Change is everywhere, everyday. It can seem relentless and
unexpected, even daunting in anticipation. But it can also be
We are surrounded by “new.” New economy. New channels. New
communities. New civic perspective. New social contract. New
opportunities for innovation. New expectations of designers. New
designers. New markets.
New acceptance of both new and old attributes for design:
strategic, problem-solving, cross-disciplinary, sustainable,
authentic, simple, multicultural, empathetic, human-centered,
global, socially responsible, open source.
Designers must take advantage of this momentum. Why? Because
demonstrating relevance and leadership during this time of change
will create opportunities to add value to business and society,
which in turn will strengthen the design profession—and secure its
AIGA will use this year to pivot toward the objectives outlined
in the “Mandate
for 2014,” developed from member input and considering the
elements of change occurring around us. As we move forward, it is
useful to look back at the specific instruction from members that
continues to provide guidance on this change.
AIGA should place a higher priority on contributing to
long-term benefits for the profession, such as building
stronger demand for design in the future—and less emphasis on
individual member benefits.
In advocating design's value to business, AIGA should focus
on the results of design strategy as a competitive
advantage—developing case studies of business effectiveness and
defining the value of design on business objectives.
In tone, the AIGA experience should focus on younger
designers' interests and needs, in order to attract the next
generation of designers to membership.
In content, programsshould reflect business
practices, leadership, values, ethics and standards, in order
to respect the interests of mid-career and seasoned designers.
AIGA should focus more on facilitating opportunities for
member engagement, member originated content, member involvement
and the expression of personal opinion than on reinforcing its
Reflecting the interests and needs of students and emerging
designers, AIGA should develop programs and activities that
highlight opportunities for social responsibility, social
engagement, sustainability, multiculturalism and diversity.
These are critical to the long-term strength and relevance of the
profession and AIGA.
By 2014, the organization that members have envisioned will
begin to develop these characteristics. But already, you'll see
significant change manifesting beginning this year.
competitions have changed; design excellence will be
defined with an emphasis on design's effectiveness as well as
aesthetics. Categories have been changed and simplified to
recognize the range of design disciplines involved in many projects
and AIGA will begin to focus on case studies on the process
and value of design.
Our web presence will change significantly later this
year, redefining the AIGA experience to focus on member- and
chapter-contributed content. (If you would like to be involved in
beta testing, let us
know.) The site will offer daily examples of design excellence,
with opportunities for member input as well as expert jury
AIGA is working to create a strong core of programs for
professional development. The first iteration of this will begin in
April, when you'll see a new series of webinars, focused on
professional practice and new technologies shaping the design
Our newest program Design for Good, launching later this
spring, will help designers assume a role in the broader
business, social and cultural environments. Through working with
nonprofit and community organizations on projects for the social
good, designers will expand appreciation of the value of design and
Our conferences are changing. You may already have
noticed that our Events section is
populated with smaller, more focused events organized by our
chapters. “Pivot: AIGA Design Conference” in Phoenix this fall will
take a new form for national AIGA conferences, in which the focus
will be less on the main-stage presentations and more on smaller
sessions fueled by the profession's most passionate and influential
voices. Come to Phoenix for the conversations we are all eager to
be having. While AIGA is shifting, this conference will take on all
of our challenges, revealing where each designer must shift toward
new perspectives, skill sets and, most of all, contexts, in order
to demonstrate that design can defeat habit, enlighten and inspire
the public and create value for business and society. We hope you will join
Through all this change, AIGA is working hard to pivot the
organization—toward new means of serving the design community and
helping designers to empower themselves. As always, we welcome your
questions and comments.
Richard Grefé is the executive director of AIGA, the professional association for design. While guiding all of AIGA’s activities, his most significant contributions are in strategy, formulating new initiatives to enhance the competitive success of designers
and advocating the value of design to business, government and the public.
AIGA’s chapters allow our members to form powerful social and
professional bonds through conferences, competitions, lectures and
Section: About AIGA -
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