AIGA Releases 2021 Design Point of View Industry Research


April 27, 2021

Media Contact

Michelle Koenigsknecht

(212) 710-3138

NEW YORK—Today, AIGA, the professional association for design, released the executive summary of the 2021 Design Point of View (POV) research, an in-depth analysis of the design profession. This ambitious new industry research initiative highlights industry demographics, marketplace intelligence, career pathways, the economic impacts of COVID, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and design industry trends. The findings provide insights into new work dynamics impacting the profession and developments and trends that will help designers, and the profession, evolve. 

“This major research initiative is an in-depth look at the design industry that will allow us to get a better understanding of the profession and its larger impact,” said AIGA Executive Director, Bennie F. Johnson. “AIGA’s goal with this new research is to build actionable insights into a dynamic profession that continues to evolve and expand in new directions. This ongoing research initiative will help us understand what the industry looks like today and tomorrow, and the ways in which design is transforming our world.” 

The Design POV research initiative provides the knowledge and understanding to grow and share resources for our profession which includes designers, creative agencies and studios, and companies leading through design. It creates opportunities for design as a professional craft, a strategic and business advantage, and as a catalyst for positive impact in our communities and the world at-large.  

This research initiative will cover the following themes: 

  • Market Reset—COVID-19 caused the marketplace to reset and this research looks at how the design industry is leading and showing value.
    • The impact of COVID is uneven. Some designers are busier than before though and have grown their practice during the crisis. Talent, optimism, and being future forward had never been more important as the level of competitiveness and uncertainty continued to skyrocket—6 out of 10 respondents believe design has a role to play in helping us emerge stronger from the crisis.
  • Future Forward—According to the design industry, new technologies are emerging that will have an impact on the profession.
    • According to the design community, new technologies such as AI/machine learning (49%), augmented reality/virtual reality (38%), collaborative design software (33%), online behavior tracking/modeling (28%); and telepresence/virtual workplaces (25%) are top emerging trends that will potentially have the biggest impact on the profession.
  • Lifelong Learning—Adaptability has never been more critical and is where the profession perceives its most significant competency gap. To stay current, we found that designers continue learning new skills on-and-off the job.
  • Design Pathways—From early inspiration to ongoing development, design career pathways are multifaceted and nonlinear. This research examines the ways in which designers enter the design industry.
  • Being a Designer—Being a designer is articulated by the community through three main lenses: a Skillset (“visual problem solver, experience creator, and communicator/ storyteller.”); a Mindset (“to be a designer is more so a way of thinking than doing.”); an Outcome–or Impactset (“force for change, progress, and good.”)
  • Design Leads—Design leads people and organizations, but leadership in the design industry is not always easy. Using a new index, AIGA Design ForwardTM, AIGA examines progress over time to help empower designers to be a force for change.
  • Creative Communities—The industry must invest in diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility. While women, younger professionals, LGBTQIA+, Asian Americans, and people with disabilities/difficulties, have higher representation in the community, dilemmas include: potential pay gaps, underrepresentation in leadership positions, and overall underrepresentation of certain groups in the profession. 
  • Market Intelligence—Every designer is a potential business. Based on our research, 4 out of 10 designers have two or more sources of income and continue to hone their entrepreneurial spirit.
  • Value of Design—Design is essential to organizations, strengthening brand equity, creating a culture of innovation, and improving financial performance. 
  • Design for Positive Impact—The design community continues to inspire and impress with its social conscience as approximately 1 out of 2 designers say they have volunteered their skills to help their communities during this trying time.

“What we found in this research is not only how much there is to celebrate in the design community, but also how much more needs to be done to continue creating a better community for all. These findings will help us better understand who makes up the profession and how we can create a sense of belonging and inclusiveness for the broader design community,” added AIGA’s Chief of Insights & Learning, Dr. Rubens Pessanha.

“The world has changed as we know it, and this new research from AIGA provides useful insights into adapting to and understanding our new reality, helping the design community to continue to deliver meaningful solutions for people. Design and designers are at the nexus of innovation and reimagining how we interact with each other and the world around us to drive positive change and produce a better world,” concluded PepsiCo’s Chief Design Officer, Mauro Porcini

The Design POV was made possible thanks to the support of PepsiCo. The next portion of the Design POV research focused on the market reset occurring due to the pandemic and future considerations for the industry will be released in May 2021. In June, AIGA will release new chapters on Design Leads and the Value of Design. Later this summer, information on what it means to be a designer, career pathways, market intelligence, lifelong learning, and creative communities demographics will be released. 


Media Contact

Michelle Koenigsknecht

(212) 710-3138


AIGA, the professional association for design, advances design as a professional craft, strategic advantage, and vital cultural force. As the largest community of design advocates, AIGA brings together practitioners, enthusiasts, and patrons to amplify the voice of design and creates the vision for a collective future. AIGA defines global standards and ethical practices, guides design education, inspires designers and the public, enhances professional development, and makes powerful tools and resources accessible to all.