September 24, 2018

ArtCenter Provost Karen Hofmann Receives 2018 IDSA Education Award

ArtCenter Students Receive IDSA Regional Student Merit Awards

Karen Hofmann, provost of ArtCenter College of Design, was presented with the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) Education Award during the organization’s annual International Design Conference in recognition of her significant and distinguished contributions to the field of industrial design education. The IDSA Education Award is presented to an IDSA member who has earned the respect and admiration of colleagues and students for teaching industrial design; and who has maintained unwavering commitment to the values and principles of the industrial design profession.

“It is an absolute honor to be recognized by IDSA with the Education Award. Like others who received this recognition before me, it represents a passionate commitment in preparing the next generation of designers to create purposeful projects and meaningful careers,” Hofmann said. “It goes without saying, this award represents not only my work but the work of many at ArtCenter who contribute to innovative programming at the College: our students and faculty who continuously push the boundaries of design education as well as the staff and leadership who empower our creative community.

“It is also an honor to be counted among the three other women who have been past recipients of the IDSA Education Award—Leslie Speer, Lorraine Justice and Katherine McCoy—since they have served as role models for me to pursue education as a lifelong commitment,” Hofmann continued. “And I humbly extend my appreciation to Leslie, as well as ArtCenter faculty and fellow IDSA members Katherine Bennett and Babette Strousse for nominating me in the first place.”

ArtCenter President Lorne Buchman said, “I couldn’t be prouder of Karen and the incredible work she’s done at the College, both as Product Design chair and, now, as our new provost. She’s proven to be an agile and thoughtful leader; always with a focus on student preparation and success. Mazel tov, Karen!”

Hofmann was named provost of ArtCenter in July 2018 and is the first woman to hold the title in the College’s history. Previously, Hofmann served as chair of the ArtCenter’s Product Design department since 2009 and began teaching at the College in 2001. She was similarly recognized in 2010, when DesignIntelligence, published by the Design Futures Council, named Hofmann one of their Most Admired Educators. For additional information about Hofmann’s accomplishments as an educator and her professional experience, please visit the ArtCenter website.

“It is rare that a practicing designer transitions successfully into the role of professor, much more so with women designers. In all my years of working in the field and the academic world, Karen has stood out as someone who creates transformative experiences that transcend the norms of design and design education,” said Leslie Speer, chair of Product Design at Maryland Institute College of Art, who was also a recipient of the IDSA Education Award in 2012. “Karen’s vision is focused on a point in the future that most cannot see. Her work at ArtCenter has created designers that have impacted the design world in a massive way and she does this with intelligence, unmatched energy, grace and a good sense of humor. I am eternally grateful to have someone like her as a colleague and mentor.”

Each year, IDSA also recognizes exceptional student design talent through their Student Merit Awards program. Recent Product Design alumnus Charlie Hodges (BS 2018) and Graduate Industrial Design student Ryan Cunningham received Student Merit Awards in the undergraduate and graduate categories for the Western District. Coinciding with their award wins, Hodges presented an overview of his work during the IDSA/Eastman Innovation Lab Education Symposium and Cunningham has been asked to contribute an article to the winter issue of IDSA's INNOVATION magazine.

During the conference, IDSA also issues the annual International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA). Hodges won a Gold Award in the student category for his project The Urbanette, A Home Like No Other. ArtCenter students Youju Lee and Yongjoon Jhoo won Silver for their ENLIGHTEN Smart Desk Lamp and Hanbi Ko won Bronze for the Rubu playground. It was reported that no other school received three awards at these levels. A gallery of IDEA Student Award winners over the years is available on the IDSA website.

ArtCenter was further represented at IDSA's International Design Conference by alumni Safir Bellali, senior director/Advanced Digital Creation at VF Corporation, who spoke about “Creativity in the Digital Age;” and Claude Zellweger, director of design at Google, whose session was titled “Tech For Humans. Not Humans for Tech.” And Hofmann participated in a panel discussion about “The Future of the PhD in ID.”

About IDSA

The nonprofit Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) is one of the oldest and largest industrial design associations in the US, representing thousands of members in dozens of Student Chapters, Professional Chapters and Special Interest Sections in the US and internationally. IDSA sponsors the annual International Design Excellence Awards® (IDEA), one of the world’s most prestigious and rigorous design competitions. The Society leads National Industrial Design Day annually on March 5. IDSA hosts events including the annual International Design Conference, District Design Conferences and niche conferences, bringing together some of the biggest names and brightest minds in industrial design and related fields. Learn more at

About ArtCenter

Founded in 1930 and located in Pasadena, California, ArtCenter College of Design ( is an international leader in art and design education. ArtCenter offers 11 undergraduate and seven graduate degrees in a wide variety of industrial design disciplines, as well as visual and applied arts. In addition to its top-ranked academic programs, the College also serves members of the Greater Los Angeles region through a highly regarded series of year-round educational programs for all ages and levels of experience. Renowned for both its ties to industry and social impact initiatives, ArtCenter is the first design school to receive the United Nations’ Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) status. Throughout the College’s long and storied history, ArtCenter alumni have had a profound impact on popular culture, the way we live and important issues in our society.

Media Contact:
Teri Bond
Media Relations Director
ArtCenter College of Design
626 396-2385

Photo of Karen Hofmann who won the IDSA Education Award.
ArtCenter Provost Karen Hofmann, recipient of the IDSA Education Award. Photo by Juan Posada.