Art Center Design Conference

22 Mar 2004|Terri Ducay

Having just returned from the Art Center Design Conference, Bruce Mau has reinforced my belief that designers are brilliant at problem solving complex issues.


The conference took place in my favorite city Los Angeles and held in what use to be the Southern California Cooperative Wind Tunnel used to test aircraft for aerodynamic data. This tunnel was one of the first large supersonic tunnels in the world! Not surprisingly, such a large space was not intimate for this conference, but I found comfort when I looked up. Bowed across the wide space was an incredible, cathedral like wooden ceiling. The beauty of the natural material, living in a city of concrete, made me appreciate the rebirthing of this building into an art school.

The conference featured 30+ speakers, whose presentations included
– Portfolio Reviews, e.g. Eiko Ishioka who has worked in graphic design, costume design, music videos, etc.
– Repackaged TED Conference Speeches, e.g. Dean Kamens the inventor of the Segway
– Storytelling, e.g. Andrew Stanton Writer-director at Pixar Animation Studios
– Rethinking Design Models, e.g. Bruce Mau principal and founder of the Toronto design group Bruce Mau Design Studio.

It was Bruce Mau and his talk on Massive Change: The Future of Global Design that resonated most. Mau outlined and gave examples of how design has a responsibility to move from an industrial manufacturing system model (one-in, one-out) into a distributed solution model (one-in, many-out). What impressed me was Mau’s organized thinking and systemic approach to problem solving.

Hearing Mau reinforced my belief that designers are brilliant at refining complex issues, showing relationships, and making connections that lead to new thinking and envisioning the opportunities.

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