AIGA Make | Think: Jill Greenberg

Jill Greenberg portraiture... did a photoshoot and decided not to do business as usual. Got a call to shoot John McCain by the Atlantic. Was dressed up to distract John McCain. The assignment was to make a heroic portrait. Did the shoot for expenses only and she owned her pictures. She made a photo of McCain saying "I am a bloodthirsty warmonger." She called photo district news to see the photographs.

She has a series of unflattering images with John Cain. I cannot believe this is how they ended the conference with this, which is so mean spirited. Even if I did not like McCain.

Post conference contemplation: I still can't believe how juvenile the presentation was. Perhaps three years ago, it would have been more resonate, but today. It took me 15 minutes to even understand what the controversy was about.


AIGA Make | Think: David Butler

David Butler, VP of Global Design at Coca Cola. Oversees 450 different brands. On average 25% of people on earth drinks one of his brands everyday. Overseen redesign of cans, etc.

Business conference are not intimidating, Design conferences are intimidating. Don't like the preciousness of design. In 1999, I opted out of "Design." Structure > Behavior > Results is what changed his mind. This is the Sapient influence. Holistic way of systems thinking changed the way he thought. Coke called in 2004. There was so much opportunity. 13 billion dollar brands: 450 total brands, 206 countries, 700K employees, 50 million retailers, 160 million customers, 68 billion dollars. How can we leverage design to double value by 2020?

He is providing a global perspective on today and tomorrow (10 years from today). World will be more complex tomorrow. Think/Do approach is how we think at Coke.

Elite to Open Source, Art and Design to Design and innovation, designing thinks to designing systems, create ideas to create value, national blogs,to national policy, lineal problems to wicked problems, the world of design to the design of the world.

It's not about me or Coca Cola, but about WE. 

Post conference contemplation: There was a major controversy about his talk because of the fact that he works for Coca Cola. There is some incongruence between the sustainable and holistic vision he presented and the company he works for. I am more ambivalent. Meaning, Coca Cola does tend to be responsive to its market and if we pressure them, they respond. I thought it was interesting that he did not say anything about Sapient, because I am sure the holistic vision of design that he has comes from that experience. Highlight of his talk was the shout out he gave to me for missing meeting me to talk about the U.S. National Design Policy Initiative.

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AIGA Make | Think: Command X Round 03 near final

Ryan, Allison, and Amina are the final three contestants. They are competing for $1000 cash, Adobe CS4. Punc't posters, iphone, type, and glory. Challenge was to make a statement about Civil Rights that would inspire other people and medium was open. Who will win?

Contestant 01 Ryan: Felt awkward as young white male. His solution was to ask more question and use viral nature of video to ask more questions. "When will we get there?" When will you look me in the eyes?" Beautiful black and white video of people asking when will people learn to see them as human. The questions is how do you incorporate history. He answers that you can tell story online as well. Inspiration was booklet from NAACP was "What are you looking for?" Black and white was mostly to cover the lighting.

Contestant 02 Allison: This was by far the most emotionally charged challenge. Civic Rights is not just a moment in mid-century African American history. Read a poem, asked God how to find enough blankets for the Selma March that was rolled up in a pocket: "the patchwork mountain of rolled-up trust." Created a message that ask you to "Take this risk." Take away says, "You can trust me." Asking you to think about what trust means and how to share it. Website of collection of things that you can trust.

Contestant 03 Amina: Was inspired and moved. civilrightsandme.org...people in here generation. This is what civil rights mean to them. Tags of issues that people care about. View images that people. To treat all human beings with respect, decency and equality. And get responses on a website.

It pisses me off that the judges didn't really address the concept that actually addressed the brief. WTF!

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AIGA Make | Think: Chuck Harrison and Ethan Bodnar

Chuck Harrison, illustrious industrial designer, recounts his life. He glosses over the difficulty of finding a job where the job was satisfactorily filled whenever he came to apply. He has traveled around the world. Last couple of years have been riding the crust of the wave, got awards from IDSA, and Cooper Hewitt. Where is life right now...education.

