5 Big Ideas From the 2021 AIGA Design Conference

Through 18 months of an ongoing pandemic, our social and professional interactions have significantly changed. This period has also marked cultural shifts in design thinking.
Curiousbrand Team
April 19, 2023

The period of an ongoing pandemic has been a period of isolation for many of us, but it's been also a time for reevaluating the priorities and recognizing the need to interrogate the systemic structures designers contribute to in order to build a better future through their work.

This year’s virtual AIGA Design Conference reflected these cultural shifts in design thinking, focusing on the new ways of being together, reconnecting to our peers and our personal design lineages, coping with the technologies like AI, and dismantling hierarchies in our own practices and at the institutional level.

Here are 5 takeaways from “A Brief History of Now”:

1. The future isn’t the only thing to care for

AIGA Design Conference chair Rick Griffiths set the tone for the week in his opening remarks: “The future isn’t the only thing to care for. We can hold space for more history, more messages from the past, and more wisdom from more and different people.”

2. Questioning the design canon is hard but necessary work

In his presentation, Javier Syquia challenged the designed cannon and stated that he rejects the term 'vernacular' design by saying that all forms of visual design are graphic design.

3. Everything breaks. Design for healing now

Scott Doorley said, “Everything breaks, and I think it’s great to think about design’s purpose as being one of healing; building on the traditions of participatory design, co-designing, liberatory design, circular design and universal design.”

4. Expand the limits of graphic design thinking

In her presentation, book designer Anja Lutz said, “Expanding, connecting and sharing knowledge with other disciplines—these dialogues and overlaps are vital to helping us to become aware of the larger context of our societies and the world around us.”

5. It’s ok to say no

Cameron Tonkinwise outlined that “If we have values about the types of visions of the future that we want, then we’re going to have to also start to work collectively to not merely say ‘yes, and’ but ‘no, let’s reframe the problem and work in a different way.’”

Read the full blog post @EyeonDesign