Highlights from the 2017 AIGA National Conference

This past week I was thrilled to attend my first AIGA National Conference in Minneapolis, MN. After serving on the local AIGA DC board for four years, it was great see design friends from the District as well as meet the creative change-makers who are making things happen across the country. The theme of this year’s conference was “Connect” but it wasn’t all networking—the conference provided a strong platform for thoughtful discussions and design inspiration. Read on for my top AIGA 2017 highlights and brave design takeaways:

Exploring the typography all around us

Cafe de Flore signage

Louise Fili gave a thought-provoking talk about her travels abroad in Italy and France in the pursuit to document historical signage before it’s removed to make way for modern corporate signs. The craftsmanship that went into many of these signs was truly impressive, as well as Fili’s dedication to capturing these historic signs. She has published several books on her endeavors, and one family even rehung a piece just for her to photograph and include in her compilation of work.

stacked Mendl's Boxes

In another talk, Annie Atkins shared her expertise on lettering and design in movie production. The way she put it, her job is to make an “authentic piece that is barely noticed.” Atkins spoke of making 30 copies of a prop telegram for The Gand Budapest Hotel, so it could be torn for multiple takes while retaining extra for the non-linear filmmaking process. She joked about the keen observations of audiences via theirs posts on IMDB, including calling out a typo on one of the many pink boxes used in the film. Thank goodness for post-production!

Quatrefoil Pattern

Roman Mars served as the conference emcee and did a great short on the history of the quatrefoil, a shape that has become synonymous with luxury. It can be seen everywhere—in the architecture of churches to patterns used in interior design. Its popularity and status date back to the ancient days, where artisans would put intense time and effort into creating this precise shape with various building materials. Check out the full podcast on 99% invisible entitled “the fancy shape”.

Command X, where brave designers battle it out

Command X header design

This crowd-favorite design competition showcased seven young designers battling it out over three rounds, later presenting their concepts in front of the entire crowd and a judging panel. After each round, two designers were eliminated in real-time via audience selection over the AIGA app.

The contestants were setup in main conference area, where attendees could view their progress and “art direct” over their shoulders. The concepts were thoughtful and well executed, especially considering the short amount of time each designer had to work with.

photo of computer screens showing designs

Future Design and Interactivity

AIGA conference App screens

As mentioned earlier, the event had its own mobile app— a first for me at a conference. Beautifuly designed with an intuitive user experience,  the app enabled updates and interactions in real time, allowed attendees to interact with one another and read speaker/session materials without have to flip through pages and pages of handouts. I certainly hope to see other big conferences take this approach and encourage participation.

Photo of Meaghan Dee presenting

In the Designer of 2025 seminar I was happy to meet professor Meaghan Dee, from my alma matter Virginia Tech, discuss her work on FutureHAUS, a prototype for homes of the future. Their prototype is the only US-based team to be showcased at the World Green Economy Summit in Dubai in 2018. Meaghan helped with the branding and logo design of the project, highlighting the importance of good design across disciplines.

Lastly, Tea Uglow from Google Creative Labs shared an inventive new way to share stories via Editions at Play. The platform shows how storytelling can be more interactive, challenging the ways we think books can be read, such as stories with text that changes over time, or multilinear storytelling. Check out the video below.OPEN CONFIGURATION OPTIONS

Editions At Play Preview

We can’t wait to integrate some of these design innovations into our own work here at CHIEF, and look forward to seeing how technology influences art, design and production in the future. Got any predictions? Tell us about them on Twitter.

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