Jessica Helfand and William Drenttel
Read Jessica Helfand and William Drenttel's presentation, "Culture is not always popular." Bill and Jessica are partners in Winterhouse design studio. Their work focuses on publishing and editorial development; new media; cultural institutions; and education and literacy projects. Recent clients include the New England Journal of Medicine, Norman Rockwell Museum, Yale Law School, New York University School of Journalism, University of Chicago Press and the National Design Awards.
Friday Focused Sessions
Focused sessions 1
Choose 1 session from the 10 described below. Sessions are available on a first-come,
first-serve basis and space is limited. Please have a second and third choice
ready in case your preferred session is full. A second set of focused sessions
follows this one with a 30-minute break between.
Bias in web design: Who, what, why, when and where
Geert Hofstede’s classic cultural anthropological study, Cultures and
Organizations, identifies five fundamental dimensions of world cultures: power
distance; individualism vs. collectivism; femininity vs. masculinity; uncertainty
avoidance; and short vs. long-term orientation. Interactive design pioneer Aaron
Marcus will define and explain these dimensions and discusses their impact on
the design of user-interfaces and information-visualization in web-based communications.
His review of various websites will examine cultural bias as well as other dimensions
such as persuasion, intelligence and cognition that need to be considered to
achieve clear communication in user-interface design.
Designing culture by designing books, or, since we’re neighbors,
let’s be friends
Michael Carabetta, panel moderator
Are there differences (or not) between neighboring countries’ approaches
to the design of our most sacred cultural artifact, the book? As fellow North
Americans, divided by a geopolitical border, do we have commonalities in our
aesthetics? Or do our design sensibilities transform at the U.S./Canadian border?
Are there perceptible traits that distinguish Canadian from American (book)
design? Chronicle Books’ creative director Michael Carabetta will lead
a panel that includes books designers Barbara Hodgson, Peter Cocking and Elsa
Kendall in a discussion that addresses the demands of respective marketplaces,
popular culture and aesthetics on United States and Canadian book design.
One man’s ceiling is another woman’s floor
You cannot not communicate, especially across cultures. References to professional
football fall on deaf ears outside of the U.S. or—worse still—are
considered inconsiderate; in some countries, men wear skirts, restrooms are
honestly called toilets and not everybody is known by their first name nor speaks
English. A global economy needs local communication, and local communication
needs design. Renowned information designer Erik Spiekermann will show you the
Good, the Bad and the Ugly and may give some tips and hints on how to avoid
the pitfalls of cross-cultural communication.
A broader view of design
The graphic design community still holds a limited view of its own work and
the impact it has beyond its intended audiences. While we appreciate the fact
that we have moved beyond the design of the printed page to physical and virtual
spaces, there is little understanding or appreciation for the influence design
may have in organizational, social and cultural arenas. Head of Carnegie Mellon’s
School of Design Dan Boyarski will show two very different examples that illustrate
how the practice of design is evolving and effecting change in unexpected ways.
Evolution of graphic design education
Design educator Lorraine Wild will look at the evolution of graphic design
education, particularly here in the U.S. A designer’s fate–what they could be,
should be or would be–depends upon when they were educated. This influence
is evident by following the impact of modernist theory in the 1960s and 1970s.
Types of projects, the influence of theory and the complete re-invention of the
technologies of graphic reproduction will also be traced as will different waves
of influence on the reality of graphic design practice.
The power of design: Old chestnut or current crisis?
When designers get together, after the first wave of chat about “who-fired-whom,”
and “what-the-recession-has-done-to-my-customer-base,” they often
end up discussing some variation on the theme of “the power of design.”
This conversation may start with the innocent comment, “Why is it that
clients and the great American public don’t appreciate design?”
But then the talk gets heated, and the conversation goes one of two ways. Either
one designer starts the oft-heard harangue that “Clients don’t understand
what design can do nor how marvelous we are because we are doing it?”
or another sets off on the old trail of “Why doesn’t the American
public understand what design can do and how it is being manipulated by the
images of consumerist propaganda?” This last being a favorite in the education
set. In this talk, author and designer Natalia Ilyin, who has talked both sides
of the harangue in her day, takes on the conference’s theme of “the
power of design.” She’ll explore what we think it is, why we are
so damn preoccupied with it and what it really might be, after all.
