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If you weren't able to attend the first webinar of our six-part series—“Breakthroughs: Where Inspiration and Technology Meet”—let me sum things up for you with a few pivotal words: Complication. Democratization. Commodification. Devaluation. Education. Exploration. Articulation. Inspiration.
In an effort to help AIGA members bridge the digital and analog gaps in design practice, our first webinar was meant to be an overview of the series—a keynote, if you will. Our guest speakers were Rob Girling, founder and principal of Artefact, and Kiyo Toma, product manager for Adobe.
Today's designers are tasked with designing products and communications for which the context in which they're consumed is unknown. Consequently, design artifacts need to be dynamic and flexible. While designing for a book or printed piece, the end form is fixed and immutable. Not so when designing for today's media consumption devices. Designers must be able to design once for a variety of different screen sizes and contexts.
Technological innovations and the do-it-yourself design movement mean designing is no longer the domain of a chosen, educated few. More than ever before, everyone is a designer.
As a result of the democratization of design, design has been devalued and is being commodified (read about Rob Walker's recent foray into outsourcing a logo for $200). Designers need to expand their repertoire, cultivating skills that are difficult to outsource.
Design education should be agnostic rather than specialized. T-shaped rather than I-shaped, having not only depth of knowledge but multidisciplinary breadth as well.
Whether or not you're a designer, expanding your skill set means exploration. Exploring new technologies, methodologies, and thought processes that force you out of your comfort zone.
Designers need to be able to speak the language of business. And, increasingly, the language of engineering. It's up to designers to learn the vocabularies needed to communicate the value of design to business managers and executives. Designers must earn their spot in the boardroom.
Through collaborating with people of other disciplines and via online resources (such as this webinar), designers can inspire and be inspired. Inspiration is important. When we're stuck or unmotivated, seeing a problem through a different lens can help us push past creative blocks. Others serves as new lens for us; we are fresh lenses for others.
I could end this summary by repeating an old cliché: technology is radically changing the way we design and designers need to keep up with these changes. It is and we do. But design as a recognized field is a relatively young discipline, and with the exception of typography, spawned in large part by the industrial age. So historically speaking, has there ever been a time when designers haven't had to respond quickly and nimbly to change? Has there ever been a time when design stood still? Alexey Brodovitch and Bradbury Thompson had to keep up with rapidly evolving printing and color reproductions technologies in order to produce their revolutionary magazine layouts. Charles and Ray Eames were constantly exploring the boundaries of materials science, evidenced in their iconic furniture designs and equipment for the U.S. military. Being a designer means being a technologist.
For our own good as well as the good of our profession, we need to collectively roll up our sleeves and keep on working. One audience member asked about recommendations of tools and resources. Here's a list of those that were mentioned:
Also recommended by Rob:
Resources for shared spaces and collaboration:
Join us for the next AIGA-members-only webinar on June 22, "Devices Everywhere," with Michael Surtees of Gesture Theory.
Great designers need more than good ideas to succeed. In this exclusive members-only webinar series, visionary
designers pair with Adobe experts to offer guidance to help lead
you to your next breakthrough.
Section: Tools and Resources -
Why do so many good designs get trampled during the product development process? Adlin and Pruitt hash out why the process is rife with disagreements and compromises despite best intentions.
Section: Why Design -
product design, collaboration, business, students
In late July, National Public Radio launched a new and improved website. Senior interaction designer Neylan describes the massive task.
Section: Why Design -
experience design, web design, students
Alexey Brodovitch, art director of Harper’s Bazaar for nearly a quarter of a century and recipient of a 1987 AIGA Medal, played a crucial role in introducing into the United States a radically simplified graphic design style forged in Europe in the 1920s. He also defined the modern magazine director as one who takes an active role in conceiving and commissioning all forms of graphic art, and he specialized in discovering and showcasing young and unknown talent, particularly photographers.
Section: Inspiration -
AIGA Medal, photography, editorial design
Designer and educator (and AIGA Fellow and Medalist) Meredith Davis on the growing role of trade organizations in the design community, and how they must work not only together, but with everyone from individuals to universities to extend the reach and relevance of the industry.
Section: Inspiration -
personal essay, education, students
Design feedback shouldn't be a painful process. In fact, if it's a painful process, I'd say someone's not doing it right. The most successful projects are usually ones with a collaborative workflow between a well-balanced team of designers, developers, project management, and of course — clients! It's essential to have a healthy feedback process, in which the client knows exactly what feedback is most helpful for the next round of revisions, and the designers and developers know how to translate and solve those problems.
I know, I know, both web teams and people who have hired web teams are out there groaning right now (we get it, and this isn't a soapbox). Everyone has had their fair share of difficult projects and poor communication, but it doesn't have to be that way. In efforts to improve the feedback process for web clients and design teams alike, I'm writing this two-part article about How to Give Good Web Design Feedback, and Turning Client Feedback Into Your Best Work.
Combining the lovely photos of Julie Pierce with my design talents, we created a calendar to raise money for an animal charity.
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