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AIGA conference prep

In preparation for the AIGA design conference[1], I’m looking over the session descriptions and speaker list. The theme for this year is “Design”, which seems a little broad but somehow appropriate given how much design has been taken up by the press (especially the business and tech press) recently as something Important and the design profession may be in need of a little wagon circling to figure out how to effectively explain design to someone who is all fired up about incorporating it into their business process because they read a blurb in Fast Company about Jonathan Ive and the iPod.

My knowledge of and involvement with the AIGA up to this point has been fairly minimal, which either makes me the ideal person (fresh eyes!) or a horrible choice (head up ass!) to cover their design conference. I’m particularly interested in learning how they’ve incorporated the fast-changing disciplines of Web and digital design into the mix. When I was working in Minneapolis as a Web designer in the late 90s, my company got me an AIGA membership, but I never used it because although they were trying to be more relevant to those of us working on the Web, my perception is that the AIGA was still largely a graphic design organization and I was finding more of what I was looking for on Web design sites like A List Apart. Now that the Web design profession has matured (and Web design practitioners along with it), it seems to fit better with where the AIGA is going (and vice versa). After all, design is design, no matter what word you stick in front of it.

So, back to the speakers list, I’m looking forward to hearing from Michael Bierut, Lella and Massimo Vignelli, Steven Heller, Matthew Carter, John Maeda, Peter Merholz and Jesse James Garrett from Adaptive Path, Ze Frank, Stefan Sagmeister, Steff Geissbuhler, Caterina Fake, and Milton Glaser (but no Malcolm Gladwell or Errol Morris, both of whom I swear were on earlier speaker lists), some of whom you may recognize from past mentions on They’ve also added some sessions in response to Hurricane Katrina on design, safety, risk, and disaster management, which is an excellent use of the opportunity of having a bunch of designers in the same place.

If you want to follow along with the complete conference coverage here on, here’s the AIGA 2005 page. As I mentioned previously, I’ll be opening up comments on most posts (incl. this one), but will be active in gardening off-topic and trolling comments.

[1] I just realized all these URLs are going to break when the next conference rolls around in two years or so, which is disappointing. Would be nice to have something like that would permanently point to this year’s festivities. Bloggers like permanent links (well, this one does anyway).

Reader comments

JeremySep 13, 2005 at 1:21PM

I'm looking forward to your thougts and observations on this conference. I was also a member of AIGA in MN but as a student in 1992. MN has an active chapter, at least they did back then.

Stefan HaydenSep 13, 2005 at 2:34PM

Just coming out of college I still get the feeling that AIGA is still mostly graphic design and less web design. Being a big event planner I'm hoping to get more involved with AIGA in Boston and hopefully help them bring a little bit more web design in to the fold.

Hope to meet everyone at the conference. I'll be back stage helping all the big wigs run the conference!

Tricia HarveySep 13, 2005 at 4:48PM

That's odd about Malcolm Gladwell and Errol Morris both of whom were on the speaker's list. I'll be there and I'm looking forward to it. Being the only graphic designer at my company I look at the conference as a chance to catch-up with my peers and immerse myself in design. If Morris is off the list I'll be disappointed since I was looking forward to seeing him speak.

DarrelSep 13, 2005 at 5:34PM

"My knowledge of and involvement with the AIGA up to this point has been fairly minimal"

Ah! That explains why you're doing it. ;o)

I think that probably makes you a better candidate, though your other comment..."my perception is that the AIGA was still largely a graphic design organization"...still rings pretty true IMHO.

HoustonSep 13, 2005 at 6:04PM

Would love pictures - even links to your Flickr.

jkottkeSep 13, 2005 at 6:08PM

Would love pictures - even links to your Flickr.

I'm taking my camera and will be shooting a bit (dunno how much). In addition, I'll be pointing to photos that other people will be shooting -- on Flickr and elsewhere -- as I find them. Some are already beginning to find their way here.

JustineSep 13, 2005 at 7:48PM

Errol Morris is still mentioned as a speaker on the main page. Another interesting speaker should be Ben Karlin from the Daily Show.

Stefan HaydenSep 13, 2005 at 10:19PM

Malcolm Gladwell or Errol Morris, both of whom I swear were on earlier speaker lists

I forget exactly who but I know some speakers had problems due to Katrina. Some great replacement speakers have been rounded up to talk about design for disaster and how you can minimize a disaster's effect on your business.

FlaviaSep 14, 2005 at 8:23PM

looking forward! :)

Frank MaloneSep 15, 2005 at 3:46PM

I can't wait for your report. I hope the pics come out well.

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.