Design legend Carl Magnusson zeroes in


"The discovery of zero is maybe the most important moment in mathematics," declared design master Carl Gustav Magnusson from the stage of the SCAD Museum of Art theater. "Without it there'd be no binary code, no computers, and we wouldn't be here today."

Magnusson was lecturing about the history of design, not programming or mathematics, yet as the image of a zero illuminated the screen behind him, the ovoid's sublime beauty revealed itself afresh. In design terms, it turns out, zero counts for a lot.

Magnusson's presentation — "3,500 Years of Design in 2,000 Seconds Flat!" — was part of the ongoing "Integration" lecture series presented by the SCAD School of Building Arts. Comprised of six connected disciplines — architectural history, architecture, furniture design, interior design, preservation design and urban design — SCAD School of Building Arts provides graduate and undergraduate students with key opportunities for guidance and inspiration from industry luminaries like Magnusson.

As an industrial designer and inventor, Magnusson's resume is as sturdy and stylish as an Eames chair. It should be: He worked with Charles and Ray Eames in the 1960s before becoming director of design at Knoll for three decades. He has received thirty design awards in the past decade, including Contract Magazine's Legend Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2012.

"You can have an innovation, and it can be a millennium before it has an impact," Magnusson said, keying his idea that design exists on a long, spry timeline punctuated by apparent breakthroughs.

Magnusson correlated the medieval Toscano scissor chair with Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich's design for the Barcelona chair circa 1929. He credited da Vinci with inventing the selfie. He pointed out that Vetruvius' "Ten Books on Architecture" was thought lost, only to be rediscovered 1500 years after its composition, when it assumed its rightful place as a cornerstone of architectural theory.

Magnusson's visual projections shifted like the sands of time, awash with iconic glimpses from design history. When an enormous, circular edifice appeared on screen, Magnusson said: "Peter Brueghel was an artist of the people, and here he showed what his conception of the Babel tower looked like. I think Frank Lloyd Wright looked at it and said, ‘If we turn this upside down, we've got a museum.'" A picture of the Guggenheim appeared like a well-timed punchline.

During the Q&A, Magnusson was asked specifically how he sees furniture design changing in the digital age.

"I'm actually shocked in how little furniture design changes," the designer replied. "We design something good, something different, something better, but is it new? How about the inflatable chair from the 1950s? That was something new. Are we still using it? No, it deflated. I think of design as a continuum. I don't think furniture is going to change much. In the digital age, we're immersed in everything from sketching to developing to manufacturing, all that is done digitally. But the furniture itself will not change significantly."

Magnusson's 2,000 seconds were up. He'd covered 3,500 years of design and then some. Zero looked better than ever.

SCAD School of Building Arts "Integration" lecture series continues Tuesday, May 2, 5:30 p.m. as William Sofield presents "Designing Places of Memory and Legacy" at SCAD MOA theater.


Beyond the seams with Imran Amed


Imran Amed may be a visionary, but he claims he doesn’t have a crystal ball.

During Amed’s conversation with SCAD Savannah vice president John Paul Rowan at the SCAD Museum of Art theater, the Business of Fashion founder and SCADstyle 2017 honorary chair resisted the notion that he's a fashion soothsayer.

Amed explained that he could never have predicted the success of his blog, which began as a passion project from his sofa, and has grown into a global media company and a daily must-read for its analysis and interviews, drawing more than a million unique visitors each month.

“Ten years ago, I had no idea I’d be sitting here today,” he said, laughing. Amed’s words resonated with the SCAD students in attendance, all intent on turning passion into profession. SCAD’s thoughtfully curated degree programs in fashion, fashion marketing and management, and luxury and fashion management are all especially attuned to the dynamism of Amed’s industry.

Coolly dressed in a blue-and-red bomber jacket and white sneakers, Amed told students that the “glamour and gloss” that attracts so many to the industry is just that —  the surface. Beneath it lie rich stories waiting to be told and important parts to play. He recommended learning the ropes in a small-business setting before deciding on a focus.

“In order to understand your role, you have to understand all of the fashion business,” he said.

