Embracing Disruption with Patrick Gallagher, FSEGD

Patrick Gallagher wants to know: Are you prepared for the disruption of your business in the future? On November 2, the SEGD Fellow will challenge attendees to think about the way they approach design and the future of design at the 2017 SEGD Xlab event.

As president and founder of the Washington, D.C.-based design firm Gallagher & Associates, Patrick has led the development of notable museum planning and exhibition design projects around the world, from the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles and the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., to the Shanghai Museum of Natural History and the Sant Ocean Hall at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. His experience spans more than 30 years and includes projects ranging from museum planning and exhibition design to full-service museum development projects.

At Xlab, you’ll have the chance to learn first-hand from this leader in experiential graphic design. Here, Patrick shares a little insight into the future of design and the importance of disruption.

How do you approach design?

I approach design as fresh opportunity to think more critically about why I am involved in the industry. There are no preconceived borders or boundaries that I like to operate within. Each design opportunity should be a learning experience for me on what I don’t know and what I might be able to explore.

How have you seen design evolve over the course of your career?

Design seemed to become more personal and focused on the identity and needs of the individual user. Design has also evolved by the tools we use to create with and how we consume design.

What innovative projects have you worked on that you are most proud of?

Innovative projects for me are ones that I know have truly moved my audience and changed their lives. More often than not, those are projects of memory and emotion where the simplicity of design in the storytelling comes down to the very basic human storyteller.

The theme of the Xlab event is “Experience Design in the Era of Disruption.” What does “disruption” look like to you?

Disruption is a frame of reference for me that, for the most part, defines change. If something has been disrupted, it causes it to change on any number of levels. Disruption is actually a powerful and meaningful word in my vocabulary.  

Why is disruption important to a designer?

Often designers feel more comfortable with things progressing consistently and smoothly. When a client or peer is disruptive to a design, it can often be viewed quite negatively. However, I think being disruptive to a design process is extremely healthy, as it motivates deeper thinking and expanded creativity.  

Tell us about your session.

We live in a time of extreme disruption where change and challenge are endlessly affecting how we design and the way we live. Are we ready to step outside our comfort zone to make decisions about who we are as designers and how we are leading our firms by embracing disruption?

What do you hope attendees will take away from your session?

That disruption is an extremely powerful tool and, as much as we should be strategic, we should also be extremely disruptive or the future may be more frightening than you think.

What are you looking forward to most at the 2017 SEGD Xlab event?

I am interested to see the type of people who are coming to experience why disruption is such an important and powerful tool.


Don’t miss Patrick’s thought-provoking presentation at 2017 SEGD Xlab, November 2 (event) and 3 (optional tours). Space is limited—register now!

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