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The AIGA Design Archives

Launched late last year in parallel to AIGA 365’s opening, the AIGA’s Design Archives is a record of juried events complete with visuals from past 365 competitions. This is nice to see.

The site was put together by Second Story (full site credits)—a firm who always make a fine showing in the interactive design competitions.

While it’s great to have this resource, I find the interface that is wrapped around the content a bit awkward. In typical Second Story manner, this is an entirely Flash based site, with plenty of custom widgets. But, that said, if you can’t experiment with interface design on an AIGA project, where can you?

And, the more I play with the site, the more I realize that the interface is perhaps ideally suited for this particular audience. As graphic designers, we pick up design annuals not to dig through the list of credits or to read the case studies, but to ogle the pretty pictures. And I think this interface does that quite nicely. Plenty of visual eye candy to keep even the most fidgety of graphic designers occupied for some time browsing through the massive amount of content on the site.

My only big complaint is the lack of ‘bookmarkability’. As the entire site is Flash based, I can’t bookmark specific pieces for later reference. However, they also seem to recognize this flaw and have a nice teaser hinting that they’ll be adding this feature soon.

In the end, perhaps the biggest benefit of this new site is that my wife can finally convince me to recycle the massive piles of dust covered design annuals I have hogging the bookshelves.

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ARCHIVE ID 2212 FILED UNDER Miscellaneous
PUBLISHED ON Feb.09.2005 BY darrel
Armin’s comment is:

The interface didn't seem that cumbersome to me. The only thing that bothers me a bit is the green box with the credits that pops when you rollover an image in the Archive section. It's good actually but as I move my eyes and rollover images the box tends to get in the way.

The zoom feature is excellent. It lets you get closer to each piece than you could in the printed annuals. And in some cases you can have a closer look than if you were holding the real piece in your hands. Plus it's fast and crisp.

> My only big complaint is the lack of ´┐Żbookmarkability’.

Maybe some sort of "lightbox" feature would be cool. I don't know if that's possible in Flash, but that's why I don't work at Second Story.

Overall, I think it's a great addition to the AIGA. Even though I'm afraid this well eventually (sooner rather than later surely) will replace the printed annuals. Specially after this year's speculation of its existence. (This year, at least, we are getting it).

On Feb.10.2005 at 03:59 PM
Tan’s comment is:

Second Story rocks. I've always admired their stuff. But while this site is ok, it's not indicative of their best work.

This archive is nothing earth-shattering. The work could've been displayed larger, with less descriptive text. I mean, what's the focus here — the design work, or the explanation and story behind it? The information hierarchy seems at first glance to be unbalanced.

Having bitched about the design, I'll just also say that its a very nice addition to AIGA.com.

On Feb.10.2005 at 06:27 PM
art chantry’s comment is:

aiga has an archive? i remember back about 20 years ago when i visited the ny offices for the first time and nathan gluck (who later became a good friend) showed me their "archive." it was basically a small closet with a pile of broken wadded-up crap in it. it was pretty laughable. it basically consisted of all the stuff that nobody else had bothered to walk off with through all the years. even their legendary library had been so pilfered that they didn't even have complete runs of their own publications anymore. in fact the last thing they had nathan do before firing him (after 30-40 years of work) was to have him catalog the library and "closet" (archive). he was the only one there who knew anything about who did what, and what the stuff actually was. in fact, he was the last person working there (according to nathan at that time) who had actually worked as a professional graphic designer. it seems the staff had become entirely filled with professional bureaucrats hired through the want ads.

i quit the aiga back in about 94. i assume they are still around? still setting the "standard"?

- art

On Feb.10.2005 at 08:31 PM
Randy’s comment is:

That's correct Art: the organization is still out there trying to make a difference in this profession. I find it hard to believe that you've forgotten the Orlando Chapter treated you to trips to Florida on two occasions. One of those was only a few short months ago.

I am saddened and disappointed that there is not some level of mutual respect. It is my hope that your appreciation for the efforts of others (whether you agree or support) grows as the AIGA has in the last 15 years. The archive is more than a glorified closet. I'm sorry that you feel compelled to criticise sincere efforts.

- Randy J. Hunt, V.P. AIGA Orlando

On Feb.14.2005 at 01:34 PM
art chantry’s comment is:

randy -

sorry, but you misunderstand. i'm talking about the NATIONAL organization, not the local chapters. i think the local aiga chapters are the best thing going on across the country when it comes to grass roots thinking in design. they are the best i've ever seen (including orlando, which is a wonderful group). besides, most of them were in existance under other other names long before they decided to fold themselves into the national aiga organization. in fact, i know from personal conversations that most of those organizations have regrets about their decision.

my comments are critical of the national chapter headquarters and my opinions have been long ago and repeatedly expressed to what's his face (the leader) and in other public forums such as this. i think the national chapter should disband and fold itslf into a single clearing house office for organizational purposes and give all that money back to the regional chapters. i also think the ny chapter (which is also great) should make more effort to separate itslef from the national bunch. unfortunatley there is much confusion.

i think the national headquarters is little more than a parasite. the local chapters are wonderful.

but then, this is not a thread to dis the national aiga - i was only sharing a story about the organization that i thought threw a little clearer light on the reality of their "archive." unless they've done an amzing job of gathering back 75 years of uncatalogged and lost materials, there essentially isn't one. we always assume that national organizations (especially those based in nyc) are somehow totally together and have attained superpowers or something. it's really not true.

- art

On Feb.14.2005 at 03:16 PM