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AIGA National Conference: The Future

As we all know, you can’t please all of the people all of the time, and with a conference that caters to 2,500 people all practicing under the broad description of Design, there are bound to be varying complaints.

Myself, I have mentioned that the space seemed too large and spread out; Armin felt it was just right. Two years ago, many were annoyed by the focus of the “Power of Design” conference in Vancouver, now we find this one too broad. Some, like myself, enjoy the tangential discussions, where others want to focus on graphic design. The younger audience wants to see the big names; the older audience wants to see someone new. Some people want to think and theorize, others want a lot of imagery. You can’t win in a situation like this, but I thought I’d just offer some gentle suggestions for a future conference, in case anyone is listening.

Design Star Mixers Many of us go to conferences to see and meet the design stars whose work we’ve slept with under our pillows. To avoid desperate pleas to John Hockenberry to unite us with the ones we love, I think a little full-contact game would help connect people and give us all hands we won’t want to wash for weeks. I suggest Red Rover. On one side, Stefan Sagmeister, Steve Heller, Michael Bierut, Paula Scher, Seymour Chwast, April Grieman, Milton Glaser, Ze Frank, Massimo Vignelli, Bill Drentell, Sean Adams, Ellen Lupton, Armin Vit, etc. On the other, us. Imagine calling out “Red Rover, Red Rover, let Milton come over!!!” and as he comes running towards us you either stand strong and assimilate him into our team, or fake a weak link and let him come barrelling through the chain in the hope that he’ll pick you as his trophy to return to the stars’ team. Beware of Steve Heller—he’s tougher than he looks.

Day Openers Replace early AM Yoga with “The Hair of the Dog”. Get up at 6:30 am and start drinking. This will loosen us all up to ask the questions we really want to ask, and get some seriously lively discussions going in the breakout sessions.

Politics Stream the design discussions into two groups: Conservatives and Liberals. Allow, say 2,450 seats for the Liberals and an optimistic 50-seat room for the Conservatives. Possible Conservative discussions might be Military Insignia, Lobbying with Graphics, Branding for Exclusivity, and Wedding Invitations of the Rich and Famous.

Image vs. Words Which format is really superior? This battle is carried out already in a subtle way, as conferencees trickle in to the heavy thinking sessions and flock to the Poster Design sessions. But let’s not be so polite: have it out in the same arena! In ring number one, Jessica Helfand and Meredith Davis discuss the relevance of the word “education” in Design Education; in ring number two, David Carson flashes an image of every design he’s ever made, without comment (he doesn’t even need to show up). This should answer the question all burning in our minds: “How important are graphics, really?”

Students Special sessions for students could include funny stories of designers’ first and worst days in business. The lessons learned, the clients fired, the desperate sorrows of yesterday, and the affirmative belief that “tomorrow is another day.”

Professionals Special sessions for professionals could include discussions of the Hubble Telescope, the Chemical Structure of Spider Webs, Lost Recipes from the 1950s, Cemeteries of Europe, and a workshop for Things to Make from Old Office Equipment (bring your 5.5-inch floppies).

Parties Forget the theme for the conference, we need themed parties! Howabout “The Grid Party” with line-dancing, square-dancing and, for the advanced, break-dancing. Music by The Rigids. All drinks served neat.

Just a suggestion …

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ARCHIVE ID 2422 FILED UNDER Critique
PUBLISHED ON Sep.21.2005 BY marian bantjes
WITH COMMENTS
Comments
agrayspace’s comment is:

Hilarious! Thanks for brightening my morning with an image of ol' Milty running headstrong into our united fence.

And get ready for the poop to hit the prop for the liberal remark. Though I tend to agree. People are gonna get pissy.

I got yo back tho.

On Sep.21.2005 at 09:40 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

Funny!

On Sep.21.2005 at 10:55 AM
Josh’s comment is:

I wish, in commenting on the liberal/conservative node that there would be sessions on how to design for political campaigns. Distinguishing to the delegates how the use of Univers scores with younger voters while Times New Roman makes people fall asleep at the wheel after viewing it. Also why breaking the red, white and blue tradition of these signs makes you sexy.

Believing that we should also model future conferences mornings after college homecoming rituals, we should all gather at a local watering hole to watch episodes of the Thundercats and the Smurfs, while choking down more captain and cokes and cosmos in honor of the astutely titled "cartoons and cocktails".

Marian is my design sarcasm hero.

On Sep.21.2005 at 11:57 AM
marian bantjes’s comment is:

The strangest people will write to me personally with responses to my post. This just in from someone who I can only assume wishes to remain anonymous, but is a brilliant suggestion from one of the most brilliant minds in this broad field of ours:

What we also need are different colored smocks and berets to tell the players apart. In fact, next conference we all wear smocks and berets according to our specialties.

Thank you sh: fabulous! A truly graphic solution to an identification problem. At a glance we'd be able to tell the branding people from the wacky conceptualists, the AR specialists from the agencies and the in-house designers, the students from the educators. I have arbitrarily assigned pink to the design writers, stefan sagmeister will have to choose his own colour, and I will wear a patchwork quilt—tres chic.

On Sep.21.2005 at 12:26 PM
debbie millman’s comment is:

I want the black berets! I want the black berets!

On Sep.21.2005 at 01:41 PM
Bryony’s comment is:

Debbie will just have to do the black everything and belong to the "I am New York" crowd

On Sep.21.2005 at 02:50 PM
Jeff Gill’s comment is:

If you can find a smock & beret for an American John Kerry voting Republican evangelical Christian who thinks intelligent design is a crock & lives Great Britain, I may have to go next time.

-

Now a quick review of last Friday's Alternative Party Speakers Up in North & Mid Wales & Cheshire: The wine from Tesco was very nice, and since only Christine & I were there the open bar lasted all evening. The beer from the local brewery was saved for the get together on Saturday with non-designer friends. The presentations from the BBC were somewhat below average, with John Sullivan's being especially poor. However, Channel Four was superb, and Meet the Magoons was clearly the highlight of the evening (before the bedroom activity began).

On Sep.21.2005 at 04:37 PM
Shahla’s comment is:

Tesco wine : )

On Sep.21.2005 at 06:20 PM
Kyle Hildebant’s comment is:

Alow my s pink one. After all, it IS the new black.

Would anyone be willing to support me in my claim that I single handedly brought back pink? :P

On Sep.21.2005 at 11:07 PM
Kyle Hildebant’s comment is:

Disregard the nonsensical language in the previous post.

I just got back from the "early morning hair of the dog yoga class".

On Sep.21.2005 at 11:14 PM