Challenge in education is two groups. Those who walk the walk: make good design to perform with skill and knowledge. And those who can talk the talk: those who can recognize and discuss good design, but not executive. Need to, especially ID, have balance between business, art, and science. It is important that we recognize the global shift where things are outside of the US. Lights his fire to see things in nature.

Ethan Bodnar, young designer from Connecticut. He is speaking/reading too fast to capture his thoughts. Parents were designers and marketers. Met community of designers online, then now have formal education in graphic design in college. Informal education are self initiated. Internet is significant part of his life. Book he compiled is Creative Grab Bag from artist around the world. Changes in education proposed are more history, criticism, and research; culture through liberal arts, social design for human good; informal education, and environmentally-friendly design.

This is a missed opportunity for me because could have had a real discussion about diversity in design, but structured it about age and generations in lives that actually have no connection.

Post Conference contemplation: This was my true What the Fuck!! moment in the conference. Comparing the career of Chuck Harrison to that of Ethan Bodnar was completely disrespectful to Chuck. Chuck has had to carve out an extremely successful career out of an era of racism. He could not get a job because he was black. Ethan Bodnar is a nice kid, but it is key that his Mom and Dad have given him a life of privilege as it relates to a career in design. There were no points of comparison in their careers. What most pissed me off was the disrespect shown by Kurt Andersen to Chuck. His line of questioning "everyone experiences obstacles" was a major WTF!. As long as Kurt is the host of the AIGA conference, I will never attend again. 

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AIGA Make | Think: Nick Law

Nick Law is from Australia. Was a designer in Sydney and learned how to hate advertising. Went on walkabout in England. Learned to hate advertising. Hated graphic designers because thought helvetica was a concept and made more money than he did. He is funny. Came to US and worked in Interactive with lots of men with food in their beards. Joined R/GA since 2001.

Has production company history so very good at making. Company where practice comes first and theory falls out. Then moved more into strategic thinking. Ended up in advertising more than design. The most important technology is TV, which is about ability to tell a story. They became good story teller because of format. Art director and copywriter would hand off (conceptual) story to someone else to develop. Then moved to system, which they are doing is more like designers. You generally don't have people who can do both. 

Grid X is story --- system  Grid Y is think | make. The interesting place is think system quadrant. All the quadrants are important.

Nike Plus platform is something which is a new media based on understanding of human behavior. It is a design way of thinking. Bring together runners through multiple interactive media, Human Race, is to push people into platform. Use campaign to nourish the platform. It is the interplay of advertising and design. The future is not in silos. Challenges are culture and choreography of talent.

Talked about campaign, thatsnotcool.com. a digital platform to deal with digital stalking and sexting.

He was great and funny in the Aussie way. It was good to see interactive media on the main stage.

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AIGA Make | Think: Stefan Bucher

Stefan Bucher, only designer not from New York. =)

Started with film sequence of his work. Beautiful animation of his life work that felt very Monty Python-esque

More on the make side of the man/think scale. In reality, he is much more on the think side, which is unfortunate for him because it is like being an alcoholic. Starts out as a good idea. Treats his brain like cranky hyperactive pitbull, take it to the park and wear it out. Tired out, he can tell it what to do. Why he works by himself and incorporated as 344. Company is respectibility force field for his own thought process. He can control the overhead of his company. Being debt free allows him to say no to clients he do not want and yes to projects he want. Harder to do that when you are responsible for someone's salary or someone is over him.

So many of the presentations are show and tell of designers work, which seems less inspiring for me than other conferences which seemed more about ideas and values of design. This reflects my lesser interest in the making side than the thinking side.

Stefan is discussing his Superbowl poster which is hilarious for much of the audience. =) He is a super cool nerd. Star Trek, Star Wars, Dungeons and Dragons, Team logos, binary code, etc.

Echo Park Time Travel Mark: Convenient store that serves the needs of time traveler. Mammoth Chunks. TK brand: Anti-Robert Fluend, Time-Freezy Hyper Slush. He designed store as well as all the products.

100 Days of Monsters Book. Great process of starting with a ink blot and then drawing a monster from the blot. His presentation is greatly interactive between him and the screen. 

He did a segment of monsters on The Electric Company on PBS. He makes great letter forms.

