The most recent manifestation of the AIGA’s new emphasis on demonstrating the business value of design is AIGA DESIGNING. This initiative’s centerpiece is a kind of universal framework for the development of design solutions — not necessarily a prescriptive approach to tackling any design challenge, but a method for structurally understanding how design solutions become reality.
[Full disclosure: The AIGA was a client of Behavior when we developed Gain 2.0 for them in Fall 2002.]The message that the AIGA is trying to communicate is that designing an annual report is no different from designing a new product, a new company, a new mode of transportation, etc. It’s actually a compelling theory, and its propagation is a laudable goal, one that many leading design practitioners have been promoting since the late 90’s with mixed success.
But the case studies section of AIGA DESIGNING gives a hint of how difficult it is to support this hypothesis: of the nine examples in evidence, perhaps only one or two really skirt the boundaries of traditional graphic design. That’s not to say that these nine aren’t excellent examples of tangible, real-world design challenges met by forward-thinking designers. In fact, they are a strong foundation for a potentially valuable resource, one that authoritatively demonstrates how the design process can benefit the world at large. I hope that the feature that allows other designers to ‘contribute your design project,’ currently in ‘coming soon’ mode, diversifies the studies found here.