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Mariana Amatullo

Pasadena, CA, United States

Development for Humanitarian Design Projects and International Partnerships

Member since June 08, 2007


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    Here in Los Angeles, we live with the certainty that at any given time the ground will shift dramatically. What has been famously coined a “coast of dreams,” is also one riddled with a web of faults that could rupture any day and without any warning, to produce an earthquake of catastrophic consequences. We live in earthquake country and this post-election November, we are about to experience an unprecedented call to action for earthquake preparedness throughout the region with the [Great Southern California ShakeOut]. It’s our future, a major earthquake occurring along the San Andreas Fault. The questions are not if it will happen, but when, and will we be ready?

    [media#1]

    Aligned with ShakeOut, The Los Angeles Earthquake: Get Ready is a multifaceted communication project led by Designmatters at Art Center College of Design that has allowed us to investigate the contributing role of design in disaster mitigation and public awareness. Our point of departure three years ago when we launched the research phase of the project was to ask ourselves, what would it take for our creative community to anticipate a natural disaster of catastrophic scale, instead of responding to one? Essentially, we wanted to be ahead of the destructive quake that all experts agree is inevitable. Our key questions were: How do we act now, before the big earthquake? What can we do to lessen the impact after it occurs?

    Canvassing the Expertise

    When we conceived the project with Art Center for...

  • A Call to Action for Design with Social Impact

    Education, Communication Design

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    Changing the Change Conference Torino, July 11-12, 2008

    “Being a designer is being a realistic optimistic,” this was one of Ezio Mancini’s key opening messages at the thought-provoking Changing the Change Conference (http://www.changingthechange.org) that brought an international audience of educators, researchers, designers and practioners among us to present our papers, share project case studies and ponder the state of design research today and into the future, particularly as it pertains to key issues of sustainability and social impact. We convened at the Institute of Biotechnology of the Politecnico de Torino and in a city that won ICSID’s 2008 World Design Capital nomination. A city that remains a splendid monument to baroque splendor, FIAT industrial might, and cafeterias culture.

    While Professor Manzini recognized that the qualifier “realistic” optimistic might well be a slightly modified version of proper English, he insisted on the importance of the term. As the design community confronts increasingly unsustainable trends, he made a very inspiring call to action for design research to stop being self-referential and become the activity that it should truly be—one that produces knowledge useful to designers and broader constituencies, instead of a “quasi-scientific” discussion that does not transpire beyond a circle of enlightened few. His firm appeal for the agenda of sustainability to be “a meta-objective” of every design research activit...

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    When it comes to the complex landscape of international humanitarian aid, technology interventions and social entrepreneurship, Africa is at a juncture more promising than ever before. Many of the accounts from attendees to the recent TEDGlobal 2007 Conference in Tanzania, held by the Technology, Entertainment and Design organization are a case in point. Jason Pontin, editor in chief and publisher of M.I.T’s Technology Review, surveyed forthcoming solutions presented at TED that could be a recipe for progress and success, making the following compelling statement in his New York Times Slipstream Column (June-17):* “In truth, Africa will need both investment in entrepreneurialism and aid, intelligently directed toward education, health and food.”* This essential equation is at the heart of the objectives behind one of the projects the social and humanitarian initiative Designmatters at Art Center College of Design [www.artcenter.edu/designmatters/projects/mpala] (http://www.artcenter.edu/designmatters/projects/mpala) has been developing for the past few months in collaboration with a small mobile health clinic in Northern Kenya, Mpala (mpala.org/mct).

    In the Laikipia and Samburu districts of northwest Kenya, nomadic, poverty-stricken tribes often suffer from a lack of basic medical care, as well as access to education and family planning. A small community-based organization, Mpala Community Trust (MCT) is one of the sole health-care providers in the region. MCT’s ex...

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    Note: The following article is a contribution of Erica Clark, Designmatters Co-Founder and Senior Vice-President, International Initiatives, Art Center College of Design What happens when a global company meets a small design school? In the case of GE HealthCare and Art Center College of Design, a collaborative effort with tremendous real-world applications.

    In the fall 2006, GE HealthCare funded an educational project at the College that resulted in a series of innovative design-based solutions to an urgent challenge: to deploy new medical technologies among underserved populations in Africa, in places where most people have never seen advanced medical care of any kind. Working closely with top GE HealthCare professionals, a select team of Art Center product, environmental, and transportation students and faculty responded to this challenge with exhilarating energy and creativity. As the portfolio of images below shows, many of the designs are currently feasible; others, while more complex, are still realistic. It would be easy, for example, to make a radio-transmitter bracelet that allows midwives and pregnant women to communicate over far-flung locations – sparing the lives of myriad mothers and babies. It will be possible to develop the team’s concept for a portable ultrasound device that’s easy to operate and comfortable for patients who would fear a conventional, more invasive examination, thus improving the diagnosis and monitoring of many conditions. Or to impl...

Mariana Amatullo, co-founder, VP and director of the College-wide initiative Designmatters

Contact Mariana Amatullo
art center college of design/designmatters

My Interests

  • Industrial Design
  • Environmental Design
  • Communication Design
  • Fashion Design
  • Audio/Visual Design