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MAY 17, 2010    SAT. MAY 15  |  SUN. MAY 16


AIGA Design Educator's Conference, Toledo, OH, May 15-16, 2010

Interior of hotel roomOn Friday, after a two-hour drive from Cleveland and a short time lost in downtown Toledo in the midst of a Mudhens game and visit from American Idol competitor Crystal Bowersox, I found the hotel.

The photo doesn't give a true sense of how big my King Size room was. I'm not exaggerating when I say that it was at least twice the size of many European hotel rooms that I've stayed in.

The wall of windows had a great view of the Maumee River. The bed had eight pillows of various sizes on it. The wireless didn't work on Friday night. There was no mini-fridge with $4 bottles of water. Still, it felt pretty decadent.

Friday night was a lecture at the Toledo Art Museum by Joshua Onysko of Pangea Organics. I was one of the last people to arrive, just in time to hear the Q&A at the end of his talk. His responses to questions about competitors' products seemed bit "holier than thou" to me, but keep in mind that I missed his entire talk. Others told me that the talk was terrific.

Map embedded in floor of museumAfterwards I enjoyed a beer or two and some snacks during the reception, then spend a little time wandering through the museum.

We were in The Glass Pavilion, which holds the museum's great collection of glass art. I like the idea of putting the map on the floor, but fear it may be too subtle. I would have missed it had not a couple of people in front of me stopped to look.


Main Stage Presentation
Rick Valicenti, The Braided Career Path Toward A Moving Design

Sustain the sparkRick, a superstar designer I met years ago at a Design Inquiry conference in Portland, Maine, talked about finding one's passion and pursuing it, as he's done throughout his career.

An example of his intensely personal work that he talked about as a watershed in his career is the Notes to Self series of calligraphic statements.

He also showed more recent work that used the programming language Processing to transform human movement into graphics. Cool as these were as visuals, there was also an underlying logic that connected them with the purpose they were ultimately used for.

Other notes from Rick's presentation:

You get what you do. -Michael Patrick Cronin.

If you do (clever-cool-formulaic-shit) you get (clever-cool-formulaic-shit). - Rick V.

Goal: thoughtful, resourceful, meaningful, soulful, wonderful.

Work for people, not corporations.

(strive for) real human presence (in your work)

3rst studio has posters of great design work on walls: "we're part of a continuum"

RV did work where he was "channeling Paul Rand", i.e., Paul Rand approach filtered through RV. "cover versions" of Paul Rand.

"I still love making" - comment on recent emphasis on design thinking rather than making.

Third Coast Audio Festival

Moving Design - Rick + others trying to reshape public point of view about issues.

Living Principles

A brief presentation described AIGA' Sustainability initiative called Living Principles and mentioned the development of an Action Kit dealing with People, Culture, Environment and Economy, to be posted online as open-source material for all to use. Living Principles draws on existing visions, principle, frameworks and tools:Living Principles chart

Affinity Session 1.1

Robyn Waxman, Understanding The Next Generation of Designers—The F.A.R.M. Story

1980-99 "Millennial" generation:
→ connects most closely with WWII generation
→ values = volunteer, collaborative, choice, participatory, non-critical
→ (we need to) inspire, work hand-in-hand

F.A.R.M = Future Action Reclamation Mob = activism for millennial generation:
→ participatory
→ mindsets needed for Millennials: allow students to pick topics that interests them; rethink the design medium; allow students to lead and collaborate.
→ stereotype is Millennials are lazy and disrespectful. Not necessarily true, they may be very active in ways we don't always recognize, i.e., online vs on the streets.
→"Gift Economy" = nothing bought, nothing sold.
→ use link above to learn more about F.A.R.M.

Affinity Session 2.1

Karina Cutler-Lake, Show Me Where You Find Yourself, and Why It Matters.

→ mapping your environment
→ map = "abstract from the world those factors that are important to you"
→ recommended books: You Are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination, by Katherine Harmon, and Graphic Design Sources by Kenneth Heibert.
→ recommended website: Flowing Data

Main Stage Presentation
Nathan Shedroff, Teaching Sustainability in the Context of Business, Design and People

→ "If you're not part of the problem you can't be part of the solution."

→ "Design Thinking" includes prototyping and iteration... "Fail early and often to succeed later," IDEO motto


  • Mostly services and systems, not so much products (unlike conventional design)
  • PRINCIPLES (of Sustainable Design?)
    1. Systems Thinking
    2. Multi-Stakeholder Engagement
    3. Multi-Disciplinary Teamwork
    4. Service/Value-Oriented
    5. Customer/User-Oriented
    1. Natural Capitalism
    2. The Natural Step
    3. Cradle to Cradle
    4. Living Principles
    5. Holistic Management

(At this point I started to nod off...)

→ Sustainable Design must be a core theme and value in every course

→ "Do & make"

Small Steps Institute: like Weight Watchers, plan + support (like Gang Green)

→ book: Design is the Problem

→ leading change toward sustainability

Nathan.com/thoughts: open-source curriculum, including sustainable design

→ "consumerism," buying to fill a void and/or bring meaning to one's life, must be killed!

Evening activities

Night view of bridge with reflection of tv in windowDinner with Matt and others at restaurant on the Maumee River.

Walking tour of Toledo Urban Forest Project banners downtown.

Party/mixer at Grumpy's Restaurant w/snacks and Heinekens.

Back to hotel for attempt at watching Saturday Night Live.

Unsuccessful. Zzzzzzzzz.

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Adobe session: Flash Catalyst

→ Allows designers to make interactive projects from Photoshop, etc. files w/o learning Flash.

pilot project at U of Missouri School of Journalism

→ Look out! Return Of The Ubiquitous Splash Animated Intro
...lots of bad animation on the way.

Flash Catalyst will spark an outburst of gratuitous animation now that anyone can make animations, transitions, etc.

Main Stage Presentation
Rick Poynor, First Things...When, Exactly?

First Things First Manifesto
Citizen Designer
→ Milton Glaser, Road To Hell
→ George Monbiot, Heat
→ Daniel Eatock, No Manifesto

[ to see notebook, mouse over image at right ]

→ Sao Paulo - legislation against advertising
→ Herman Melville, Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall-Street
The Graphic Design Reader

Robyn Waxman, Designers Accord

Civil Beat, Hawaii

[ to see notebook, mouse over image at right ]

Affinity Session 3.3

Learning to Teach / Teaching to Learn

Jan Conradi, moderator
Roger Baer, Jillian Lindner, David Raymond

[ to see notebook, mouse over image at right ]

Affinity Session 4.1

Patricia Cué, Visual Diversity and Inclusiveness in Graphic Design

Patricia's talk made me ask this question.
Not sure why, but I'm glad it did.

Michael Gibson, Educating Design Process Educators as a Means to Educate Ethically Minded Designers

[ to see notebook, mouse over image at right ]


Panel discussion

Louise Sandhaus, moderator, with Rick Poynor, Rick Valicenti and Nathan Shedroff.

[ to see notebook, mouse over image at right ]

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