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Big City Forum's Mapping LA: Design Based Thinking, Wednesday, May 2nd, at 7pm

Armory Center for the Arts is pleased to again welcome Big City Forum in residence through June 2012. Big City Forum presents the third conversation in the Mapping LA series, a set of four discursive events that features speakers from a similar creative practice sharing a lively discussion around livability, sustainability, community, and the politics of place in Los Angeles. The entire series, which is free and open to the public, takes place on the first Wednesday of May, and June 2012 at 7pm at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, CA.

Mapping LA: Design Based Thinking
Wednesday, May 2, 2012, 7pm

The forum will explore how design based thinking can be used as creative process that informs our way of engaging with public and social space.  A group of design practitioners and educators will explore issues around design as a set of solutions that can be applied towards social innovation, and the argument for and against it.  It will also look at design thinking as a pedagogical and cognitive approach to engage with larger issues.


Nik Hafermaas, Chair Graphic Design, Art Center
Marc Mertens, Principal, SESO Design
Kali Nikitas, Chair Communication Arts, OTIS
Joseph Prichard, Principal, J Prichard Design & Graphic Designer, Public Affairs, Cal Arts
Moderated by: Rebeca Mendez, faculty UCLA Design/Media Arts

Nikolaus Hafermaas is a designer, artist and the Department Chair of Graphic Design and Dean of Special Programs at Art Center College of Design. His Los Angeles based company UeBERSEE designs and produces data-driven art installations and design exhibitions. As former principal and chief creative officer of Triad Berlin, he and his two partners formed one of Germany's leading design firms. His team created pavilions for the World Expo2000 and for the Swiss Expo02. Prior to joining Art Center, he was a professor of integrated design at the University of Arts Bremen, and co-curator of the Berlin-based network Young Creative Industries. He has recently taught design workshops in France, Latin America and China. Nik is recipient of numerous international design awards and was member of the AIGA National Board of Directors.

Rebeca Méndez was born in Mexico City and received her MFA from Art Center College of Design. She is currently a professor in the department of Design | Media Arts at UCLA. She has shown her work at ARCO Madrid 29th International Art Fair; X Biennial, Cuenca, Ecuador; the National Design Triennial; the Beall Center for Art and Technology, University of California, Irvine; the Alyce Williamson Gallery, Pasadena; the Broad Art Center, UCLA; Museum of Contemporary Art in Oaxaca; and the Centre Pompidou, Paris. In addition, her work has been exhibited at, and is represented in collections of, the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, New York; the Denver Art Museum; the Freitag Historical Museum, Hannover; and Museo José Luís Cuevas, Mexico City. 

Méndez lectures internationally, including a TEDx Talk in 2011, and reviews of her work have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Eye Magazine, Metropolis, and I.D. Magazine, among others. Méndez has received extensive international recognition, including artist residencies at the Gunnar Gunnarson Institute in Iceland, at The Arctic Circle, and at HIAP at the world heritage site of the historical fortress island of Suomenlinna, Helsinki, Finland. Méndez is recipient of a 2010 California Community Foundation Mid Career Fellowship for Visual Artist and was selected for the Artist Pension Trust, México City.

Marc Mertens founded the experience design firm Seso to help organizations solve some of the world's largest challenges by creating engaging digital stories and experiences that move people. Seso has been engaged by organization such as TED, Nasa, The Smithsonian and the XPrize Foundation.

Marc currently serves on the council for the iSlate initiative, an ultra-low-cost, solar-powered learning tablet developed in a partnership with Rice University and NTU Singapore to foster rural education in developing nations. He also teaches User Experience Design at UCLA Extension and serves as the Director of Marketing & Partnerships at Glow, an all-night cultural experience on Santa Monica Beach that fosters human interaction through participatory, temporary art. The inaugural Glow featured over 20 commissioned art works and attracted more than 200,000 visitors.

