Call for Proposals: 2018 Summer Design Residency

December 20, 2017

18_su_res_jury3Update: JURY ANNOUNCED — W.F. Umi Hsu, Strategic Designer and Cultural Humanist;Benjamin Bratton, Design Philosopher; Ilona Gaynor, Designer, Artist, and Writer; Elise Co, Interaction Designer. APPLICATION DEADLINE: 12 noon (PST), February 14, 2018

The MDP Summer Design Residency is granted to a creative practitioner or team whose experimental design work engages emerging issues in science, technology, culture, and society. The winning proposal should demonstrate how design/making can be used as a mode of inquiry and critical engagement.

Art Center's south campus, a Daly-Genik renovation of a former supersonic jet testing facility.

Art Center’s south campus, a Daly-Genik renovation of a former supersonic jet testing facility.

The residency includes studio space and shop access, a $5,000 stipend, a $5,000 project budget, and a team of graduate student interns for 7 weeks. The residency culminates in a small public exhibition and presentation.

Photo of MDP Making Lab

From soldering to 3D printing to sewing in the MDP’s Making Lab.


Call for Proposals

This call for proposals welcomes designers, filmmakers, architects, artists, and makers of all kinds to submit a proposal for design-driven research to be conducted in Summer 2018, in residence in the MDP’s Wind Tunnel studio. The winning proposal will use design as a mode of inquiry into emerging issues in science, technology, culture, and/or society.

In the MDP, we define “media” broadly (see Tim Durfee’s blog post on this subject). Therefore, the residency is open to a range of disciplinary perspectives and practices. Projects that are the best fit will take a critical and culturally-specific approach to: futurisms and speculations; network and digital cultures; pervasive computing, AI and machine learning, and/or the internet of things; mixed realities at any scale from micro to urban to global; humanisms, colonialisms, users, and other social constructs open to critique through design.

We are looking for projects that allow for discovery-through-making during the residency period. Applicants should have a track record of experimental design and research projects as evidenced through robust documentation and dissemination, and should have some experience managing a team.

We cannot fund commercial projects – projects for which the researcher is being paid by a client – however we are not averse to projects that have potential commercial applications. The residency is not suitable for the latter stages of a project’s “finish” and we will favor proposals that actively engage the student team in the design and research process. The research page of this site shows past residents and faculty research projects that we have supported.


Interior of the Wind Tunnel studio.

Interior of the Wind Tunnel studio.


The Jury

W.F. Umi Hsu (pronouns: they/them) is a strategic designer and public humanist who engages with research and organizing agendas for equity in arts, technology, and civic life. Hsu leads design strategy and digital initiatives at the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. Hsu has advised Arts for LA, LA Counts, Cultural Research Network, Center for Cultural Innovation, and Society of Ethnomusicology and leads community-based sound project LA Listens. Hsu has received fellowships and awards from National Endowment for the Arts, American Council for Learned Society, Shuttleworth Foundation, and LA Metro and teaches as adjunct professor at ArtCenter College of Design and University of Southern California.

Benjamin H. Bratton‘s work spans Philosophy, Art, Design and Computer Science. He is Professor of Visual Arts and Director of the Center for Design and Geopolitics at the University of California, San Diego. He is Program Director of the Strelka Institute of Media, Architecture and Design in Moscow. He is also a Professor of Digital Design at The European Graduate School and Visiting Faculty at SCI_Arc (The Southern California Institute of Architecture)  In his recent book, The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty (MIT Press, 2016. 503 pages) Bratton outlines a new theory for the age of global computation and algorithmic governance. See His current research project, Theory and Design in the Age of Machine Intelligence, is on the unexpected and uncomfortable design challenges posed by A.I in various guises: from machine vision to synthetic cognition and sensation, and the macroeconomics of robotics to everyday geoengineering.

Ilona Gaynor is a designer, artist and writer. She was the 2012 MDP Summer Design Resident where she completed her project Under Black Carpets which she went on to exhibit at the Lisbon Design Triennale. Her work is occupied by the conflicts, entanglements and geometric dimensions of capital and the problem it poses for plot and image. Often presented as proposed scenarios or situations – the work takes form as plans, proposals, scripts and geographies for structurally imagined scenarios or events that cannot or will not occur. Ilona’s work has been exhibited, published, awarded and presented internationally. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Design at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Elise Co is co-founder of Aeolab, a design and technology studio in Los Angeles building dynamic interfaces, generative behaviors and advanced, high-fidelity functional prototypes of alternate/future devices and systems. Co has helped design and implement data  visualizations, hand-powered electronic prototypes, robotic appliances, and multi-screen kinetic installations for clients such as Honda, BMW, Sony, Samsung, and Disney. Co holds a Master of Science degree in Media Arts and Sciences and a Bachelor of Science in architecture from MIT. At the MIT Media lab, Co explored the synthesis of fashion and technology. She is an Associate Professor in Graduate Media Design and Interaction Design at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, and has taught at the Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst in Basel, Switzerland; the University of Minnesota; SCI-Arc; and USC. Her work has been shown internationally, including at the Milan Triennale, Istanbul Design Biennial, NEMO Amsterdam, MOMA, SIGGRAPH, and IMRF Tokyo.