Amed stated his belief that while the “gadgets and gizmos” upending today’s world may be flashy, customers still want to connect with real people and products. He sees brands who chase after every new tech trend — without considering whether it makes sense for their mission — as misguided. Conversely, he praised social media influencers who use their platforms to drive the larger conversation in meaningful ways.

Some students in the audience sported white bandanas on their wrists, the emblem of BoF’s #TiedTogether campaign. Amed launched the initiative to emphasize values of solidarity, unity and inclusiveness after other global fashion companies declined to speak out about intolerance. The #TiedTogether bandanas have been paraded down Fashion Week runways from New York to Milan and London to Paris, raising more than $50,000 for the American Civil Liberties Union and the UN Refugee Agency.

#TiedTogether is another initiative whose popularity blossomed in a way Amed could not have foretold. From launching his blog to developing each new BoF feature — including education, events and career listings — authentic risk-taking has remained his guiding force.

Amed addressed a variety of au courant questions from students on topics ranging from wearable technology and artificial intelligence in retail, to the atomization of Fashion Week and the evolving luxury market. 

“We’re in a time of great disruption in fashion,” Amed said. “That also means we’re in a time of great innovation.”

Rather than attempting to guess the future, Amed advised students to know themselves first.

“What is it that gets you excited, what makes you wonder? Connect your personal passion points with your career,” he said. “That’s where the magic happens.”

Faran Krentcil's ‘Realities of Fashion Media'


"When I was coming into the working world, the internet was for nerds," quipped Fashionista founder Faran Krentcil at the start of her SCADstyle lecture "Realities of Fashion Media." "That was certainly the fashion understanding. It was almost as if everyone was scared of the internet. The great thing about that is if people are scared of something, that means there's an opportunity to be had."

Aspiring fashion journalists, designers, marketers and more filled the second floor of SCAD Atlanta's historic Ivy Hall to hear Krentcil speak. She led them through her storied background to where she is today: a successful New York City-based writer and editor whose regular bylines include ELLE, Glamour and W. Her talk epitomized the top-line insights offered by the roster of guests at SCADstyle 2017, as well as SCAD as the preeminent source of visionary fashion degree programs.

Having founded Fashionista in 2007, Krentcil set the tone for that site's popular mix of commentary, breaking news and human-interest content. Subsequently Nylon magazine's first digital director from 2008 to 2014, Krentcil understands the online fashion landscape. She has collaborated with brands including Tiffany & Co., Marc Jacobs, Topshop and Diane von Furstenberg, and is a Tumblr fashion ambassador. With this almost overwhelmingly impressive resume, thankfully Krentcil wove relatable life mishaps into her talk.

"I came from a fantastic family. What I did not come from was a place where I could move to New York and work for free. So, I tutored middle school girls and made enough money to go to New York for a couple of months, right after college, on my own. Even though I didn't realize it, I was learning how girls' brains work and the cultural limitations of what they thought they could and couldn't do. That summer spent tutoring still informs the work I do in women's media today."

The lecture wrapped with a thorough Q&A, Krentcil peppering her responses with valuable advice. What does she consider essential reading? Forbes and The New York Times business section. What was the defining moment when she knew that Fashionista was going to be successful? She just never imagined that it wouldn't be.

To a room full of SCAD students anticipating their own creative careers, Krentcil emphasized: "That saying about opportunity being preparation and luck coming together? It's true."

'Flight Path' author Hannah Palmer


"There should be more overlap between the creative writing world and left-brain design," posited visionary urban planner Hannah Palmer. "That's why I'm excited to be here at SCAD, because you have both worlds at one university, and a lot of opportunities to collaborate."

The ostensible occasion for Palmer's Arnold Hall lecture was the publication of her new book "Flight Path: A Search for Roots Beneath the World's Busiest Airport" (Hub City Press, 2017). Addressing a rapt room of students and professors, Palmer elucidated her expansive notions of urban design as a form of storytelling, and how writers can tell captivating stories. This was no softcover sales spiel.

"Walking in here today I started gawking," Palmer said of Arnold Hall, home of the SCAD school of liberal arts, formerly the first public high school in Chatham County, built in 1920. "SCAD did an amazing job preserving what's cool about the original building, updating it so it feels spacious and light." Palmer's appreciation for SCAD's commitment to adaptive reuse has its origins in her peculiar childhood.

