouse    
Jingyi Wang    
Meredith Yihe Xu
Alana Yiran Zhang    

MDP 2022
Aaron Aguayo
Elaine Purnama    
Jou Jiahui Yu        
Nanyi Jiang    
Tao Liu    
Tingyi Li  
Jeremy Yijie Chen        
Iris Yuanyuan Gong        
Mavis Yue Cao        
Jooga Zhujia Dong        
Melody Ziru Ling    

Our graduates have the agility and skills to bring design to diverse situations, from scientific research labs to futurist think tanks, from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and nonprofits to leading corporations and design studios. Visit our Alumni site to learn more.

Here are a few of the titles that our alumni currently hold:

  • Associate Professor, Interaction Design
  • Blogger and Author
  • Community Design Liaison
  • Creative Director
  • Creative Technologist
  • Design Analyst
  • Design Director
  • Digital Creative Director
  • Entrepreneur and Inventor
  • Founder and Creative Director
  • Human-centered Design Researcher
  • Interaction and Visual Designer
  • Interaction Designer/Magician
  • Interactive Environments Lead
  • Media Artist
  • Non-traditional Creative
  • PhD Candidate
  • Professor, Multimedia Design
  • Senior Manager Brand Identity Strategy
  • Senior Researcher, User Experience
  • Senior UX Designer
  • UX Designer

Placement trends we have seen in recent years:

Communication technology research or innovation units: Samsung Research, Microsoft Research, HTC Magic Lab, Google Creative Lab, T-Mobile Innovation Lab, Yahoo! Research, Intel Research, IBM

Non-conventional contexts: Jet Propulsion Lab/NASA, United Nations, UNICEF's Tech4Dev, Inkling, Synn Labs, Kaiser Innovation Center, Bloomberg, Dahlberg, City of Los Angeles, ESRI

Independent practices and start-ups: design studios, entrepreneurial ventures, app development, residencies, film festivals, conferences, media art exhibitions, galleries and performances

Academia—teaching and PhDs: MIT, UCSD, UCLA, Parsons The New School for Design, Hongik University, Mingchuan University, SVA, BYU, ArtCenter College of Design, Iowa State University, Cal State Long Beach, Auckland University of Technology, Kaywon University, Santa Monica City College 

Innovation groups within advertising and media companies: Chiat/Day, Wieden+Kennedy, Crispin Porter Bogusky, Yu+Co, Artefact, Troika Design Group, McCann

Innovation groups within global consulting firms: Ernst & Young, Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey & Company, Price Waterhouse Cooper,

Design research, interaction, and UX design in major design firms: IDEO, Frog Design, Smart Design, Continuum, 8 Inc., 5D Worldbuilding

Are you ready to take the leap? Apply Now.

Want to know more? Get in touch (mdp@artcenter.edu) or sign up to get news and updates. 

To apply, visit the ArtCenter website and follow the steps:

Application Requirements lists all the pieces you will need to submit.

Portfolio Requirements describes what the MDP asks for, including portfolio, essays, resume, and letters of recommendation.