Never Stop Learning: Discoveries from the 2015 AIGA Design Conference

I recently attended the 2015 AIGA Design Conference – the biggest event of the year for creatives from across the nation – with fellow designer B Holly Aguilar. This year, the conference was in New Orleans, and the theme was Revival: a restoration of bodily or mental vigor, life or consciousness, or sporting success. The dense three-day event sought to reignite the roots of our creativity and push us into new interpretations of what creativity and design mean. 

Through the conference’s keynote speakers and affinity sessions, we kept seeing the theme of “Re-” appear. We know what it means to imagine, define and connect, but these sessions gave us new perspectives on each of those seemingly simple creative tasks. Since the conference, we’ve both worked to keep these things top-of-mind and apply them to our client work. Here are some of the best ideas we brought home to the B:

Design is art that can go anywhere -Micheal BierutReimagine:

  • The future. From 2015-25, technology and design will intersect in weird and wonderful new ways. Check out some of the coolest advances in What’s New, What’s Next: emerging trends.

  • Recycling. Sevra Davis discussed the opportunities designers have to innovate the production process for sustainability. For example, a simple spray bottle can’t be recycled before the metal spring inside is removed by hand. When designing print or packaging, we need to consider the start AND end of a product’s life.

  • The power of design. As Michael Bierut said, “Design is art that can go anywhere.” Design is art for a purpose. Not just a purpose of communicating – but of impacting society. 


  • How a brand connects with customers. In the affinity session Designing Experiences that Connect: The Secret Science of Happiness, Debbie Millman and Rick Wise talked about how chemical reactions in our brains make us remember experiences in two parts – the peak and the end – and how that affects the way people interact with brands.

  • Creativity in the age of automation. Instead of being threatened by automation, we can see it as a way to liberate ourselves from management and carve out the freedom to intuit and create with purpose.

  • Creative thinking. Bert Aldridge stated that creativity is not a talent – it’s a way of operating. Designers are business people; we just function differently in the context of business. We tackle the “what ifs” and recognize it’s a messy process and it’s OK to be wrong.


  • With consumers by merging storytelling with content and shopping. Mariana Bukvic emphasized the importance of a strategy that includes personalization and empowerment for the consumer. 

  • With colleagues, with our local chapter, with new work of designers/firms we’ve always admired.

  • With yourself. Remember why you design and the impact you can have. As Justin Skeesuck said during his powerful story of his journey, “Do not underestimate the power your creativity has to impact others.”

Don’t miss next year’s conference in Las Vegas. Registration is already open.

AIGA Revival from Nessim Higson on Vimeo.


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