Head, Heart, Hand
We’re experiencing a shift at Eastwick. From junior level staff to senior management, the team recognizes the value of design thinking as well as the results visual communications can have in the context of a larger strategic communications plan. Our design team is often called upon to provide support, insight, and helps solve problems and provide value beyond the expected design tasks. The result? A shift in culture and business – a model that encourages creativity and innovation, and that recognizes and calls on talent who bring a different set of skills to the table.
As in any industry, conferences and professional gatherings are an important way to stay at the edge of innovation. My notes from the latest AIGA conference share what I learned at this exciting gathering.
On October 10, 1,800 designers gathered for 3 days in Minneapolis at the biennial design conference hosted by AIGA, the professional association for design. This year’s theme: “Head, Heart, Hand” – exploring design thinking and strategy, social impact, and craft.
Immersed in America’s fittest city, known for it’s friendly citizens, love of bikes and cutting-edge design, and as AIGA began to celebrate it’s centennial, the inspiration was palpable. The conference consensus: designers have become increasingly involved in strategy and social impact in the past few years, though the love of craft and superb execution remain necessary foundations of successful design. A broad range of speakers – from established greats like George Lois, the legendary advertising communicator who created dozens of iconic Esquire covers and the “I Want My MTV” campaign, to newer mavericks like Aaron Draplin, founder of Draplin Design Co., who gave a sucker-punch of a talk on the highs and lows of working independently – all explored the “Head, Heart, Hand” theme. Notable quotables:
- “When you make something no one hates, no one loves it” – Eric Baker quoting Tibor Kalman
- “Reality – expectations = happiness” – Nicole Jacek
- “I am a graphic designer because I create big ideas, not designs” – George Lois
But as Michael Bierut pointed out, the conference is more about what happens after the gathering, between the speakers and amongst the people.
Two years ago we gathered at “Pivot.” Since then, designers have done just that – pivoted into roles that are increasingly more strategic, engaged at all levels of business. Designers pushed for a move from the creative edge to the center. And business leaders listened – even business as time-honored as IBM, which has recently devoted an entire business unit, called IBM Design, to solve the problem of improving their customer experience.
A few things about Minnesota that you may not have known (courtesy of Andrew Blauvelt, Chief of Communications and Audience Engagement and Curator of Architecture and Design at the Walker Art Center):
- The Honeycrisp apple, an agricultural design solution 30 years in the making, was developed at the University of Minnesota for exceptionally crisp and juicy texture, sub-acid and mildly aromatic flavor, and excellent storage life.
- Frank Lloyd Wright designed his one and only gas station that, if you’re in the market, is currently for sale, and located in the small town of Cloquet, Minnesota.
- Minneapolis is home to the world’s most extensive skyway – it’s 70 city blocks. Note: it’s in serious need of a wayfinding system solution… #DesignProblem. Anyone up to the challenge?