AIGA Corporate Leadership Award

Filed Under: AIGA Medal

Established in 1980,  the AIGA Corporate Leadership Award recognizes the role of perceptive and forward-thinking organizations that have been instrumental in the advancement of design by applying the highest standards, as a matter of policy.

We are delighted to announce the 2019 AIGA Corporate Leadership Award goes to Microsoft.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft is recognized for leading the way around designing for inclusion, for its philanthropic and employee-focused practices, and for engaging AIGA and supporting its beliefs.

As partners in design, creativity, and equity, we’re honored to accept the 2019 AIGA Corporate Leadership Award. In today’s world, where technology continues to scale and impact the lives of billions, Microsoft’s mission is more crucial than ever: To empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. We can’t hope for that global reach without the undeniable impact of design.

Design is more than a flourish. It is an integral part of responsible product creation. Designers have a unique power to affect the soul of technology, and at Microsoft, that means imbuing our experiences with an ever-more important sense of trust. We design for inclusion—to create solutions for those who may be excluded and extend access to the greatest number of people.

Good design is invisible. It’s frictionless and fair. It considers the person behind the screen before the screen itself. Beyond brand identity, look and feel, colors and components, motion and material, design carries the weight of unintended consequences. At Microsoft, it’s our imperative to take care, and to design as corporate stewards of a greater world.

A sincere thanks to AIGA for this recognition.

Albert Shum, Corporate Vice President of Design, Microsoft
Tim Allen, Partner, Director of Design, Microsoft

AIGA Awards Ceremony

Congratulations to Microsoft! The AIGA Awards presentation was integrated into the closing ceremony of the AIGA Design Conference in Pasadena on April 6, 2019. After more than 15 years, the ceremony returned to the annual conference program, our largest event of the year for creatives across the country to gather, be inspired, and grow. Enjoy our favorite moments in an online photo gallery.

Watch this space and follow @AIGAdesign for updates on the 2020 Awards Ceremony to be held at the AIGA Design Conference in Pittsburgh.


To nominate a company, client, or organization whose mission and use of design has made a significant impact in the U.S., simply complete the nomination form, including the name, a short paragraph about why the company/organization should be considered, and a link to their website. Nominations are accepted on a rolling basis and are considered year after year for the next awards cycle. Each Fall (October/November), nominations for the Corporate Leadership Award are reviewed by an awards subcommittee of the national board of directors to verify eligibility. Yearly recommendations for the prize are then presented to the entire board for majority approval. Recipients of the award will be asked to produce and finance their own video and editorial content to help share their story with our members.

The 2019 Awards Committee:

  • Ashleigh Axios, Design Exponent, Automattic (AIGA Washington, DC)
  • Jennifer Morla, President and Creative Director, Morla Design (AIGA San Francisco)
  • Christine Taylor (chair), Creative Account Manager, Licensing, Hallmark Cards, Inc. (AIGA Kansas City)
  • Richard Ting, EVP, Global Chief Experience Officer and Partner, R/GA Ventures (AIGA New York)
  • Forest Young, Global Principal, Wolff Olins (AIGA San Francisco)

The board asked AIGA president, Dana Arnett, vice chairman and founding partner, VSA Partners (AIGA Chicago), to participate in the committee deliberations as a non-voting member and observer to provide guidance on the criteria for multiple awards. Additional guidance provided by Connie Birdsall.

Selection criteria

The recipients of this award demonstrate respect for the millions whose lives they touch, a rare commitment to consistency and quality, and a model for the successful interaction between aesthetics and pragmatics. Eligibility is open to global companies and organizations that have a strong presence and offices based out of the United States.

The AIGA board of directors has issued the following instructions:

  • Design excellence, the company/organization is perceived as attaining a level of holistic design excellence—across all facets of their experience, systems, products, and services.
  • Economic impact, the company/organization has demonstrated how use of design practices has made a significant and measurable economic impact on the products, brands, and areas important to the success of the entire enterprise.
  • Sustainability, the company/organization has shown how use of design practices has made significant and measurable sustainability and/or environmental improvements on the products, brands, and areas important to the success of the entire enterprise.
  • Social responsibility, the organization has made a significant contribution to support the development of design as a force for good in their organization as well as in the external community in the U.S. or globally.
  • Commitment, the organization can demonstrate it has met the above criteria for the last five years.



Microsoft, 2019 Recognized for leading the way around designing for inclusion, for its philanthropic and employee-focused practices, and for engaging AIGA and supporting its beliefs. 
Google, 2018 Recognized for exemplifying design’s potential to delight users, inspire visionary products and services, fuel innovation in every facet of its business, and improve our world.
Bloomberg L.P., 2017  
Method, 2010  
Tiffany & Co., 2010  


JetBlue, 2009  
Patagonia, 2009  
Design Within Reach, 2008  
Harley-Davidson, 2008 Recognized for its strength as an iconic brand, embracing its heritage while continually evolving what it means to be an American classic. 
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, 2007 Recognized for its dedication to creative living by making the ideas, tools and methods of everyday design both accessible and practical.
Samsung, 2007 Recognized as a global leader in design-driven, user-centered, technologically innovative consumer electronics. 
MTV Networks, a Viacom Company, 2006 Recognized for creating influential television networks—MTV, Vh1, TV Land, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon—which use design to communicate added value, assuming a role in the industry as design leaders, and producing brands known to the world over as cultural icons. 
Target Corporation, 2006 Recognized for changing the cultural understanding and appreciation of design, communicating the importance of design to consumers, and its steadfast commitment to championing and advocating design. 
The Gillette Company, 2005 Recognized for demonstrating that design can create value by driving innovation and connecting with the hearts and minds of consumers.
Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005 Recognized for fostering the power of design to help people communicate, celebrate, connect; and understanding that design is a strategic force as well as a means of human engagement.


Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1999  
Champion International Corporation, 1998  
Nike, Inc., 1993  
Sesame Street, Children's Television Workshop, 1992  
MTV, 1991 Innovators in multimedia design for contemporary culture.
Olivetti, 1991 Advancing corporate presence through design excellence. 
The National Park Service, 1990 For a continued commitment to design excellence. 


Adobe Systems, 1989 For their contribution to the advancement of graphic design. 
Apple, 1989 For their contribution to the advancement of graphic design. 
The New York Times, 1988 For continuing excellence in newspaper design. 
Walker Arts Center, 1987 For leadership in raising awareness of the role of design in our culture. 
Esprit, 1986 For the vitality and exuberance of their commitment to excellence in design. 
WGBH Educational Foundation, Inc., 1985  
Herman Miller, Inc., 1984  
Cummins Engine Company, Inc., 1983  
Container Corporation of America, 1982  
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1981 For recognizing the cultural and communicative value of excellent graphic design. 
IBM Corporation, 1980 To IBM whose overall commitment to design has consistently resulted in the highest standards of graphic design. 


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We are accepting nominations for three awards: AIGA Medal, Corporate Leadership Award, and the Steven Heller Prize for Cultural Commentary.