New book: The Graphic Eye of photos by graphic designers from around the world.

Stefan is very funny. There needs to be more humor in the conference.


AIGA Make | Think: Elizabeth Coleman

Liz Coleman, Design and the Liberal Arts Education.

Thinks a lot about the vast divide between intention and outcome. Conversation is powerful way to education and shape college admissions. How to get perspectives students to tell them about themselves. Often tell students how wonderful the institution is.

Socrates: build a city in speech so that people can see justice. The founders of the US designed a nation based on ideas and the constraints. Nation was created by an act of design. If we're to address today's challenges, we need to redesign the structure of media, justice system, and legislature. 

Liberal arts is tied to ethos of democracy. A liberal arts education is designed to foster a student's broadest intellectual and deepest ethical potential. Traditional education is deeper knowledge about less and less.

Oversimplification of civic engagement is about idealization of the expert, fragmentation of knowledge, technical mastery, and neutrality.

What kind of a world are we making? Should we be making? Can we be making? are questions not asked.

We cannot have a viable democracy made up of experts, zealots, politicians, and spectators.

This is really depressing. Having attended a liberal arts institution, Bryn Mawr College, I understand intimately the value, but her prognosis of the world does not match the current optimism that I feel.

New curriculum is focused on equity, education, the environment, governance, the uses of force, and health. Rhetoric with its emphasis of organizing the world of words and design with its focus on organizing of the world of things. They will keep things open to new possibilities. 

Takes as much energy to do stupid things to do positive things.

Post conference contemplation: It is really unfortunate that the lecturing style of the presentation (medium) really did obscure what was an important message.


AIGA Make | Think: Marissa Mayer of Google

Google focuses on the user and the value of simplicity. She had been the keeper of the homepage. First home page was due to the fact that the main designer did not do HTML. January 2000 did a user study with Stanford students. The first users were waiting for the page to load before doing the rest of the search. Usability insight: Put copyright notice on the bottom of the page. There have been many iterations on the home page. Two weeks ago made the search box bigger and made the type bigger. Searchers started searching 1% more. Found fewer spelling mistakes.

Google lets the data decide. Do split testing with two groups and give them two experiences for usability.

Battle of the Blues: Discovered that the blue on search was different for blue on Gmail. Did test with 41 shades of blue between the Gmail and search blue. Graphs that came back the more green the more abandonment and time to search. The more blue get less abandonment and less time to search.

Latency in design matters. Users have preferences that they cannot articulate. Some changes made reader faster and increased use by 20%.

Google Checkout: Put image on checkout and latency went down 2% and search went down. Drew the image as bitmap style so did not gain latency.

Google news takes 8 seconds to load. Used HTML tables thus it appears to be faster. Broke up into little tables of chunks can see about the fold in 1 second and the rest comes in the other 7 seconds.

Google is in 140 languages. How do they do that? They message on the site that if you don't see your language, then create it. Use crowd sourcing of fans to sign up and volunteer to translate to produce versions in own languages.

Be unexpected: the changing of the logo is unexpected. Little bit of unexpectedness.

Innovation is design is about experimentation.

This was a great and very professional presentation.

Post conference contemplation: I owe design observer an article about the use of data to make design decisions. I think googles ability to do significant user testing at a scale of 41 shades of blue is amazing and provides designers with great knowledge as to the true intentions of their designs. I disagree with the idea that billion dollar business decisions should be made based purely on gut instinct especially if you can get user data to test its impact, not just its aesthetics.


AIGA Make | Think: Command X Round 02

Contestant 01: Ryan did a hand lettered Captain Crunch box that gave adults permission to indulge in eating the cereal.

Contestant 02: Bobby did a pornographic Cap'n Crunch box in dark with his cap over his dong. "You and the Cap'N Make it Hap'n: sexually stimulating cereal. 

Contestant 03: Allison did a groovy 1960s nostalgic Captain Crunch. 

Contestant 04: (female) Emphasized hat and mustache with nice red and blue palette.

Contestant 05: (female) Cereal hat with mustache out of hair. Yellow, white, and orange color palette. 

Who will be deleted? Stay tuned.