Design for Democracy: Tales from the front
Marcia Lausen, panel moderator
As the 2004 presidential election approaches, national attention will no doubt
focus once again on the frailties of the voting process. AIGA has been at the
forefront of efforts to promote the role design can play in election reform.
This panel, moderated by Design for Democracy leader Marcia Lausen, and including
the chief state election official of Oregon John Lindback, will survey achievements
to date and lessons learned, report on ongoing efforts and discuss the road
ahead. Issues to be discussed: What are the barriers to election design reform?
How can they be overcome? And how can the progressive and energetic mandate
of effective design succeed in the often-stodgy world of election bureaucracy?
Rob L. Peters
We live in a consumptive world of information overload, over-branding and overly
powerful hegemonies. For most human beings, the world is a place of imbalance,
inequity, injustice and suffering. Designers have an important role to play
in forming the future. Design is powerful; it shapes culture and it influences
societal values. Design can inform, empower and clarify–or it can obscure,
encumber and manipulate. Icograda president Rob Peters will share viewpoints
from the worldwide design community and will offer information, observations
and predictions in a cross-cultural context. The aim is to encourage questioning,
stimulate visionary design thinking and promote effective stewardship.
Typography and the language of culture
Designers are eminently qualified to position themselves as cultural observers
because typography can serve as a barometer of various waves of thinking.
Perhaps it is an opportune time to look at the possibility of a visual ligature or
a conjoined system of letterforms and images, where the gestalt of a series
of letters overrides each letterform’s individual characteristics. Prominent
communication- graphics designer Lucille Tenazas argues that it is through a
designer’s trained eye that we can establish visual relationships where none
existed before, and we can trust that our need for personal expression does not
have to be sacrificed in our desire for a common cultural understanding.
Focus sessions 2
Choose one session from the nine described below. Sessions are available on
a first-come, first-serve basis and space is limited. Please have a second and
third choice ready in case your preferred session is full.
Terry Swack, panel moderator
Held in June 2003, the “Designing for User Experiences” conference
was the first joint venture between ACM/SIGCHI, SIGGRAPH and AIGA Experience
Design, establishing an exciting multidisciplinary forum for experience design
practitioners, educators and students. Join us as we go in-depth on three of
the accepted case studies that are now part of the growing body of knowledge
in the AIGA Experience Design Case Study Archive.
Good design = Effective practice
What is good design today in the 21st century, as we engage in professional
practice across widening cultural, geographical, and economic boundaries? Jason
Pearson, director of strategy for GreenBlue, the design think tank founded by
William McDonough and Michael Braungart, presents an approach to good design
that focuses on the systemic impacts of innovative design practice, not just on
the way the world looks, but on the way it actually works socially, environmentally,
economically and technically. Examples from projects underway at GreenBlue
and elsewhere evaluate the intentional, positive consequences of designer and
interventions for the broader systems with which they have engaged.
Designer as entrepreneur
Steven Heller, panel moderator
The designer as entrepreneur is not a new phenomenon—designers have always
had more to offer than merely serving a client’s needs. But in recent
years designers have been more actively developing small businesses and cottage
industries to fill the needs of certain audiences—from books to furniture
to clothes to all manner of small branded products. This panel, moderated by
design author and historian Steven Heller, will survey some of what’s
being done, and how to bring good ideas to market.
Tax design in Australia
A bold initiative for design in the public sector is underway in Australia.
Supported by the highest levels of government, this effort seeks to apply methods
from traditional design disciplines to the problem of creating sustained excellence
in the Australian taxation system. The effort goes far beyond tax forms. Launched
after the Review of Business Taxation in 1999, it has had the goal of creating
an integrated design capability for tax policy, legislation and administrative
processes. John Body leads Integrated Administrative Design at the Australian
Taxation Office. Tony Golsby-Smith has been a key consultant to this effort
since its inception. Dick Buchanan, Jim Faris and Darrel Rhea have advised on
the project and were keynote speakers at past ATO conferences.A
Protecting creative rights in a global marketplace
The global economy expands the dimensions of a problem that designers have always
faced: protecting their creative property rights. The issue is a critical one
and seems to be increasingly challenging as technology facilitates the ease
with which your work and others’ can be exploited without permission.
