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Ohio Northern Students "Pivot" at National Design Conference

October—Design is at a critical inflection point as a practice, thought process and force for change.

At “Pivot,” this year’s AIGA Design Conference, eight design students joined Prof. Brit Rowe and over 1,500 professional designers in Phoenix to explore the shifts prompting this change—and how individual designers can prepare for the complexities of the future.

Held in Phoenix, the conference examined the power of design, how to exceed clients’ expectations, and how to be more effective than ever as society, the economy and the context for design change.

After three intensive days of inspiring speakers, practical workshops and in-depth discussions, ONU students walked away with a new perspective on the changing design industry and actionable insights on how to increase value to clients and improve practice long term.

A philosophy of the ONU design program is to be active in the design community. “It’s very important that our students are active in AIGA,” said Rowe. “Our AIGA student chapter provides exposure to the design world, but this conference truly is the best hands-on educational experience our students can receive.”

Students from Ohio Northern’s Art & Design department who attended this year’s conference included:
• Andrew Adams
• Kevin Drain
• Jerry Beard
• Matt Madsen
• Danielle Whisman
• Vicki Moga
• Roger Young
• Rachel Pioch

From branding and culture to data visualization and sustainable design, the curators gathered the best from all professions for provocative discussions. Whether an experienced or emerging designer, this intensive conference helped to prepare for complexities of the future.

  • On the main stage, participants experienced in a diverse array of inspiring speakers and enjoyed the wit and wisdom of moderator Kurt Andersen, author, design critic and host of Studio 360;
  • Attendees chose from a wide range of breakout sessions on topics ranging from sustainability, branding, and in-house to globalization and interaction design;
  • The audience cheered on the next generation of designers in Command X: Season 3, the ultimate live reality show to find America’s next top designer;
  • Participants also had an opportunity to get their creative juices flowing at hands-on creative workshops led by artists and designers from around the country;
  • Student portfolios were reviewed by some of the top designers in the country;
  • Attendees also gained tactical strategies that could be taken back to business through practice management workshops;
  • A few ONU students got up-close and personal with their design heroes at daily designer roundtables;
  • Participants explored examples of the best design through exhibitions and local studio tours;
  • Attendees also made important connections to enhance their business at the Design Fair;
  • And everyone continued the discussions beyond the stage with networking receptions, evening events and more;
  • For a complete list of speakers, visit the Pivot website:

AIGA’s executive director, Ric Grefe, said that, “Change is everywhere, everyday. It can seem relentless and unexpected, even daunting in anticipation. But it can also be exhilarating. We are surrounded by ‘new.’ New economy. New channels. New communities. New civic perspective. New social contract. New opportunities for innovation. New expectations of designers. New designers. New markets. New acceptance of both new and old attributes for design: strategic, problem-solving, cross-disciplinary, sustainable, authentic, simple, multicultural, empathetic, human-centered, global, socially responsible, open source.

“Designers must take advantage of this momentum,” continued Grefe. “Why? Because demonstrating relevance and leadership during this time of change will create opportunities to add value to business and society, which in turn will strengthen the design profession.”

AIGA, the professional association for design, is the premier place for design. AIGA’s mission is to advance designing as a professional craft, strategic tool and vital cultural force. AIGA stimulates thinking about design through journals, conferences, competitions and exhibitions; demonstrates the value of design to business, the public and government officials; and empowers the success of designers at each stage of their careers by providing invaluable educational and social resources.

Founded in 1914, AIGA remains the oldest and largest professional membership organization for design. AIGA now represents more than 22,000 design professionals, educators and students through national activities and local programs developed by 64 chapters and 240 student groups. AIGA is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) educational institution.

The 2010–11 year marks the 50th anniversary of the Bachelor of Arts degree in art at Ohio Northern University. Growing from a single-discipline school, the department offers both the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees with majors in advertising design, art education, graphic design and studio arts with concentrations in two-dimensions, three-dimensions and art therapy. The department of A&D holds memberships in national organizations such as the National Art Education Association, College Art Association, Foundations in Art: Theory and Education and the National Council on Education of Ceramic Arts. The department is also recognized in the second and third editions of “Creative Colleges: A Guide for Student Actors, Artists, Dancers, Musicians and Writers” as one of the best creative programs nationwide. For additional information about the department of art & design or the University’s 2010-11 Arts Exhibition Season, contact the department at 419.772.2160.

image: The ONU delegation at Pivot: Prof. Brit Rowe, Matt Madsen, Rachel Pioch, Jerry Beard, Andrew Adams, Kevin Drain, Roger Young, Vicki Moga, and Daniele Whisman.