Palmer was raised in Mountain View, Georgia, a wily pocket of south Metro Atlanta. In the 1980s, her childhood home fell prey to an international airport intent on expansion. "The airport bought out the entire city, revoked the charter and abolished the city." Her hometown literally disappeared. "Writing my book became an act of historic preservation," explained Palmer, "because no one has heard of Mountain View."

Palmer described "Flight Path" as a "hybrid of urban design planning and my personal family history." Her SCAD lecture added references to Eudora Welty and Shawty Lo, as well as practical advice on how writers can use online mapping to understand the psychogeography of urban environments.

"The urban design world needs good writers and good storytellers," Palmer emphasized to the writing students in the room. "We need to understand a place, its history, its people, and bring that into our work." Fittingly, one of Palmer's current projects is at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, where she is reimagining the moribund northern border of the airport as a multi-use space with pedestrian paths and observation decks.

The lecture was especially personal for one attendee, Hannah's husband Jason Mug Palmer (B.F.A., video production, 1998). Jason was still a SCAD student when the couple were courting, and Hannah recalled driving down to Savannah to visit: "Our associations with places are based on our experiences there. To me Savannah is the most romantic place in the world." (At this Jason blushed, perhaps abetted by a sunburn picked up earlier in the day on Tybee Island.) Hannah, a master at drawing together disparate strands of creative thinking, was turning romance into a teaching moment:

"I will continue to work on making cities better places, and work on deliberately creating those places where people fall in love. It doesn't always happen by accident. Sometimes it's by design."

Hannah Palmer will deliver a writer's talk at SCAD Atlanta, Ivy Hall, Thursday, May 4, 6 p.m.

Get ready for SCADstyle 2017!


Clear your calendar and free your design mind, as SCADstyle 2017 comes alive this April 6—13! Join international luminaries of fashion, interior design, fragrance, typography, sustainability and much more as SCAD celebrates style as only SCAD can.

Headlined by Imran Amed, SCADstyle 2017 promises a week replete with inspiring lectures, panels and workshops at SCAD locations in Savannah, Atlanta and Hong Kong. All events are free and open to the public.

Amed, this year's honorary chair, is the founder, CEO and editor-in-chief of The Business of Fashion and a leading writer and industry thinker. He will speak about his work as an agenda-setting journalist at the SCAD Museum of Art theater, 601 Turner Blvd. in Savannah on Tuesday, April 11 at 6 p.m. Over the past decade Amed has grown BoF from an online passion project into an indispensable resource for the fashion industry, with more than one million unique visitors per month.

Best-selling author and editor Derek Blasberg, Fashionista creator Faran Krentcil, Bedrock Manufacturing founder Tom Kartsotis, and L'Oréal USA group president Carol Hamilton are among the other fêted guests who will share their expertise at this year's SCADstyle. As the preeminent source of design knowledge, SCAD is honored to directly connect these superstars with the next generation of design-minded Bees.

SCADstyle 2017 kicks off Thursday, April 6 at 6 p.m. at Arnold Hall with "Play at Your Own Risk," a presentation by Jessica Walsh, art director and partner at Sagmeister & Walsh. Walsh will offer advice on how to conscientiously cultivate freedom by working in a state of play.

The following Thursday, April 13 at 6 p.m., SCADstyle 2017 concludes at the SCAD MOA theater with a lecture by exalted designer Norma Kamali, inventor of the "sleeping bag coat” and vital presence on the design scene for over four decades. Kamali will lecture on timeless style as the quintessence of modern fashion.

The newest edition of this annual gathering is destined to transform preconceptions about design across all disciplines. Check the full schedule of SCADstyle 2017 events, and be part of the process!

Developmental cycling with Ben Van Winkle


A chat with SCAD Savannah cycling coach Ben Van Winkle can flow from the minutiae of kinesiology to the capricci of Paganini. An active triathlete as well as a classical violinist, the 25-year-old is an eminently relatable figure for his young team of artist-cyclists. Under Van Winkle’s guidance, the Bees head to eastern Tennessee this weekend to compete for the conference championship at the Milligan Cycling Classic, the capstone event of their inaugural season.

