Panel: Design & Complexity

The Hong Kong Educational Platform Meeting stressed the need to train resourceful designers, capable of working confidently across disciplines. Yes, designers have always been ‘inter-disciplinary,’ in that we regularly combine disciplines to achieve an outcome. But we are also ‘multi-disciplinary,’ in that the design process allows us to work across and bridge disciplines, even those outside our expertise. Our Panel of emerging and distinguished designers and educators, will share their inter- and multi-disciplinary experiences, and discuss why this integration approach to creative practice is so powerful.

Jessie Kawata is a Creative Strategist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Her passion for art, science, and sustainability led her to NASA where she helped to pioneer their very first in-house design studio. With a background in both product design and illustration from ArtCenter College of Design, Jessie has been able to spearhead the integration of design-thinking, creative methodologies, and storytelling strategy into early space mission concepts as Lead Designer in NASA JPL’s Innovation Foundry. In addition, Jessie is a Co-Investigator for a NASA drought indicator proposal in support of the National Climate Assessment.


Arden Stern is a design historian whose scholarship focuses on graphic design and visual culture. Her research interests include the history of typography and vernacular design practices, and she has contributed to scholarly and journalistic publications including Design & Culture, Design Issues, and Print magazine. Dr. Stern teaches in the Department of Humanities & Sciences and the graduate program in Media Design Practices at ArtCenter College of Design.


Paul Soady is an Australian art/type director & letterpress printer from Australia where he surfed, got job in an advertising agency, at night Attended East Sydney Art School and gravitated to type and design. In England, after an interesting journey to London by road, he ended up at Ogilvy Benson & Mather as a “ Typographer,” later freelancing in a small Covent Garden design studio. After another interesting journey, this time through Africa, he returned to Australia and freelanced as a type director, won awards, taught part time at East Sydney Art School, co-founded The Australian Type Directors Club, and was a judge many times for the Art Directors Club. In America Soady worked as an Art Director, won one or two One Show Awards, and was a teacher at ArtCenter College of Design (26 years). He worked in the advertising department & Transportation. Co-chaired Faculty Council. Soady just finished a book on Eric Gill.


Karen Zimmermann is a Professor in the Graphic Design and Illustration Division at the University of Arizona School of Art and acting Chair in Design and Illustration. Previously Karen taught at the University of Hawaii. Karen has received numerous grants and awards including an Arizona Project Grant by the Arizona Commission of the Arts, UA Deans fund for Excellence, and UA Faculty Fellowship. She has been a member of the AIGA Design Educators Steering Committee and is on the College Book Art Association Board. She teaches courses in typography, information graphics, and design.

Her writing has been published in “The Education of a Graphic Designer,” “The Education of an E Designer,” “The Education of a Motion Designer”, JAB (Journal of Artists’ Books), “Design Education in Progress: Methodology and Process”, American Institute of Graphic Arts, Zed and Inform. Karen Zimmermann’s creative work examines the relationship between art, design, culture, and technology. Her work is tied with her practice in graphic design and letterpress printing. Recently, she has produced visual works that examine, compare, and contrast visual and typographic signs in public and private spaces in the southwest in the book form (Corridor, Here now, and 52).

Karen received her MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and her undergraduate degree from Rutgers University.


Michele Jaquis is a socially engaged, interdisciplinary artist who examines the complexities within personal relationships, identity, language and communication. Her experimental and documentary videos, multichannel projections for theater, photographic and digitally manipulated imagery, facilitated workshops and interactions, installations, sculptural objects, and performances have been exhibited in alternative spaces, galleries and museums and film/video festivals across the US and in Australia, Canada, Ireland and New Zealand. Jaquis is also Associate Professor and Director of Interdisciplinary Studies and the Artist, Community Teaching Program at Otis College of Art and Design where she oversees all undergraduate minor curricula while engaging students in collaborating with each other and various community partners.