Academy of Art University Partners With Monterey Bay Aquarium to Encourage Environmentally Friendly Fashion Designs in the Bay Area

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Academy’s Fashion and Industrial Design Students Use Donated Materials From the Aquarium to Create Recycled Consumer Products; Public is Encouraged to Vote on the Sustainable Designs on

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The Sea Fashion Challenge required students to reuse materials, think creatively, work in groups, and complete the project in a timely fashion – all skills they will have to master to be effective in the marketplace.

During the Fall 2011 semester, Academy of Art University students from the School of Industrial Design and the School of Fashion learned a valuable lesson about creating designs out of recycled materials, as they were challenged to come up with their own sustainable designs out of 700 feet worth of banners that had been previously used to promote the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The 72-foot long, 5 foot wide banners, which hung from the ceiling of the Hyatt in downtown San Francisco in July and August 2011 as part of a promotional campaign, were provided by the Aquarium to the Academy as part of the “Sea Fashion Challenge,” a collaboration between the organizations to encourage environmentally friendly designs in the Bay Area.

An exhibit of the student designs is currently on display at Atelier, 79 New Montgomery St in San Francisco, and available to view online at where the public can vote on their favorite piece of work. Prizes will be awarded to the winning designs, including a “Feeding Frenzy Tour” of the Aquarium for the First Place team, which includes a chance to serve breakfast to the animals; a Behind the Scenes Tour for the Second Place team; and 2 tickets to the Aquarium for each member of the Third Place team.

“Academy instructors are constantly coming up with new challenges to help students gain the skills they are going to need to be successful in the workforce,” said Elisa Stephens, President of the Academy of Art University. “The Sea Fashion Challenge required students to reuse materials, think creatively, work in groups, and complete the project in a timely fashion – all skills they will have to master to be effective in the marketplace. We appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with the Monterey Bay Aquarium and thank them for their support in helping Academy students obtain hands-on experience in sustainable design.”

Approximately twenty Academy students participated in the Sea Fashion Challenge which resulted in the creation of products including dresses, jackets, cushions, and a watch band. To learn more about the Aquarium’s sea turtle and penguin banners that
hung at the Hyatt Regency in downtown San Francisco, visit this New York Times story about the campaign

“The banners were so beautiful hanging in the Hyatt lobby, we were sorry to see them come down,” said Mimi Hahn, the Aquarium’s vice president of marketing. “We’re thrilled to have found a way not only to reuse them, but also to have them made into something unique and beautiful. Hopefully, the fashions inspire a connection to the oceans for the students who created them and people who see them.”

About the Monterey Bay Aquarium
The Monterey Bay Aquarium inspires conservation of the oceans through compelling live exhibits, a rich suite of educational programs and groundbreaking conservation research projects, as well as its Seafood Watch consumer guides. The aquarium is considered one of the world’s best, and has won several awards for its exhibits, programs and outreach. It opened in 1984 and hosts nearly 2 million visitors each year. Visit for more information.

About the Academy of Art University
Academy of Art University, the largest private university of art and design in the United States, is educating students for the art and design jobs of the 21st Century. Established in 1929, the Academy is an output-based higher education model that provides open admissions to all students, but imposes a rigorous curriculum that requires the students to produce a portfolio of work that demonstrates a mastery of their field in order to graduate. Students are taught by a faculty of professionals from the existing marketplace, which provides them with an understanding of what it takes to succeed in today’s business environment. The Academy’s hands-on curriculum produces graduates that possess great artistic and design skills -- and equally as important, the ability to put those talents to work immediately after graduation. As a result, Academy graduates are ready to compete for and win the jobs of the 21st Century in the fields of Acting, Advertising, Animation & Visual Effects, Architecture, Art Education, Fashion, Fine Art, Game Design, Graphic Design, Illustration, Industrial Design, Interior Architecture & Design, Landscape Architecture, Motion Pictures & Television, Multimedia Communications, Music Production & Sound Design for Visual Media, Photography and Web Design & New Media. Academy of Art University is accredited by WASC, NASAD, Council for Interior Design Accreditation (Formerly FIDER), (BFA-IAD), and NAAB (M-ARCH). Visit for more information.


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Lisa Cohen