SCAD: At the start of the season you said, “A push-up is a push-up. It’s also a metaphor for doing things correctly.”

BEN VAN WINKLE: Doing little things the right way adds up. Over the course of the season, it can mean the difference between finishing first and finishing 20th in a race. Our riders who are more cerebral picked up on the idea right away. With the more experiential learners, it takes a while. To set up a first-year program and make it good and wholesome, you’ve got to spend time with the team. One principle guiding me through it all is that before you are successful you have to be humane.

SCAD: Where does that come from?

VAN WINKLE: Those were my grandfather’s parting words to me: “First be humane, before you are successful.” He was from northern China, near the Sino-Mongolian border. The English translation of his name would be Spring Mountain. He told me when your convictions are challenged, the easy thing to do is yield. He said, “I urge you to do what is right when it is hard.”

SCAD: Doing the right thing as coach has meant creating a fitness regimen tailored to each artist-cyclist on your team.

VAN WINKLE: The only vehicle you don’t get to replace is the one you’re born with. As an athlete, you’re both sculptor and sculpture. The key is shifting from being purely results-oriented to a developmental mindset. The team knows that I understand they’re at SCAD to prepare for creative careers. It’s about balance. The way we define balance is you balance all things in sum, not all things at once. When we do one thing, we do it 100 percent, which is a way to show respect to the things we’re not doing at that moment.

SCAD: What kind of shape is the team in right now?

VAN WINKLE: They’re very sharp. You’ve got fitness fit, you’ve got competition fit, and then there’s another level you don’t often experience, being in control of both body and mind. This week our practices are short and we spend more time talking about how the team is feeling. It’s about setting up that mental framework, because if their minds are in it, their bodies are ready.

SCAD: What do you hope for from the season finale this weekend?

VAN WINKLE: Stay upright and finish the race. That’s the most important thing. I told the team that unlike in the other races, to take a chance and make something happen. This is the moment to risk making a tactical mistake. Rather than, “I finished fifth but maybe if I’d tried that attack I would have finished first,” put everything on the line. Decide what you want to prove to yourself, and go for it.

Raquel Serebrenik Sultan: 'Chroma' and the maestro


Raquel Serebrenik Sultan (M.A., business design and arts leadership; B.F.A., art history, 2015) is co-curator of "Chroma," an exhibition by Carlos Cruz-Diez at the SCAD Museum of Art through August 20. Collaborating with head curator Storm Janse van Rensburg, Articruz and the Cruz-Diez Art Foundation, Serebrenik Sultan has assembled a remarkable display of the 93-year old Venezuelan painter and color-theorist's recent work. Serebrenik Sultan, currently program manager at the Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá (MAMBO),  returned to Savannah for the exhibition opening and special presentation by President Wallace to Cruz-Diez of the deFINE ART honoree award.

RAQUEL SEREBRENIK SULTAN: I studied at an arts high school in Bogotá. One day my teacher put a newspaper on the table with a huge picture of the maestro Carlos Cruz-Diez and said, "His show is coming to La Cometa gallery!" I went and saw this chromatic environment with lights. I started moving the little pieces around. And you can't just move around things at an exhibition! I was kicked out of the gallery. I was 13 years old.

The next day my parents called me and said, "We're so excited! We met this artist and you have to meet him." I flew to Panama where he has one of his ateliers and it was full of artists and designers creating on a constant basis.

When selecting a university to attend, I visited Savannah and the activity and energy at SCAD reminded me of the maestro's atelier. I knew it was the place for me!

When I started my thesis at SCAD, I decided to make it about Carlos Cruz-Diez. I got in contact with his family to request an interview with the maestro. While we were on Skype he was showing me what he was painting in Illustrator. I said, "Maestro, you need to come meet SCAD." He said, "I would love to."

The maestro is not a fan of art schools in general because he thinks they teach in a traditional way. Everyone needs to know the basics, but everyone needs to innovate — that's what the maestro thinks. In fact, SCAD's mentality and his mentality are very similar. At SCAD you can be an architect or a designer and be interested in other disciplines.

