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Southern California's ArtCenter College of Design Is Where Magical Things Happen

If you want to be a car designer, you’d best be ready for a long and tough road ahead of you, because it isn’t easy. But a great place to start is by getting your ass into the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California. It’s got a stellar transportation design program. I went for a visit recently to check it out.

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Established in 1930, ArtCenter’s notable graduates include Chris Bangle of BMW, Henrik Fisker, Franz von Holzhausen of Tesla, Larry Shinoda of Corvette and Mustang fame and Nick Pugh, the transportation designer behind the movie Logan and whom we’ve interviewed before.

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For the second episode of the fifth season of NBC Sports’ /DRIVE, I interviewed Stewart Reed, chair of the transportation design department, and Kimberly Marte, a professor at the college as well as a former senior lead on Tesla’s color, material and trends team.

The school stresses the importance of giving its students hands-on experience. Because of its convenient location in Southern California, there’s also a plethora of OEMs and other automotive companies to tap for internships and other experience. Happily, also, the school is also seeing an uptick in female designers, something this industry is in desperate need of.

All image credits: /DRIVE
All image credits: /DRIVE

The walls of the studio were adorned with student sketches—design studies in futuristic off-road vehicles and sports cars. The lobby of the school featured an entire display of 3D models of concept cars and prototypes.

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It made my fingers itch for a pencil and a sketch pad so I could put down some lines of my own, although I can’t draw to save my life. It’s why I went into writing instead of designing.

Anyway, ArtCenter is a truly magical place and you can see it all on the LA episode of /DRIVE, airing this Sunday, Oct. 28, on NBC Sports at 8:30 p.m. EST.

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Illustration for article titled Southern Californias ArtCenter College of Design Is Where Magical Things Happen
Illustration for article titled Southern Californias ArtCenter College of Design Is Where Magical Things Happen
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Illustration for article titled Southern Californias ArtCenter College of Design Is Where Magical Things Happen

Writer at Jalopnik and consumer of many noodles.

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DISCUSSION

I so wanted to attend this place. But, alas... No Fancy Kristen cash here for tuition. But, I did end up working with several of the graduates later in my career. They can sketch and conceive like few others. However, they also lacked the technical knowledge that kept their beautiful designs from production.

ID schools can be graphed on a scale from art centered training to engineering based programs. Art Center and CCS are on the styling end of the spectrum, while other schools (Auburn, Georgia Tech) are the other extreme. A good design department has a healthy influence from both.