• AIGA strategy webcast: Focus on design

    Part of the AIGA Insight series, which aims to meet members' expectations for openness and transparency

    AIGA plays a variety of roles as the professional association for design. It must:

    • Promote the value of design
    • Serve all designers as a profession
    • Serve its members, who support it
    • Look to being an effective organization 

    As the voice of the largest community of designers, AIGA gives voice to their interests, concerns and needs. And a significant interest is to create greater understanding of the value of design.

    In AIGA’s proposed strategic framework, the first of four focuses is on this largely outward-looking role: Focus on Design.

    For the sake of a higher-level discussion on what AIGA should be doing to serve the interests of members, we provide examples of current and proposed activities. In AIGA’s budgeting process, the activities would be developed completely, with purpose, expected outcomes, metrics for success and resource requirements.


    1. Establish AIGA as a respected, authoritative voice in matters of design
    This initiative involves undertaking and maintaining sufficient research to be an accurate source of information on design and designing. It also entails being accessible to the media and taking an active role in commenting on or correcting statements others make about design. AIGA is always seeking economists to work with to define the dynamics of the design economy. Success in this endeavor is measured when news organizations contact AIGA on stories about design to check facts and define perspectives.

    2. Represent interests of U.S. designers in matters of business practice, laws, civic experience and public perception
    This initiative involves advocating the interests of designers in legislation, in op-ed pieces, in clarifying business ethics and practices, and seeking new roles and recognition for designers. AIGA works with federal agencies and Congress to protect designers' interests; represents designers' interests with business and university leaders; and in forums of influential professionals such as TED, the World Economic Forum and Aspen Institute.

    3. Inspire designers and the public through the celebration of design excellence
    The value of design is most evident to all-designers and the public-when we are able to publish, celebrate and bring attention to examples of great design. This role, AIGA's traditional role, involves inspiring designers and the public alike. It involves holding annual design competitions and publishing results; mounting exhibitions to celebrate design excellence; connecting members with other sources of inspiration; and producing a biennial conference on design.

    4. Promote the value of design thinking
    Business and public sector agencies have discovered the value that comes from involving designers, and their capacity for integrative thinking, in solving complex business and social problems. "Design thinking" has become a business practice that is often seen as a means of encouraging innovation. AIGA's initiative is aimed at educating others about the value of the design mind in problem solving and seeing that when business pursues this approach, it engages designers and its members and not business consultants. It includes publishing case studies and research on the value of design.

    5. Promote the social impact and value of design
    AIGA has developed Design for Democracy-to improve the civic experience-and Design for Good-projects to make a difference in the human experience-for several reasons. First, to demonstrate the value of design by doing valuable things, e.g., things that affect others so that they can appreciate that design is more than their preconceptions. And, second, to help designers find a means of making a difference in the world with their special talents. This latter effort addresses the strong interest of younger designers. AIGA develops activities that can be pursued by individual designers, self-selecting groups of designers, chapters or national teams; it also creates demand for projects and shares resource materials for designers interested in these projects. 

    6. Recognize and preserve the creative achievements and legacy of designers
    AIGA has been the imprimatur of design excellence for a hundred years and has developed the largest online archive of design contemporaneously judged anywhere. AIGA will continue to recognize creative achievements through competitions and awards and will maintain accessible galleries of legacy design to assure sustained recognition of those who have defined the profession and to continue to influence future generations.

    7. Cultivate and stimulate dialogue on important design issues
    AIGA plays a role in stimulating thoughtful conversations on the issues that affect design and designers; it publishes authoritative points of view and encourages comment; and it convenes gatherings that develop opinions and consensus around issues that may be economic, technological, ethical or social.

    This session took place on August 20, 2013. Click here for the recording of this webcast.


    Richard GreféRichard Grefé, AIGA executive director
    Ric is the executive director of AIGA, the professional association for design. He is generally involved in all of AIGA's activities, although his major contributions are in strategy, formulating new initiatives to enhance the competitive success of designers and advocating the value of design.

    About this series

    AIGA is approaching its 100th anniversary in 2014, and the AIGA board of directors is developing a strategic plan to take the organization into its second century. We want to hear your input!

    To facilitate the conversation, we've published a series of Insight articles about AIGA's strategy. We invite all members to comment on the articles and participate in an "AIGA Strategy" series of webcasts with Ric Grefé and the board to learn more about AIGA's strategic framework and share your feedback.

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