While in NYC, we were able to listen to several incredible speeches about design during the AIGA/Gain business and design conference. The topics ranged from graphic design, urban design and even food design. These presentations were not only informative but also highly inspirational (to the point that I started sketching design ideas while in the audience).
The designer that I found to be the most interesting was a person who specialized in urban design. Urban design is a field I have been interested in for awhile now, and in fact, I originally thought I would go into architecture. Robert Hammond talked about the renovation of Manhattan’s High Line. It was originally an above street rail road but fell into disrepair. He designed an entire identity and program for the restoration project and ended up designing the High Line into an urban park. He took several ideas submitted from people all over the tri-state area (including the idea for a downtown rollercoaster and a mile-long lap pool) and ended up with an incredible plan. One of the most incredible parts of the High Line is an area where they tore down a bridge over a road and replaced it with a glass wall.
Another great speaker was Soraya Darabi who used food as her design medium. The project I found to be absolutely amazing was the ones she did in Japan and Lebanon. She included a normal table in her installation, but the table cloth went up instead of down to the floor. There were slits in the cloth for people to put their heads and hands through. Once seated, people could only see faces and hands instead of jewelry, cloths, and other societal markers that divide us into classes. In Lebanon she recreated the Green Line (a line that divided the nation during the civil war and separated the Muslim West and the Christian East) with green foods and held the dinner at the town bazaar. People from both sides came and ingested the green food as if they were ingesting the bad memories of the Green Line. In the end, the Green Line of food was gone and there was nothing separating them anymore. I found this to be an incredible way to use design, and food as well, to cross cultural boundaries and bring people together.
By the end of the conference, we learned how design can be used to change and shape the world for the better. We networked with our designing peers and made friendships and business relationships with professionals from around the nation. It was an experience of a lifetime and I personally will never forget the lessons I learned at Gain.
Junior graphic design major from Ada, Ohio