The curatorial process for "Chroma" started with wanting it to be bigger than an exhibition in a gallery. Storm said, "Why don't we do a container?" Which is a perfect connection to Savannah as a port city, and also to Panama. So we have a shipping container in the SCAD MOA courtyard with three works: two on the outside of the container, one on the inside.

A lot of Venezuelan SCAD students took the initiative to help paint the sidewalks outside the museum. The maestro means a lot to them. He means hope, he means color, he means a part of Venezuela that the rest of the world doesn't know.

What the maestro really wants to do is affect how people see art and design. Art is about invention, being curious. Age doesn't matter, it's about the ability to adapt.

The maestro always tells me, "I don't trust people who do not laugh or smile." Every time we meet we're always laughing. It's not jokes, it's just being happy. And if you're not happy, move on to something else.

Topher Grace 'tames the beast' at performing arts series


SCAD students enjoyed plenty of laughter along with sound advice from actor Topher Grace during the spring kickoff of the SCAD performing arts studio series at SCAD Museum of Art. Known best as bashful teenager Eric Forman on "That '70s Show," Grace has since appeared in notable films including "Spider-Man 3," "Interstellar," "Predators" and "American Ultra" — and now on the stage of the SCAD MOA theater too.

"The more you learn how the beast works, the more you can tame it," Grace told the audience of primarily performing arts students, referring to the film and television industry. He encouraged students to say yes to every opportunity at the start of their careers, before other life factors begin to weigh in: "If there's a door, you should go through it."

SCAD chair of film and television D.W. Moffett introduced Grace, whom he has considered a close friend since the two actors sat together at an awards dinner in 2000 for Grace's first film, "Traffic." Grace and Moffett both said they were a bit jealous of the resources available today, from smartphone recording capabilities to digital distribution systems, and joked about by-gone times collecting "short ends" of other people's film to make five-minute short videos.

"The technology is so in your favor," Grace told students.

Although Grace considers his start in the business a bit unusual — he earned his audition for "That '70s Show" after the producers saw him act in a play at their daughter's school — he shared what he has gleaned from his nearly two-decade career.

Referencing his early experiences with casting directors, Grace said students should dare to be different. His first headshot was a snapshot taken at Six Flags, and his résumé included jobs at Dunkin' Donuts and the video store at the mall.

"They knew they were getting someone who had a fresh point of view," Grace said with a chuckle.

Grace, who earned writing and producing credits on 2011's "Take Me Home Tonight," believes communication skills are a large part of a successful acting career. He cautioned actors to listen to each other, and to try to avoid working with people who are overly self-satisfied.

"The star of the project is the project — there's no human star," he said. Filmmaking is not a democracy, Grace pointed out, so actors should trust their director. "Great directors are really benevolent dictators."

The SCAD performing arts studio series invites artists and industry insiders to the university for immersive experiences with students as well as lectures that are open to the public. During his week at SCAD, Grace gave feedback on performances at a SCAD acting for comedy class, workshopped with 2017 performing arts showcase students, and visited the set of SCAD student sitcom "The Buzz."

Sharing the MOME Love at CoMotion 2017


Sporting pink MOME Love lanyards along with their business-casual best, SCAD motion media design students flocked to the SCAD Museum of Art, March 3 and 4, to make connections, present work and establish contacts during CoMotion, one of their most anticipated annual events.

Now in its eighth year, CoMotion features panels, portfolio reviews, networking receptions and a student work showcase. CoMotion is run by MOME Love, SCAD's motion media professional organization. This year's event attracted industry heavy hitters including Gentleman Scholar, The Mill and loyalkaspar, whose chief creative officer Beat Baudenbacher delivered the keynote address.

Offering the world's first specialized program in motion media design, SCAD presents undergraduate and graduate curricula that prepares students for top-level professional success. As SCAD chair of motion media Kelly Carlton explained: "These companies are here to see the wealth of work being done. At CoMotion, they see not only the work but how well the event is organized by students."

CoMotion showcases both the initiatives and talents of the students in a wide-ranging major. For the uninitiated, MOME Love co-president and current M.A. candidate Jamie Gray (B.F.A., motion media design, 2016), offered a description of the discipline.

