Welcome to the best week ever for design!

Eighteen months ago, AIGA's national board of directors met in California for an annual meeting to review the goals and strategies of our organization on behalf of more than 20,000 professional and student members. Board members Stanley Hainsworth and Kenna Kay proposed ways to heighten the impact of AIGA's activities, including efforts to expand AIGA's conferences from standalone events to more of a “design movement” that would coincide with a weeklong flurry of activities including a film festival, additional conferences, an awards ceremony, studio tours and a plethora of opportunities for both designers and the general public to be inspired and moved by the power of design.

I remember a hush went over the room that day; we were all mesmerized and daunted by their ambitions. Yet this week we are proud to present to you the 2010 “Gain: Design and Business Conference,” with the very appropriate theme “Design (Re)Invents.” Through the tireless efforts of the national staff, the hard work of the “Gain” committee, led by Stanley and Kenna, the help of some amazing partners and the coordination of local chapters, we have an exciting week in store.

This week the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum presents its National Design Awards, along with a number of related activities. We have linked with F+W's “Mind Your Own Business” conference; brought in several of Fast Company's “Masters of Design,” who will be recognized this week, to speak at “Gain”; planned smaller events in honor of Milton Glaser, one of our profession's most brilliant “reinventors” and a 2010 National Medal of the Arts recipient, whose exhibition of recent work is on display at the AIGA National Design Center; and encouraged other open and private events that could draw on the designers who will visit New York during this week.

National Design Week is now underway in New York City and beyond. Here are some highlights:

Gain: AIGA Design and Business Conference

October 14–16

AIGA's biennial conference on design and business kicks off Thursday, October 14, with local studio tours hosted by AIGA/NY and select pre-conference professional development workshops. “Gain” is the cornerstone of the week's design events in New York City, and represents two full days of learning how industry leaders have addressed business challenges through design. “Gain” attendees will meet the brightest minds in design and business for incomparable inspiration, learn how to innovate through design, network with peers from across the country and close out the week with exclusive after-hours viewing of the National Design Triennial. Of course, “Gain” would not be possible without the generosity of Presenting Sponsors American Printing, Aquent, Neenah Paper and Pantone.

AIGA is committed to extending the insights from national events into the public arena, so that designers and business leaders worldwide may benefit. Videos of select “Gain” presentations, along with full-text transcripts and closed-captioning for the hearing impaired, will be posted later this fall. If you plan to be in New York this week, you cannot miss this event! The most valuable discussions will continue beyond the stage with networking receptions, evening events and more to engage with ideas and with each other—a value that simply can't be replicated online. Join or follow the discussions at @AIGAconference and search for #GainConference tweets on Twitter.

National Design Week & Awards

October 9–17

During its fifth annual National Design Week, the Cooper-Hewitt offers free admission to the National Design Triennial “Why Design Now,” along with a series of public programs and a range of online resources for students, teachers, design professionals and the general public to celebrate the important role that design plays in all aspects of daily life.

National Design Week is held in conjunction with Cooper-Hewitt's most visible public education program, the National Design Awards, which recognize the best in American design across a range of disciplines to promote excellence and innovation in design. The 2010 recipients will be honored at a gala dinner on Thursday, October 14, followed by an after-party.

Mind Your Own Business Conference

October 12–14

If you're a design firm principal, now more than ever, it's essential to step back from the day-to-day and rethink how you do business. HOW magazine's “Mind Your Own Business Conference”—co-located with the “Gain” conference at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers—is a key tool for making your creative firm indispensible to current clients and irresistible to new prospects. At “MYOB,” the country's foremost business consultants will be on hand to answer your most pressing questions about your firm with three days of close-up, nuts-and-bolts problem solving combined with big-picture, long-term planning, with a reduced joint registration fee with “Gain” for AIGA members.

AIGA chapter events


Across the country, AIGA chapters are kicking off a busy fall filled with amazing local design events happening in your area. Even if you're not a member of AIGA, I can't recommend highly enough our local talks, activities and mixers. They're a great way to get your creative juices flowing, and a wonderful way to meet the fantastic community leaders—all volunteers, I might add—that make AIGA such a supportive and welcoming community. Check out the list of upcoming events on AIGA.org, or find your local chapter here.

Architecture and Design Film Festival

October 14–17

Held at Tribeca Cinemas, the very first U.S. film festival celebrating the creative spirit of architecture and design will feature a dynamic selection of feature length films, documentaries and shorts, including screenings of Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight and The Visual Language of Herbert Matter. Plus, there will be lively discussions with filmmakers, architects and designers about the design process, architecture in film, and the brilliant designs we see and use every day.

One of my most personal goals as president of AIGA has been to break down the barriers separating design specialties in order to use our collective talents more effectively. I am so pleased to be able to share this truly inclusive week of events with all 20,000 members of AIGA, and I would like to thank everyone who was involved in making this week's events a success for breaking down some of the barriers separating design specialties to use our collective talents to inspire and encourage designers everywhere.

Image credits: Paperclip art designed byDesign Army, as part of the 2010 “Gain: AIGA Design and Business Conference” identity;ribbon illustration by Ellen Lupton.

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.