2020 Is on the SEGD Naughty List

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“2020 Is on the SEGD Naughty List”

I was listening to a live stream interview in which the woman being interviewed said that every year she writes her annual “sh*t list.” This is a cathartic exercise where she pits “worst thing” of the year against the other “worst things.” Each year becomes more competitive for her to highlight absolute “worst clients,” “worst design solutions,” etc. as she builds her collection of wretchedly bad things that happened.

I thought it would be a therapeutic exercise to start my own 2020 list but then how could any other year compare? So before I even started, I felt a twinge of guilt because even though 2020 had brought an endless series of seemingly insurmountable things to deal with, in return, it proved to show how resilient the human spirit is and particularly the camaraderie and support within the community of SEGD. So to close out 2020, it might be better to document what continued to go well despite the unprecedented list of “reasons to put 2020 on the naughty year list”.

Without a doubt this year has brought tremendous change for all of us. I have heard from so many members and peers over the last seven months since I joined as the new CEO. You have shared personal struggles as leaders: trying to balance keeping your offices afloat as projects went on hold, the heartbreak of downsizing, navigating the elusive PPP loan process, all the while pitching for new clients and meeting ever demanding deadlines while trying to stay Covid-free.

As a result, I have seen a great deal of support for each other, new connections grow, mentors spurred to help those trying to break into the field during such a challenging time. I have seen a surge of caring, commitment, empathy and inspiration to build something new and better than before: a wave of hope in a sea of disruption.

For me personally, to take on a new role as CEO of SEGD in the midst of the pandemic and social unrest, has revealed to me what this organization is made of, what the character of the membership is and how resilient we all are. Being a smaller organization, we are very much in communication, we are bound by what has always made SEGD a stand out community, despite its size. We were one of the first organizations to pivot immediately to virtual programming, and we didn’t let social distancing keep us apart.

We celebrated together all of our moments of pride, with the Global Design Awards and Achievement Awards going online, free and streaming live on Facebook and reaching an audience of 3,745. We shared our Academic Summit with educators from around the globe, who might not have traveled to the conference, but were able to join virtually for the first time. We invited students to Present Themselves and their portfolios to leaders in the EGD profession who shared their insights and experience for in depth critiques and conversations.

Through the month of August, we challenged ourselves to question our role as an experiential design community to make positive change. We shared thought leaders discussing how we “design change” during our Exhibition and Experience month. Hearing from individual designers on the forefront of creating experiences that teach about our biases, how we design for a circular economy and telling whole truths to design a better and more equitable future.

Rounding out the year, we brought an international group of EGD practitioners who represented nearly every continent in the world to discuss how our profession of creatives in wayfinding and placemaking have directly responded to the pandemic. We saw the breadth of experiences impacting communities from Latvia to India and from South Korea to South Africa, all with the same goal: to provide safe, beautiful solutions and clear communication through EGD design.

We were inspired by global design leaders in Branded Environments to learn from Asia and the Middle East where technological interactions are transcending traditional retail and hospitality engagements.

We were incredibly busy this year—that was what I heard from everyone. Multitasking, being scrappy, innovating new ways of doing things, being “so over” zoom. Our long time partners continued to show their support to me, to the staff and to the organization as a whole. We made every effort to put the membership first, to provide the content, the inspiration and conversation to get through 2020 together—stronger!

We are thankful to have all of you—members, supporters, friends—as part of this incredibly talented, creative community. I am personally grateful as CEO for our sponsors who pivoted along with us to virtual platforms and continued to give their support.  Facing financial challenges with the cancellation of the in-person conference and events, our Board of Directors, Chapters and small but committed SEGD staff rose to the occasion to keep us stable.

As we kick 2020 out of our lives, we look forward to exciting new ways to think about our organization: being more connected, more inclusive, breaking barriers of time and geography, more open to hearing different perspectives of what EGD design is and why it is important to society as a whole, with more creativity, experimentation and synchronicity! We have learned to lower our guards and be more accessible and vulnerable so that, together, we are stronger. So much to be thankful for, so much excitement for what is to come!
Wishing you and your loved ones a safe and happy holiday season,

Cybelle Jones



SEGD 2020 By The Numbers

  • 3800 Virtual Engagements
  • 2700 Registered Attendees to Events
  • 1168 Participants for 32 Chapter Events
  • 250+ Speakers
  • 37 Countries Represented
  • 18 National Virtual Events
  • 10 Fellow Webinars