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In 1914, AIGA was founded by a small group of printers, illustrators and publishers as the American Institute of Graphic Arts. The term “graphic design” did not even appear for the next two decades, until coined by an AIGA member.
Over the years, AIGA has remained vital to the design profession by constantly adapting to changes in focus within the communication design field, from book and type design (Fred Goudy signed the articles of incorporation) to editorial design in the 1930s and 1940s; corporate identity design in the 1950s and 1960s (as multinational corporations grew); brand design in the 1980s and 1990s; and interaction design, motion design, design strategy and service design as the millennium dawned. After deliberations with its board and chapter leadership, AIGA changed its official name in 2005 to “AIGA, the professional association for design,” to reflect an evolving profession and welcome all design disciplines. This consistent growth and development, serving design’s legacy and its new forms and dimensions, is central to AIGA’s role in the design community.
As AIGA approaches its centennial, there exists a moment to redouble our recognition of the critical attributes of modern design practice. This practice is not a reflection of any single skill, such as craft or a way of thinking. What makes designers most valuable are the interrelated dimensions of their contribution: head, heart and hand.
wear many hats during a single project, serving not only in a “designer” capacity but also consulting on branding, marketing and communication strategy. The designer’s role in solving complex problems and forging strategy resides in the head.
of the designer's unusual attributes is the ability to join creativity, inspiration and empathy; it gives him or her an advantage in crafting human-centered solutions to
problems. The designer’s heart is
fundamental to his or her interest in improving the human experience and is
manifested in work that has positive social impact—as well as an aesthetic and business
Ultimately, what makes designers unique is their talent for
crafting beautiful, engaging solutions that make
experiences meaningful, clear and
even emotional. While “head” and “heart” speak to AIGA members’ activities relating to
business and social impact, design’s power and special gift is found in the hand, or craft.
Designers may emphasize different competencies as they approach different engagements. Yet the characteristic that makes all designers unique is their capacity to balance head, heart and hand, which are driven by inspiration, creativity and thoughtfulness. AIGA is committed to representing design that achieves excellence through this fusion; AIGA’s activities will inevitably vary in their emphasis on each attribute but they will always be grounded in a respect for the talent of the designer.
We welcome your comments. How do strategy (head), empathy (heart) and craft (hand) fit into your daily design practice?
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.
Executive Director Richard Grefé explains why the AIGA experience must be defined as a powerful community of many
creative, inspired and aspiring designers, replacing the perception of a century-old institution that prided itself on expressing an
authoritative view of design excellence.
Section: About AIGA -
AIGA Insight, advocacy, AIGA news
Beginning this month, AIGA is shifting from a membership model based on the stage of an individual’s career to one that reflects the member’s interest in, and commitment to, AIGA and the design profession. Executive Director Richard Grefé discusses the change and describes AIGA’s aim to achieve a more open and inclusive community.
To augment the hundreds of local events and activities developed and hosted each year by AIGA members through local chapters, AIGA produces these national programs to support all members.
Section: About AIGA -
In 2014 AIGA turns 100. AIGA is celebrating this moment by looking forward toward inspiration, relevance, leadership and opportunity for every designer in the decades ahead.
It is with great sorrow that we announce that William Drenttel, AIGA president 1994–1996, died on December 21, 2013, after a year-and-a-half struggle with brain cancer. He was 60 years old.
For an in-house designer, what is the secret to securing great relationships with clients? Business coach Rena DeLevie proposes a four-point contract for establishing and maintaining a productive alliance, outlining simple yet surprisingly effective strategies that designers can adopt and implement on a daily basis.
Section: Inspiration -
in-house design, in-house issues, INitiative, advice
Charles S. Anderson is recognized with a 2014 AIGA Medal for creating a design language that elevates the vernacular into a playful, modern design style and pioneering the role of designer as entrepreneur.
Section: Inspiration -
illustration, communication design, editorial design, graphic design, packaging, print design, product design, AIGA Medal
Camp Firebelly 2014 Call for Applications
April 19, 2014
Final Call for Board Nominations
Make A Good Impression: Portfolio Review Tips 2014
April 17, 2014
The Evolution Door: Klemens Torggler
April 14, 2014
Lead Designer EdLab at Teachers College Columbia University
New York, New YorkMarch 27 2014