The Residency

Residents are given project space for up to 14 weeks within the MDP studio. Housed in a former supersonic jet testing facility, the MDP studio is part of a complex called the Wind Tunnel Graduate Center for Critical Practice, which includes the Wind Tunnel Gallery, the Graduate Art MFA studios and galleries, and the Hixon Courtyard, in the heart of Art Center’s south campus in Pasadena, California. The award includes access to the College’s renowned shops and production facilities from letterpress to video editing to large-scale rapid prototyping.

The resident receives a $5,000 stipend and can submit a project budget for up to $5,000.

The resident selects a project team of 2–3 graduate student research assistants (media designers/design researchers) for 7 weeks.


The Wind Tunnel Gallery space, part of the Media Design Practices studio.

The Wind Tunnel Gallery space, part of the Media Design Practices studio.


The Facilities

The MDP will provide dedicated project space. The MDP studio is adjacent to the Graduate Art studios and galleries and will be home to at least one other research team, post-graduate research fellows, and MDP research faculty.

Researchers will have access within the studio to a digital shop, desktop and laptop computers, AR and VR lab, digital video editing bay, recording equipment, color printers and plotters, projectors and miscellaneous digital devices. Researchers will also have access to the the College Library, campus workshops for wood, metal, rapid prototyping, letterpress printing, screenprinting, the Color, Materials, and Trends Laboratory, and more.

The South Campus is walking distance to good housing options and shopping. It is adjacent to the MTA Gold Line which provides easy access to Chinatown, Koreatown, and downtown L.A. There is bus service between the South Campus and the main Hillside Campus.


The Made Up exhibition in the Wind Tunnel Gallery.

The Made Up exhibition in the Wind Tunnel Gallery.


The Research Interns

MDP summer residencies offer our students the opportunity to gain first-hand experience doing research in design. Project Proposals should include plans to engage between 2–5 students as research interns and should include a job description and required skills for each position. The students will receive course credit and are available for 4 days per week for a period of 7 weeks (June 26 to August 18).

Students who are eligible to apply for a research internship will have completed at least one year of graduate school. Our students are media designers from varied backgrounds. Skills/experience may include: communication design, video, motion graphics, environmental media, physical computing prototyping, rapid prototyping, programming, and research and writing. Researchers will have the opportunity to review intern applications and may request interviews before selecting interns.


Deliverables and Calendar

The resident can have access to the studio and facilities from May 14 – August 24, 2018, during which time they are required to be in residence for a minimum of 7 weeks, from July 2 to August 17.

Facilities available: May 14 – August 24, 2018
Student Project team available: July 2 to August 16 (7 weeks)
Project installation: August 16
Public Discussion: August 16
Project work open to public: August 16–Sept. 22
Public Research event: Sept. 20
De-install deadline: Sept. 24
Full documentation due: October 1, 2018

To Apply

Download this pdf for full directions.

Applicants must submit the entire application as a pdf or link by e-mail by 12 noon, Pacific Time, February 14, 2017. The application should include a cv, project form, and 2-page project proposal.



Individuals who will be students at the time of the residency are not eligible, except for doctoral candidates who are ABD. We encourage recent graduates from Masters Programs to apply. Faculty from Art Center College of Design as well as other colleges and universities are encouraged to apply, as are practitioners. Full-time MDP faculty are not eligible, however part-time faculty are.

Applicants must show proof of eligibility to work in the United States during the time of the residency. The residency cannot be conducted on a tourist visa and Art Center CANNOT provide assistance with visas for non-citizens.

Art Center will not pay for housing, shipping, or travel to/from Art Center. However we can recommend resources to locate short-term housing and transportation. We recommend that researchers traveling from other cities, and particularly from other countries, plan to arrive 1-2 weeks prior to the start of the residency in order to allow enough time to get situated.

For more information:

Kevin Wingate: kevin.wingate (at)
Graduate Media Design Practices:

ArtCenter College of Design: