Design Forces Converge at the 2014 SEGD Conference in Atlanta
Ideas, cultures, disciplines, and geographies converged in Atlanta June 5-7 for the 2014 SEGD Conference themed Convergence: Crossing Lines.
Just as Atlanta is a city that has been shaped dramatically by social, cultural, and historical forces, design is continuing to shape and reshape itself as disciplines, technologies, and social changes collide.
Close to 500 conference attendees heard about Convergence from a diverse range of speakers—including urban artist HENSE (Atlanta), Wayshowing author Per Mollerup (Copenhagen/Melbourne), designer Andreas Uebele (Stuttgart), and designer and SEGD Fellow Clifford Selbert (Los Angeles)—on topics ranging from reshaping urban landscapes to a street sign that is changing the world.
Attendees also gathered at the sixth annual SEGD Academic Summit, toured several project sites around Atlanta, gave back to the community during the conference’s signature Design Improv program, networked at a series of social events, and participated in panel discussions on topics such as Women in EGD and Converging Generations.
“What a fabulous three days in Atlanta,” says Steve Carlin, 2014 SEGD Conference Chair and environmental graphics associate at Cooper Carry (Atlanta). “I could not have asked for a more inspiring set of presenters and tours. The hotel was a great setting that helped keep the energy up. And the variety of vendors in the NEXPO was the most diverse we’ve seen in years.”
Here’s What Attendees Had to Say…
"Converging theory and practice, excellence, innovation, and inspiration, the SEGD Atlanta 2014 Conference truly lived up to its theme! I’m proud to be part of such an amazingly talented community of professional designers, artists, educators, and innovators!" -Joell Angel-Chumbley, Design Manager, Kolar Design (Cincinnati)
"I find the conference so incredibly inspiring…from the people I get to meet to the projects I learn about and the cities I visit. It's truly a welcoming group that values the multitude of experiences and knowledge that everyone brings to the table." -David Siegel, Designtex (New York)
“This was my first SEGD Conference. It was great to meet so many people from across the country who participate in the industry in many different ways. The NEXPO inspired a lot of great ideas for use of new materials and applications.” Rachel Friedman, TENFOLD (Columbus, Ohio)
“Attending the conference this year, after a year away, confirmed its value as an opportunity to connect with professionals who have common goals, experiences, and frustrations and gain perspective on our ever-evolving field. It was interesting to hear that we all face similar challenges—clients, deadlines, personnel, etc. It is easy to forget that these issues are universal when you are caught up in your own version! There were principals sharing resumes of potential candidates and open discussions of process that can only happen when you’re speaking with other practitioners. Add to that the inspiration in hearing a great designer, artist, planner, or thinker speak about their work and you have what we look forward to each year: an excuse to visit a new city, see old friends, make new ones, and get inspired!” -Darlene van Uden, Infinite Scale (Salt Lake City)
Thursday, June 5
At Design Improv(e), about 45 participants divided into teams to create concepts for a campus wayfinding program for the Emmaus House, a non-profit advocacy group that helps residents of Atlanta’s Peoplestown neighborhood move beyond poverty. The winning concept was created by the team of Ben Whitehouse, Whitehouse & Company; Daniela Pilossof, Vancouver Aquarium; Katelyn Ungashick, Jon Richards Company, and John Myers, Century Sign Builders. Cooper Carry and L. Bernhardt Design will work with Emmaus House to develop the concept into a programming and design development package. Steve Reinisch, The Great Detail Guy, has volunteered to complete the drawings in a design-intent set. Gary Stemler, archetype (Design Improv(e) sponsor), and Teresa Cox, APCO, along with local fabricators, have expressed interest in helping build the package for Emmaus House.
Project tours are a conference favorite, and this year didn’t disappoint. Attendees got first-hand, back-story tours of Piedmont Park/ Atlanta BeltLine, Piedmont Park/ Atlanta Botanical Garden, Atlanta Type Walk, Martin Luther King Jr. Museum/ Carter Center, Old Fourth Ward/ Ponce City Market, World of Coca-Cola/ Centennial Olympic Park, and CNN Center/ Centennial Olympic Park.
Other Thursday events were the SEGD Academic Summit, the Practice & Purpose Leadership Summit, and the Process Learning Series, which included sessions on the Business of Design (Managing Partnerships in Global Practice), Collaboration (Fabrication and Design: Stronger Together), and Technology and Media (Designing and Specifying for Immersive Experiences).
Thursday concluded with the President’s Reception, the signature conference kick-off. The party was held in the Overlook Room of the Loews Atlanta hotel, a glass-encased venue that gave participants a premium view of a dramatic pop-up thunderstorm and rainbow.
Friday, June 6
NEXPO is always a source for project ideas, materials, methods, and collaborations. At this year’s NEXPO, 45 exhibitors showcased their new products, services, and partnership opportunities. Several exhibitors were recognized for their outstanding booths:
-Best Artisan Booth: Marcel Mächler Inc.
-Best Supplier Booth: Lucite International
-Best New Product: Ultimate PremiumPlus vinyl by Arlon Graphics
-Best Booth: Bitro Group
Conference sessions focused on Convergence through the lens of Atlanta. The city that was born at the nexus of the original southeastern rail lines is reimagining what it means to live in an urban setting. Hank Richardson, president of Portfolio Center Atlanta, moderated sessions on innovative urban redevelopment projects including the Atlanta BeltLine (concept design by Perkins+Will), Ponce City Market (EGD by Design360), and the fun, colorful, and vibrant new brand for Atlanta’s Midtown. Martin Treu, author of Signs, Streets, and Storefronts, provided a historical perspective on the city’s urban evolution.
In the conference’s first-ever Young Creatives session, attendees shared their perspectives on EGD, XGD, the growth of digital technology, and the types of programming they’d like to see from SEGD. Participants had the chance to meet and network with other young creatives as well as SEGD Board members. SEGD’s Young Creatives Initiative includes firms such as Calori & Vanden-Eynden, Cloud Gehshan Associates, Design Communications Ltd., Entro, ex;it, fd2s, Gensler, Gresham, Smith and Partners, Kate Keating Associates, Mayer Reed, MERJE, Holmes Wood, and Frost.
Graffiti tagger turned urban muralist and fine artist HENSE (aka Alex Brewer) inspired with his graphic, colorful, pattern-filled pieces that appear in cities worldwide. HENSE shared how he made the transition from the streets to the gallery and why he wakes up every day excited to make art. (Read our interview and see his work here.)
Long-time SEGD member and past president John Muhlhausen entertained and inspired with his story of a life dedicated to design and sailing. “With his moving story, he reminded us why design and beauty are so important in our lives,” said Richardson.
SEGD’s (not-so-silent) Auction for Education ended the day Friday, raising more than $20,000 for SEGD educational programming.
Saturday, June 7
While showing a breathtaking collection of work that combines typography with architecture, Andreas Uebele told attendees, “I don’t believe in ideas. I only believe in process.” Conference moderator Hank Richardson said Uebele “makes the ordinary extraordinary.” When he asked Uebele what inspires him, the designer replied: “I only know how to do graphic design and I can earn money from that.” (Read our interview with Uebele.)
Academic and design thinker/writer Per Mollerup, author of Wayshowing, Marks of Excellence, and now Wayshowing>Wayfinding, told attendees that “The best environment is its own wayfinding,” and reminded them that waylosing isn’t so bad, either. (Read our interview with Mollerup.)
Douglas Morris, co-founder and partner in the award-winning firm Poulin + Morris, was named 2014 SEGD Fellow in a special celebration honoring his many contributions to SEGD and his firm’s award-winning and innovative body of work. The past SEGD chapter chair, board member, and president has directed projects for numerous high-profile clients, from NPR to the Newseum, WGBH Boston, Conrad New York, the Time Warner Center, and the National Museum of American Jewish History.
Other members were honored for their contributions to SEGD and the field of EGD:
--Arrow Award: Harry Neiman of Neiman and Company, “for demonstrating exemplary dedication to advancing technologies
and manufacturing in environmental graphic design, and striving to provide
the highest quality in products and services to the field”
--Distinguished Member Award: Cybelle Jones, Gallagher & Associates, “for demonstrating outstanding volunteer efforts while significantly contributing to the direction, growth, and
excellence of SEGD programs”
--Insight Award: Portsmouth City Council, Portsmouth, UK, “for consistently commissioning environmental graphic design programs that
significantly enhance or promote opportunities for the field and
environmental graphic design education, and demonstrating a long-standing
commitment to recognize the field”
A Women in EGD panel moderated by Teresa Cox, APCO Graphics, aired an important and controversial topic. Discussions ranged from equal pay to family/work balance and why women have advantages over men in the workplace. Panel participants included Chris Calori, Calori & Vanden-Eynden Design Consultants; Sarah Huie Coleman, Huie Design; Tali Krakowski, apologue; and Danielle Lindsay-Chung, SOM.
