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As a long-time member of AIGA and newly elected member of its national board of directors, lynda.com founder Lynda Weinman was invited to attend the organization's annual design awards gala in New York City last fall. A few days before the event, she spent some time getting to know some of the AIGA’s key members and touring the organization's offices and archives.
Lynda's journey introduces us to the professional association for design, through the eyes of some of the most talented and influential designers of our time. Lynda visits AIGA's National Design Center on Fifth Avenue, home to the breathtaking design archives (dating back to the 1920's) as well as this year's premiere of 365: AIGA's Annual Design Exhibition. She also touches down at New York's School of Visual Arts and at Sterling Brands, the largest brand consultancy in the country, located in the Empire State building. Those interviewed include executive director Ric Grefé, national AIGA president Debbie Millman, former president Sean Adams, and editor Steven Heller from Voice: AIGA’s Journal of Design.
Lynda Weinman: Okay so this looks like the Packaging category? Gabriela Mireasky: Yes, and the Packaging category includes anything that has to do with designing containers. It can be designing containers for gourmet products, for mass marketing or really limited addition. Lynda: Are people allowed to touch things? Gabriela: Absolutely. Lynda: Cool! Gabriela: That's actually a trademark of our show. Sometimes you have to train people to do this, because we are so used to not touching when we go to a museum. Lynda: Right. Gabriela: But this is not a museum. This is very hands-on.
Lynda: So these are limited edition hair trimmings, very nice! Gabriela: Yes, that's from Bumble and Bumble who does a holiday-line every year, so that's part of that. Lynda: That's awesome. Gabriela: That's another. Hand-made chocolates. So you see how the packaging relates. Lynda: It looks hand-made. Gabriela: Right. So it's letterpressed and done with a lot of -- Lynda: Looks like it's stitched. Gabriela: It really reflects the qualities of the product it contains, and that's one of the criterion for being in the show.
Lynda: Here we are at another category, Entertaining. What is this about? Gabriela: Entertaining is about work done to entertain the audience. It's not for the entertainment industry. Actually when we first started having this category a couple of years ago all of a sudden we received all this work that was from the entertainment industry, logos for HBO. Lynda: Right. Gabriela: That's not entertaining. It might be for them. But it's not what this is about. This is a category where really the only purpose is to make you have a good time.
So we have from animations. We have some that was a Christmas gift, for instance. So again, the definition of entertainment is not extremely strict. Lynda: True! Gabriela: But it's just things done for fun. This is a great piece done by Stefan Sagmeister. These are all little coins that were sorted by color. Lynda: Wow! Gabriela: First by volunteers and then Stefan had designed this, and they had this whole bunch of volunteers putting them together according to the grid on the floor.
Lynda: And you were telling me that you give tours of the space and tell us a little bit about that. Gabriela: Yes, we actually have a lot of student groups, both member student groups and just groups of students who come to New York to visit, and they are either design students or interested in design. So they call us. We have our Membership Director who gives them a tour of the whole building, explaining all the pieces that we have in the building, designed by a lot of people.
And then we do a tour of the gallery, which is pretty much like this. But we explain to the students what design is, what AIGA does, what is the importance of belonging to a professional association. All of the activities that we do throughout the year and a little bit of history, stuff like that.
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