Meet AIGA’s Awards Recipients, representing the vibrant spectrum of design excellence


May 06, 2021

Media Contact

Michelle Koenigsknecht

(212) 710-3138

New York, NY—AIGA, the professional association for design is pleased to announce the recipients of the AIGA Medal, Steven Heller Prize for Cultural Commentary, and the AIGA Corporate Leadership Award. The four recipients of the AIGA Medal and two recipients of the Steven Heller Prize for Cultural Commentary will be recognized at the AIGA Design Conference, which will take place virtually September 20–24, 2021. The recipient of the AIGA Corporate Leadership Award will be recognized at the AIGA Design + Business Conference which will take place virtually May 12–14, 2021.

Since 1920, AIGA has awarded the AIGA Medal, one of the highest distinctions in the field, to designers whose influence, careers, and bodies of work represent exemplary and unique stories of dedication to craft, career growth, and the tightly woven fabric of design, technology, culture, and society. Established in 2017, the Steven Heller Prize for Cultural Commentary celebrates critical thinking about design and the profession, and encourages development in the next generation of design voices through a variety of media.

The slate of AIGA Award recipients selected in April 2020 and, announced today, connect the past and present. “This is a slate of giants within our profession. Together, they inspire us to consider design as a vehicle to broaden the voices we amplify, to expand access to the profession, reimagine the very boundaries of what it is we do, and also to realize we must be vigilant in recognizing great practitioners, and not to overlook any shining stars in their prime who are overshadowed,” said Forest Young, co-chair of this year’s Medalist Committee and Chief Creative Officer, Wolff Olins. “This distinguished group of awardees represent design’s singular ability to encompass multiple futures while reflecting a truer and more inclusive story of our exceptional and expansive past,” said Hugh Weber, co-chair of this year’s Medalist Committee and Managing Director, We Must Be Bold and The Great Discontent.

AIGA Awards recipients include:

Archie Boston, Jr.
AIGA Medalist “Expanding Voice”

Boston is recognized for his longstanding commitment to his students as an educator, mentor, and profound influence on the community of Los Angeles, as well as his bold, funny, polemical designs from a lifetime body of work.

Cheryl D. Miller
AIGA Medalist “Expanding Access”

Miller is recognized for her outsized influence within the profession to end the marginalization of BIPOC designers through her civil rights activism, industry exposé writing, research rigor, and archival vision.

Terry Irwin
AIGA Medalist “Expanding Envelope”

Irwin is recognized for her vision and enduring provocation to shape design education and philosophy through Transition Design—the need for societal transitions towards more sustainable and plural futures.

Thomas Miller
Honorary AIGA Medalist (posthumous) “Expanding Recognition”

Miller is recognized for his tenacity and impeccable craft as a pioneering graphic designer and art director for global brands—based in Chicago, whose work culminated in the timeless DuSable Museum mosaics.

Johanna Drucker
Steven Heller Prize for Cultural Commentary

Drucker is recognized for her prolific yet unpredictable work as a leading scholar of graphic design, print culture, and book history as well as her impact through graphic design history textbooks to shape students and welcome the next generation of designers.

Alissa Walker
Steven Heller Prize for Cultural Commentary

Walker is recognized for her writing on design and urbanism to promote design issues and thinking to a mass readership as well as her commentary on public transportation and walking to connect people with where they live.

Warby Parker
AIGA Corporate Leadership Award

Warby Parker is recognized for changing the eyewear industry by pioneering ideas, designing products and experiences, making proper vision care more affordable and accessible, and for leading the way for socially conscious businesses.

Bennie F. Johnson, AIGA’s executive director, said, “This year’s awardees embody how design and designers impact culture and drive change in our world. This groundbreaking slate of award winners exemplifies the past, present, and future of not only our design community, but also design adjacent thought leaders and innovators, giving us the opportunity to create new conversations.”

To learn more about AIGA’s awards, click here.

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.