AIGA has taken a strong position in protecting designers’ rights and,
as an essential corollary, assuring that designers respect the rights of other
creators. AIGA’s special counsel, Frank Martinez, and the president of
the Canadian Alliance Against Software Theft, Jaqueline Famulak, will address
what designers should do, as both creators and clients for creative property,
to protect rights into the future. Questions and examples from the audience
False notions about the center of the universe
Leslie Becker, panel moderator
On a trip to China earlier this year, California College of Arts and Crafts
graphic design chair Leslie Becker inquired about the population of Xian, the
now famous city in central China that is home to the Terracotta Army. She was
told that it was a “small city” of about five to six million people.
Being from a small city (New York) herself, she was embarrassed by her lack
of knowledge of the enormity and complexity of China. In Beijing, she had the
good fortune to meet Chinese graphic designer, educator and magazine editor
Xiao Yong. Yong will join Greg Blue for a panel discussion that will deepen
our understanding of design and design education beyond our sheltered, western
Designing a sustainable future
This session, presented by sustainability expert Ed Quevedo, will review the
role of the designer in achieving a sustainable society, focusing on the contributions
that the design community can bring to the pursuit of sustainability, the key
challenges we face in our pursuit of being a more sustainable society, and the
skills, business models and organizational innovations we will need to pursue
to create organizations, markets and nations more aligned with sustainability.
How to create a “solutionist-oriented” studio
Janine James and Michael Braungart will discuss ways to transition your practice
to what they refer to as a “solutionist-oriented” firm where work
is not only socially and environmentally responsible, but also profitable and
produces long-term value for clients. Designer and scientist respectively, Janine
and Michael will talk about how their interdisciplinary collaboration has helped
transform both of their practices and has led to more meaningful and appropriate
Designing the sustainable self
In “Designing the Sustainable Self,” design educator Stuart McKee
will examine how graphic designers have historically validated class-based identities
in the products they design, reinforcing the notions of upper class vs. lower
class or blue collar vs. white collar. He will also discuss how the imperative
for sustainable design is creating a new, ostensibly responsible class of graphic
standards that challenges the existing class-based identities. By asking the
question “What kinds of public identities does sustainable design create?”
Stuart will also investigate how the new visual language of sustainable design
undermines the authority of class-based design, and whether it has succeeded,
thus far, in overturning the cultural values that people associate with exclusivity
Systems thinking for designers
Is the trend toward specialization in virtually every discourse a positive or
negative development and how is it affecting the field of design? This focused
session examines how discoveries in the study of living systems may hold great
relevance for designers from a variety of disciplines. MetaDesign founder and
conference program director Terry Irwin will discuss how her interest in living
systems theory is influencing her own design process and teaching, and how her
interest in this new field prompted her return to school. She is currently enrolled
in the masters program for Holistic Science at Schumacher College in Devon,
England, an international center for ecological studies.
Integrating futures research and design
Futures research is a powerful tool for understanding, planning and designing
for our rapidly changing world. By exploring alternative futures in an organized
way, organizations can identify new opportunities and anticipate new challenges,
better allocate their resources and make better decisions. Yet few designers
understand the tools of the forecaster’s trade. In this session, design
strategist and author Andrew Zolli will discuss various approaches to scenario
planning that can be applied to strategic planning, branding and design issues.
Leading brand strategist Marc Gobé claims: “Brands don’t
belong to corporations but to people.” In an economy where brands are
under attack and consumer and employee loyalty is at its lowest, Marc Gobé,
author of business bestsellers Emotional Branding and Citizen Brand, believes
that the only road to success is to connect emotionally with people. Marketing
in the 21st century will not only be about market share but also about mind
and heart share. In his talk, Marc will address the importance of the emotional
connection a brand can establish with consumers; analyze changes in consumer
behavior, the impact of the Millennium generation and the powerful influence
of the female consumer; help evaluate the emotional identity and responsibility
of brands; and shed new light on the concept of corporate responsibility.