Otis College of Art and Design’

Otis College of Art and Design’s O-Launch ’22 is a weekend spanning its Annual Exhibition, Fashion Show and Commencement that takes place May 13 to 15.

Otis College celebrates a return to in-person talent showcase weekend


Graduation is a big deal at any institution of learning, but for Otis College, 2022 marks the return of O-Launch, a series of weekend events that showcases the talents and accomplishments of their students, particularly their graduates. And by showcasing their students, they cast a light on what they predict will be the future of art and design.

For Otis College president Charles Hirschhorn and Provost Jiseon Lee Isbara, both of whom took on their positions in Summer 2020, this year’s O-Launch is special because it marks a return to in-person events which had been previously moved to remote and virtual offerings because of the pandemic.

“What’s important is to celebrate both student achievement, which we always try to celebrate, but uniquely in 2022 to celebrate the fact that we’re returning to do it in person,” Hirschhorn said.

The weekend of events begins on Thursday, May 12 and ends Sunday, May 15.

The opening event is a reception to mark the silver anniversary of Otis’ toy design department. At 6 pm. on Thursday, May 12, they’ll host a reception and show off the work of the 2022 graduates.

“It’s for the people in the department, but also for the people who have contributed to the success over the past 25 years,” Hirschhorn said. “(It will include) former faculty members, former students, former contributors, particularly Mattel employees who were very helpful in the launch of the department, as well as existing faculty and staff.”

“The toy design program always worked very closely with our industry partners,” Isbara added, saying those companies will have representatives that will join them at the reception.

On Friday, the college will host:

• Industry Preview (4 p.m. to 6 p.m.): Creative employers from throughout Los Angeles can come and preview the work of the 2022 graduates. Senior projects will be on display and employers and students can meet and network.

• Opening Reception (6 p.m. to 9 p.m.): During this reception, students, alumni and friends of the College can come and preview graduating students’ work. Food and drink will be provided.

• Otis Ceramic Student Sale (Friday and Saturday, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.): Otis College instructor Joan Takayama-Ogawa organizes the sale of student ceramics. It will take place each evening in the Clay Studio in the College’s Galef Building.

On Saturday, events include:

• Annual exhibition (12 p.m. to 9 p.m.): The exhibition will be both in person and online and will showcase the work of students graduating from both the BFA and MFA programs and the Interdisciplinary Studies programs.

• Fashion Show (7:45 p.m.): Held in the campus commons, the annual runway show will feature work by the junior and senior class under the guidance of industry professionals from top companies like Nike and Patagonia. This year’s theme, “Agents of Change,” highlights and explores sustainable design principles.

On Sunday, the College will host the commencement at noon, which will be held at the Westin LAX hotel. It will award honorary degrees to the founder and CEO of KORA Organics, supermodel Miranda Kerr, and co-founder and CEO of Snap Inc., Evan Spiegel.

The exhibition and fashion show marks a departure from past traditions in which the fashion show was a benefit/fundraiser that came with a high ticket price.

“This time, we’re actually doing it on campus and making it accessible for various audiences on Saturday,” Isbara said. “There will be fundraising at different locations the week before that.”

The “Agents of Change” theme has come out of an ongoing focus of the college as the importance of eco-friendly design has grown among professional designers.

“Sustainability has been a core theme of the curriculum in recent years as it has been an important topic in the industry itself and also for the environment,” Isbara said. “They partnered with Nike and Patagonia this year and their designers have been mentoring our students. The idea of sustainability is embedded in both the choosing and making of the work.”

As they’ve gone into the planning of this year’s commencement activities, the leaders of Otis College have had time to think intentionally about what they wanted to do once they were able to return to in-person events and how they want things to be different going forward.

“There’s a real effort to be much more inclusive, to include the community more,” Hirschhorn said. “The fashion show, which used to be sort of an expensive fundraiser benefits, is now on Saturday and free and open to the public. I think all these events will be exciting.”

The president hopes excitement will be the order of the day, an emotion that he said he’s genuinely been feeling in the weeks leading up to commencement.

“I’ve never seen the students’ work in person at the end of the year,” Hirschhorn said. “I’ve attended two remote commencements and seen their portfolios online, but I’ve never seen their portfolios in person and all their work in person. So I’m as excited as anyone, probably more excited. There is an energy when people get together that elevates the experience. I’m looking forward to that.”

Isbara said the events of the O-Launch really give a variety of students a chance to showcase things that matter to them and that are close to their heart. As they showcase the future, they hope that the community will come out and celebrate with them at O-Launch events.

“Our students are very diverse and come mostly from California or internationally,” Isbara said. “We have students with various backgrounds. Design education in K-12 is not readily available, so this is really time that they spent four years in depth to pursue their dream in art and design careers. It is the first time that they are going to show the entirety and collection of their work to their peers and industry leaders. Our goal is to inspire our students to continue and then go out there and become a change agent in their career and in the industry.” 


Otis College of Art and Design

9045 Lincoln Boulevard, Los Angeles