"Motion media design is the combination of graphic design, film and television and animation," Gray said. "It's one giant major that showcases it all. We can be 2D animators but also UX designers. We know how to work a camera but can also do film editing and cinematography. Motion media encompasses diverse skills that are all shared by our love of design."

Friday's student showcase packed the SCAD MOA theater with cheering students as professional designers evaluated their motion media design projects. Work on display included moving infographics on public health issues such as plastic bag overuse, and typographic representations of the poetry of spoken word star Shane Koyzcan. 

Connections made at CoMotion often lead to internships and jobs. Gray secured her internship last year at (n+1) design studio in Jacksonville after showing her work to company representatives at CoMotion. Alumnus Duarte Elvas (M.F.A., motion media design, 2014; B.F.A., film and television, 2003), now a designer at Sarofsky in Chicago, has experienced the event from both sides.

"As a student, it was an amazing experience to have, connecting with these companies," Elvas said. "From a company standpoint, it's refreshing to see emerging talent and to get facetime with them. Everyone is so well-prepared. We keep coming back to SCAD."

CoMotion 2017 was livestreamed for the SCAD eLearning, Atlanta and Hong Kong locations.

Madame Gandhi inspires students at deFINE ART


"We should look inward to discover our immediate passions," said artist-activist Madame Gandhi, addressing the packed theater inside the SCAD Museum of Art, with her hand on her heart. "What do we care about?"

As part of deFINE ART 2017, SCAD presented two events with Madame Gandhi, the stage name of Los Angeles-based musician and feminist activist Kiran Gandhi. During her opening-night performance, Gandhi shared insights from her own career path and stressed the importance of putting passion first.

After a camp counselor introduced her to the drums at a young age, Gandhi abandoned her "oppressive piano lessons" and took to practicing the drums every day. As she began to identify as a drummer, Gandhi realized her passion for percussion wasn't fully shared by her parents.

"I got the sense — especially from my dad — that drumming was just extracurricular," Gandhi told the audience. 

After studying mathematics as an undergraduate student, she landed an internship with Interscope Records, where she began accruing valuable experience in the music industry.

"[My dad] would call me, questioning 'What's the next move? Are you going to get a job?'" Gandhi told the audience. "I said 'Papa, I'm not going to take your calls if they're oppressive.'" At this, several students laughed and clapped in approval.

Post-internship, Gandhi accepted a job at Interscope analyzing Spotify streaming plays. Then, just as she'd been accepted to business school, a chance meeting with M.I.A. led to Gandhi securing a spot as the drummer in London-born Sri Lankan rapper and activist's all-female band.

With grad school approaching and M.I.A.'s world tour about to kick off, Gandhi knew she had to make a choice. She chose both. 

"On a Monday I'd go to class, and then catch a 3 p.m. shuttle from Boston's Logan to New York to play the first of five shows," Gandhi said, counting her steps on her fingers. "At 4 a.m. I'd go back to the airport and fly back for class. That was all week long. And it worked!"

As busy as this time was, Gandhi told the audience she felt "focused on her mission."

"I was an artist, traveling the word and getting to make music," Gandhi said. "What else is there?"

Gandhi closed the discussion with two songs from her 2016 EP "Voices," alternating from vocals to percussion and proudly proclaiming "the future is female" at the end of the evening.

The next day, Gandhi returned to the SCAD MOA theater to host a workshop titled "Own Your Voice," about "atomic living," which she explained means using spontaneity more productively.

"Teachers would ask about my 10-year plan," Gandhi admitted to the theater crowd, rolling her eyes. "A 10-year plan? I don't know what I'm doing 10 hours from now!"

Gandhi instructed students to fold a sheet of paper into three panels and number each section. In the first panel, students wrote things that brought them joy. The second panel was for students to write things they disliked about the world. The third panel was to brainstorm ideas on using the passions from panel one to correct the issues in panel two.

Gandhi concluded by encouraging students to revisit their lists and to always work towards their own happiness.

"Don't be afraid to fail," she said, as students and professors alike applauded. "Why do we teach perfection, but not bravery?"