Letter from the editor

We are now participating in a global economy that is undergoing a radical transformation. Our institutions, organizations and communities are facing complex challenges, coping with daunting speed, to market issues, fierce overseas manufacturing competition and financial turbulence. Given the current economic landscape, we can longer assume that if we follow the present path we will simply evolve toward a better world. Our journey out of these difficulties will need to be carefully considered by business leaders and designer leaders alike.

Debbie Millman (photo: Maryanne Russell)

One of the most interesting common denominators between the practices of design and business is this: the essence of both is about problem solving. And behind every solution—whether it may be a design dilemma or a business proposition—is a process. This process transcends both design and business to create meaning and purpose.

If you are developing a marketing strategy, or streamlining a manufacturing operation, or building a new system for innovation—if you work almost anywhere in the world of business today—you are now also engaged in the discipline of design. The result of this bilingual ability can be seen in companies creating wonderfully elegant and refined products that not only taste different and feel different and look different. Even more importantly, these products are making a difference in our lives.

Business and design skills are converging in ways previously unimagined and the recognition of this new design literacy is fueling growth and innovation in the most progressive and successful companies. The use of effective, innovative design is proving to the world's economy that scale alone is not enough to thrive in a world where markets are rapidly globalizing. The most valuable contribution now comes from using the designer's most competitive weapon: imagination. Designers have imagination in abundance. We are uniquely qualified to participate in the design of our future—and we must.

Welcome to the reinvigoration of Gain: AIGA Journal of Business and Design. The first issue of Gain was launched in 2000, by founding editor David R. Brown and editorial director Andrea Codrington; they were followed by Gong Szeto and David Womack, and most recently Karen McGrane and Liz Danzico (archives are all available). Over time they developed the current mission statement, which we will continue to foster:

Gain is dedicated to stimulating thinking at the intersection of design and business. Through rigorous case studies and thoughtful interviews, the journal demonstrates how the process of design can be used to solve business problems, foster innovation, build meaningful customer relationships and differentiate products from competitors.”

As we approach the biannual “Gain: AIGA Business and Design Conference” in New York City this October 23–25, we will be working to bring you articles and information from some of the confirmed speakers, as well provide insightful content from some of today's leading design and business thinkers. We look forward to re-engaging this important discussion and welcome your comments, suggestions and ideas.

About the Author:

 Debbie Millman is a designer, author, educator and brand strategist. She is host of the award-winning podcast “Design Matters,” Chair of the world’s first Masters in Branding Program at the School of Visual Arts, CMP of Sterling Brands, President Emeritus of AIGA, and the Editorial & Creative Director of Print Magazine. She is the author of six books on design and branding.