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Ohio Northern design students attend conference highlighting design’s critical role in revitalizing business

Debbie Millman at GAINConcluding National Design Week, several Ohio Northern University design students and faculty attended this year’s AIGA’s ninth biennial Gain: Design and Business Conference, which focused on the provocative theme “Design (Re)Invents.” Creative and corporate leaders discussed how they addressed business challenges through design—and how they reinvented their businesses (from Walmart to WIRED), their strategies, and even themselves.

Held October 14-16 in New York City, the conference was presented by AIGA, the national professional organization for design. AIGA’s 21,000-person membership comprises graphic designers, brand consultants, design firm principals, web designers and corporate in-house designers from across the United States.

Students and faculty who attended Gain this year were:
• Brit Rowe, associate professor of art & design
• Andrew Adams, junior graphic design major
Tori Brake, senior graphic design major
• Andrew Crozier, junior graphic design major
• Rachel Pioch, junior graphic design major
• Mike Madsen, senior graphic design major
• Bethany Schreck, senior advertising design major
• Jessica Whitley, senior graphic design major
• Roger Young, junior graphic design major

The Gain: Design and Business Conference concentrated on how design can recharge everything from consumer brands to comic books, from the way we eat to the way we interact. Through case studies and discussions moderated by conference moderator Paola Antonelli, senior curator of architecture and design at MoMA, the field’s brightest minds demonstrated how they reinvented their businesses by employing smart design.

Speakers included:
Gadi Amit, CEO of the industrial design firm NewDealDesign;

Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa, founder and CEO, Teshkeel Media Group, and creator of the first group of comic superheroes born of an Islamic archetype, The 99, which has received critical acclaim from around the world—including praise from President Barack Obama at the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship;

J Allard, former chief experience officer and chief technology officer of the Entertainment and Devices Division at Microsoft, who managed the technical development of the Xbox console and Zune media player;

David Droga, founder and creative chairman of Droga5, one of the most recognized independent advertising agencies in America and the group behind the award-winning Puma Index campaign;

Erica Eden, senior industrial designer at Smart Design and co-founder of Femme Den, a team of researchers, designers and engineers at the forefront of investigations into the connection between design and gender;

Jonathan Harris, artist, computer scientist and designer, who founded number27 and co-created We Feel Fine, “an almanac of human emotion” website that continuously measures human beings’ combined emotional temperature through large-scale blog analysis;

Bjarke Ingels, founder of the architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG);

Jon C. Iwata, senior vice president, marketing and communications, IBM;

Larry Keeley, co-founder and president of innovation firm Doblin, a strategist who has worked for 30 years to develop more effective innovation methods, and a creative visionary whom BusinessWeek recently named one of the 27 most influential designers in the world;

John Maeda, artist, author, computer scientist and president of RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) who served as associate director of research at MIT’s Media Lab and works to integrate technology, education and the arts into a 21st-century synthesis of creativity and innovation;

Su Mathews, senior partner at legendary branding firm Lippincott, led the development and launch of Walmart’s brand revitalization—a massive repositioning that contemporized the brand while retaining the values of its legacy and heritage;

Fiona Morrison, director of brand and advertising at JetBlue;   

Marije Vogelzang, owner and founder of Studio Marije Vogelzang and Proef, and a pioneer in the field of eating design who creates provocative yet intimate new food rituals and art installations.

AIGA, the professional association for design, stimulates thinking about design, demonstrates the value of design and empowers the success of designers at each stage of their careers. AIGA’s mission is to advance designing as a professional craft, strategic tool and vital cultural force. Founded in 1914, AIGA remains the oldest and largest professional membership organization for design. For more information, visit

The 2010–11 academic 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: National AIGA President Debbie Millman, managing partner and president of the design division at Sterling Brands, welcomes about 1,000 designers to Gain.

For additional images, visit the 2010 GAIN photo album.