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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: One of AIGA's most prominent competitions is called Design 365, an annual event that seeks to honor the best design entries from the past year. The debut exhibition is held in the gallery on the first floor of AIGA's National Design Center. Luckily, I was able to arrange a sneak preview with Gabriela Mirensky, the Director of Competitions and Exhibitions for AIGA. We took a look around at some of the entries, which helped me learn more about how AIGA strives to stimulate excellence throughout the design field.
So it looks like we have some different categories. For example, this is the promoting category down this aisle. Gabriela Mirensky: Right. We actually have six categories. The categories depend on the intention of the piece, what they need it to do in the marketplace. You get things that go from posters - lots of posters are in the promotional category - to Web sites. So we cover the whole spectrum of applications of design. It's a very tough category to judge, just because of the sheer amount of entries, but it's really fun stuff.
Lynda: So you have the physical show here at AIGA headquarters in New York. Gabriela: Yes. Lynda: And then does anything else happen with this work? Gabriela: It travels for a whole year around chapters, Lynda: Oh, fantastic! Gabriela: AIGA chapters and universities. It's on demand, so we never know in advance what the touring schedule will be. But generally, it's booked a couple of months in advance. So we keep a list online, right now, of what the next venues are. Lynda: That's very exciting. Do you have to be a member of AIGA to look at this work? Gabriela: Not at all. Lynda: So it's online.
Gabriela: This is open to the public, and it's available online, open to all on the Web at designarchives.aiga.org. Lynda: So I know that ties into the philosophy of evangelizing design to the world. Can you talk a little bit about that? Gabriela: Well, we want to make sure people understand, not just designers, but everybody, understands that we live with design and we interact with design 24x7. It's through bringing pieces that are extremely well designed - and by well designed, we mean not just pretty.
It's not just the aesthetics, but it's really the way they work and how well they met the design objectives and the communication objectives - it's really through great examples that we can explain to the public and kind of educate the public about what design can do, in addition to make things pretty.
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