Kali Nikitas is principal of Graphic Design for Love (+$) based in Los Angeles. She is Chair of the Communication Arts Department and founding Chair of the MFA Graphic Design program at Otis College of Art and Design. She has been recognized by Type Director’s Club, ACD, AIGA, Graphis; published internationally; lectured and given workshops throughout the United States and in Europe. She is co-editor and collaborator of :OUTPUT, the international student competition. Kali’s website hosts a daily document entitled: “FASHION FOR LOVE (+$)” and she encourages global submissions.

Joseph Prichard is a Los Angeles–based graphic designer, specializing in work for the nonprofit and arts sectors. He holds an MFA in Graphic Design from the California Institute of the Arts and a BFA in film from the University of Southern California. He has collaborated with a number of leading Los Angeles’ design firms including, AdamsMorioka, Distinc, Muñiz/McNeil, Louise Sandhaus Design and Durfee|Regn Architects. He has created work for a diverse assortment of local and national clients including, United States Artists, CICLAVIA, TOMS Shoes, The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Stones Throw Records and the Autry National Center for the American West. Joseph’s work has been featured in publications such as Monocle, Fast Company, Pasadena Weekly and the Montreal Gazette and was included in the 2010 California Design Biennial. He currently works as a Graphic Designer in the Public Affairs office of the California Institute of the Arts.

About Big City Forum

Big City Forum is an interdisciplinary project that facilitates the exchange of ideas through gatherings, symposiums, exhibitions, and special events that provide access to forward-thinking creative projects.  As an incubator of ideas and a generator for creative capital, it promotes the arts and imagination as powerful tools for community and civic transformation.  In addition it seeks new ways to map and understand what acts of imagination mean to people and places.  By bringing together creative visionaries and community/civic leaders, Big City Forum aims to build a platform for collaboration and partnerships that promote a more active sense of cultural vitality and engagement. 

On display at the Armory

The Armory’s lead exhibition, Accidents in Abstract Painting, the Armory, is a solo exhibition by Richard Jackson. It will feature the detritus and video documentation of an epic outdoor spectacle in which the artist crashed a 15’ model military jet, filled with paint, into a 19’ wall that read “accidents in abstract painting.” Also on display will be Jackson’s installation The War Room (2006-‘07), until now exhibited only once, and never in the Los Angeles area. By exhibiting the two installations side by side, Jackson reflects upon the Pasadena Armory's history as a repository for military accoutrements, confronting its current function as a contemporary arts center. The exhibition will be up though 12 June.

Also on display will be DANCE, OPERA, DRAW, an exhibition of a new work by Jocelyn Foye in the Armory’s Mezzanine East gallery and Please Please Please, recent photographs, photograms, and text by Nicholas Grider in Mezzanine West. Both shows run 12 February through 13 May. The Armory’s Pasadena Art Alliance Gallery will feature Music for Hoarders, video documentation by Dawn Kasper, through 12 June. In the Community Room will be a group show entitled Fantastic Scenarios of new work by students from the Entertainment Design department at Art Center College of Design, from 12 February through 15 April.

About the Armory

The Armory Center for the Arts, in Pasadena, California, believes that an understanding and appreciation of the arts is essential for a well-rounded human experience and a healthy civic community. Founded in 1989, the Armory builds on the power of art to transform lives and communities through presenting, creating, teaching, and discussing contemporary visual art. The organization’s department of exhibitions mounts over 25 visual arts exhibitions each year at its main facility and in locations throughout the City of Pasadena. In addition, the Armory offers studio art classes and a variety of educational outreach programs to more than fifty schools and community sites.

Armory Center for the Arts is located at 145 North Raymond Avenue, Pasadena. Gallery hours are Tuesday – Sunday, noon-5pm. $5 suggested donation. Armory members, students, and seniors are free. The Armory is easily accessible from the Gold Line Memorial Park Station in Pasadena. For information about Armory exhibitions and events, the public may call 626.792.5101 x122 or visit the Armory website at


Contact: Calvin Phelps, Communications Manager
Phone: (626) 792-5101 x 130




Press Release

See full press release PDF for more information 




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