Icograda’s Design Week Vancouver 2010

Matt SamyciaWood – One Comment

I believe there is always room for every person to grow, personally and professionally. But as an Art Director (and father of a two year old) my ‘spare’ time for a conference is very limited. I have been in this industry for 15 years and without sounding arrogant, I know a lot about this industry. If I am going to take five days to attend a conference it better be something significant that will make a positive difference for my career. I also want to see speakers who are funny, intelligent and poignant. I have no interest seeing presentations that are nothing more than monotone portfolio overviews with little or no relevance to the conference theme.

So, why should I get excited about Icograda’s Design Week Vancouver being hosted by GDC in April of this year?

Well, there is the fact that it is hosted in the convention centre in my beautiful hometown of Vancouver. An international conference on my doorstep of this calibre (which would normally involve air-flight and hotels adding extra expense) is a wonderful opportunity, I would be a fool not to attend for this reason alone.

I enjoyed watching this presentation recently given by GDC President, Rod Roodenburg, where he said “we don’t have the answers but we have ideas, and so do you. Lets create the value of design together”. That one statement alone inspires me to want to attend this conference. Going to a conference to truly participate and contribute on a global level sounds refreshing.

I am hooked by the theme ‘Design Currency: Defining the Value of Design’. Working in a service-based industry we often bump up against the value of design. How do you put a dollar value to a service for a client? What impact will the completed design work have on your clients business? What parameters does the client use to judge that impact and how does that translate into value for them or their clientele? Also, in a world where you can buy a logo for next to nothing on certain ‘generic logo’ sites, or use a myriad of crowd sourcing sites, how do we educate a client on the value of strategic design and the process behind it?

The conference is an international event organized by Icograda (International Council of Graphic Design Associations), the world body for professional communication design. The conference will host speakers who are all world-class design experts from countries around the globe (Canada, US, France, Denmark, Hong Kong, and India to mention just a few).

I believe many creative designers are multi-disciplined in their thinking but lack the skills to implement these ideas. Personally I am a wanna be architect, interior designer and car designer but unfortunately my buildings would probably collapse and my cars would never start. That being said, I am excited that the speakers at the conference will be from varying disciplines of design with experts from the fields of architecture, industrial design, branding, strategy, and interactive design.

At the same time as the conference there will also be a trade fair where you will get to meet lots of industry suppliers and network with top management from leading design agencies, design media, design students and design educators. Additionally, there will be lots of wonderful printed samples for our greedy design fingers to flip through, admire, critique (“I can’t believe they used that typeface” or “look at that leading”), and to smell the wonders of printed ink (slight personal obsession).

On the Friday the day will be divided into workshops and an education symposium. Thursday night the conference will host the Graphex 2010 awards gala, celebrating and acknowledging the best of Canadian design over the past two years. I attended the 2008 awards gala and was impressed by the whole night (the MC Ze Frank was a hoot, this year it is Debbie Millman). It was an opportunity to connect with my design colleagues and meet admired designers from studios across Canada. Did I mention the cocktail reception and three course plated dinner?

The world has many currencies but the GDC and Icograda felt there was one missing—a ‘design currency’. One that could transcend different economies but could still represent monetary value on a balance sheet. Hence the ‘Design Dollar’ icon used as the conference logo mark. I am intrigued by the logo for the conference. There is a logo for the conference, how cool is that? It has me instantly ask questions. What is this currency? Where is it used? How is it used? What is the value? What is the Canadian Dollar and Design Dollar exchange rate? It acts as a vehicle to start asking questions drawing you in and enrolling you into the topic of the conference. Rather than the conference title set in just Helvetica (as many conference often do), strategy and thought have been put into not just the logo but into other promotional materials and brand elements. I am excited to see the full extent of which this graphic theme will be incorporated throughout the conference and trade fair. I have seen people at local design events recently wearing Design Currency promotional t-shirts that states ‘This shirt is worth 150 Design Dollars’. Inviting people to engage in dialogue about the value of design, actively promoting the conference but more so the topic of the conference. It is truly a great PR campaign.

One of the conference events that I am most keen to attend is the ‘Dinner With a Side of Design”, April 25, 26 & 28. A long table series at Irish Heather (great beer and food) combining local leaders and designers in collaborative conversations focused around the complex themes of sustainability, culture and economics. i have never heard of such an opportunity where my thoughts and ideas would have an actual impact on our city.

I’ve heard that speakers have been encouraged to avoid portfolio presentations in favour of theme-focussed dialogue and that there will be panel discussions and break-out groups. Collectively (speakers and the attendees) will come to conclusions together to include the following: What is the true value of design? How can graphic designers contribute to positive change in the world? What is the impact and value that your design has on the bottom line socially, environmentally, economically and culturally?

By attending this conference I believe the global perspectives learned, relationships made, practical lessons learned will benefit my career (and yours) not only for the next short while but continuously long term.

I encourage you to join me and register online by visiting the design week website


  • Luisa

    I agree with you that every person has its room to grow and i think you have grown enough in this field.

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