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Recognized for changing the cultural understanding and
appreciation of design, communicating the importance of design to
consumers, and its steadfast commitment to championing and
Target's first store opened in 1962 with a commitment to
carrying attractive, well-engineered merchandise at affordable
prices. By stocking its shelves with name-brand lines and
fashion-forward products, it came to occupy a rather commanding, if
contradictory, niche in the marketplace: Target became the world's
first upscale discount retailer.
But it was in 1999 that Target revolutionized the discount
retail experience completely, tapping legendary architect and
industrial designer Michael Graves to create a line of signature
housewares. From cookware to fashion to home décor, a world-class
list of designers including Graves, Thomas O'Brien, Isaac Mizrahi,
Philippe Starck, and the late Stephen Sprouse, have since appended
“for Target” to their newest creations, and the Target name became
forever synonymous with great design.
“Design for All” became Target's mantra in 2002, with a special
website launched to communicate the value of design and its role in
everyday life. And, as Target explains, while good design does mean
chic cashmere sweaters and ergonomic kitchen utensils, it also
means promoting creativity, innovation and technology. And, perhaps
most importantly, Target believes that design means a commitment to
better living, as affirmed by its own in-house design pursuits.
Target has recently adopted Deborah Adler's revolutionary ClearRx
prescription bottle design throughout its pharmacies, championed
the environmentally-responsible Method cleaning products in their
stores, and designed a home emergency preparedness kit.
As the second-largest general merchandise retailer in the United
States, with 1,443 stores in 47 states employing nearly 300,000
people, Target has also vowed to bring great design to the
communities it serves. The company donates 5 percent of all pre-tax
profit back to its communities, resulting in more than $2 million
per week returned to Target neighborhoods. This includes grants for
museums, arts events, and volunteerism in design schools and
programs. Several education programs, notably the Design Explorers
program in partnership with AIGA, instill the importance of design
in young people.
The dedication to great design carries through to marketing
Target's own brand. Target's advertising and design is consistently
awarded in international competitions; flashy, fun TV spots which
combine cutting-edge music video direction with spot-on animation
are some of the most memorable commercials in recent history. The
company nearly owns the color red, too: manufacturers often create
special red versions of products for Target stores. The logo
itself, Target's bullseye brandmark, carries such cache it has
snagged the eye of high fashion. A line of clothing and accessory
pieces with the Target logo are sold in upscale boutiques, making
it almost certainly the only discount retailer to have its products
sold in other retail stores.
Stepping inside the brand experience at one of Target's stores,
the meticulous nature of Target's design philosophy truly comes to
life. Of course, the stores are delightfully smart: aisles are
wide, shelves are bright, packaging is thoughtful, signage is
unmistakable. But Target's true brilliance is the clever balance of
both what products it carries and how it carries them. By placing
well-designed products alongside the basic needs for living, Target
has made good design look indispensable—as much of a necessity as
The AIGA Corporate Leadership Award was established to recognize the role of perceptive and forward-thinking organizations.
Section: Inspiration -
awards, design educators, students
I’m sure many of us know at least one person who’s paused in awe on their five- or ten-year anniversary at a company and wondered aloud, “How have I been here so long without realizing it?” We often live with blinders on, looking straight ahead for long periods of time without so much as glancing around us.
Section: Inspiration -
career, job search, professional development, advice
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