Clifford Selbert, FSEGD, has designed some of the most iconic landmarks in the world—including the LAX Gateway—but in Abu Dhabi, his firm’s humble street sign is changing the world. He and colleague Will Ayers are directing a project that includes naming and signing more than 12,000 streets in Abu Dhabi city. The program will be expanded emirate-wide. (Read the story here.)
The conference grand finale was Saturday night’s SEGD Global Design Awards presentation. Alan Jacobson, chair of the 2014 design awards jury, introduced the 32 winners, including the first-ever Best of Show Award, which went to the epic media landscape at the new Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX. See all of the winning projects in the SEGD Global Design Awards archive at segd.org.
SEGD CEO Clive Roux gave a brief "State of SEGD" report, stating that the new SEGD website is delivering added value and powerful traffic results for members. He cited these statistics:
- segd.org gets 200,000 visits a year (up 17% year on year so far for 2014) and around 1,000,000 page views. Through search optimization with members in mind, we are working on doubling those numbers by attracting traffic that is already looking for the products, services, and expertise our members offer.
- So far, member headshots received 9,000 impressions (these appear on every page of the website).
- Member bios are read about 500 times (when people click on a headshot).
- Firms logos have received 42,000 impressions (logos are on every page of the website).
- Firm listings (read when people click on logos) have been read about 700 times. This is the average; some are much higher depending on when they were posted.
- Best of all, segd.org has delivered 200% to 400% increases in referrals to member firms' websites.
By having a firm's listing and member bio on segd.org, we are also able to get onto the first page of search results with a listing that gives some good solid information about members and their firms.
The 2014 SEGD Conference was made possible by the efforts of many people, including volunteers, sponsors, exhibitors, and speakers. SEGD’s Atlanta chapter has been involved for more than a year planning the conference and organizing local tours and events. Thanks to the following people who were there from the beginning to help plan the conference and organize the local events and tours:
- Steve Carlin, Cooper Carry (Conference Chair/Chapter Co-Chair)
- Lynne Bernhardt, L. Bernhardt Design (Chapter Co-Chair)
- Barry Atwood, Emory University
- Sue Youngblood, Art Institute of Atlanta
- Danny Roberts, APCO
- Teresa Cox, APCO
- Korinna Hirsch, Perkins+Will
- Alex Meiser, Stanley Beaman & Sears
Thank You to our 2014 SEGD Conference Sponsors!
Daktronics (Auction for Education)
MailChimp (Chapter Chair Dinner, SEGD Global Design Awards Presentation and Closing Reception)
Gemini Inc. (Process Learning Series: Business of Design)
Design Communications Ltd. (Excellent and Fellow Awards Luncheon)
Sansi North America (SNA LLC) (Friday Afternoon Main Stage)
Image Manufacturing Group (Conference Tour: Botanical Gardens)
RexFrame (Conference Signage and Graphics)
Tube Art Group (Global Design Awards Presentation and Closing Reception)
Rainier Industries (Process Learning Series: Collaboration)
Xibitz (Presidents Reception and Face2Face ATL)
Marcel Machler (Hotel Key Cards)
Harbinger (Process Learning Series: Technology and Media)
3M (Friday Morning Main Stage)
Neiman and Company (Conference Badges)
AGI (NEXPO Breakfast and Lunch)
Color-Ad Signs and Exhibits (Conference Bags)
archetype (Design Improv/e)
Artcraft Display Graphics (Conference Tour: Type Walk)
CREO Industrial Arts (Practice & Purpose Leadership Summit)
DeNyse Companies (Conference Tour: World of Coca-Cola and Centennial Olympic Park)
The 2015 SEGD Conference will be held in Chicago June 4-6. Mark your calendar!
Photos: Nadia Adona