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SEGD Love Stories
SEGDers encompass a global, multidisciplinary community of professionals who plan, design, and build experiences that connect people to place. Our community includes over 2,000 members from 35 countries, and everyone has an SEGD love story. Whether it’s participating in an event that advanced your design perspective, meeting someone who would become a lifelong creative collaborator, or discovering a new project or person that inspired you to learn more about the practice, SEGD has fostered countless connections over the years.
As we lead into our 50th anniversary, we will be highlighting a range of SEGDers. Each has distinct SEGD experiences, and all are connected in how SEGD has advanced their passions and pursuits. Follow the “SEGD Love Stories” series to hear from people who love SEGD.
Want to share your story? Please complete this interest form. We may highlight it over the course of the year!
Dondi J. Aguirre
Title: Visual Designer
I don’t know where to start. Attending the 2022 SEGD Conference in Portland was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had in my life. I didn’t know what to expect and was a little intimidated that I was attending as a recent grad who did not know anyone. I was greeted with warm gestures that began at the welcome party. I attempted to pay for a drink and a gentleman next to me named Blake from Houston said it was taken care of. He invited me to join his table of what must have been 15 people. He said, “We got a straggler here,” and the rest was history. I was greeted with smiles and friendly handshakes by people from all over the country in that one introduction.
I really appreciated the attention catered to recent grads, students, and young designers to have an opportunity to connect with seasoned designers at the start of the day over a cup of coffee. I enjoyed the Young Designers Series of lunch events where professionals could share their stories, which I found to be inspirational. The mentor meetup was really great as it gave me the opportunity to connect with young designers like me, meet mentors, and hear their stories while learning about their work.
"Story" was such a powerful word that really spoke to me during the conference. What are the stories of whom we design for and those who design, to enrich the lives of people from communities all over the world? The story of understanding history so we learn from our past to not repeat it, so we as a society can move forward and embrace difference and not fear it. I was moved by the Tactile Of History project that won best of show. It made me reflect on what is happening today in the world as we watch from afar on the TV news. The story of the Neuro-Divergent Project was touching as I had learning disabilities as a child and was intrigued by the depth of focus on ways to help people with learning curves. Story after story was shared and I was inspired by how designers harnessed empathy and used research to design solutions to make a difference in people's lives. I want to be on stage one day and share a story through design. I can only hope to make an impact in the way I observed through the projects created by the Global Design Award Winners.
I enjoyed the last day inspired by the Design Excellence Case Studies presentations. I didn’t realize there was not a Q&A after the speakers because I asked the gentleman behind me if they were taking questions. After introducing ourselves by first name we talked a little between some of the speakers. By the end of the day listening to a story of resilience by the closing keynote speaker Eric Alba, white envelopes were passed out to the audience. I thought it was an activity related to the conference maybe but I opened mine and found a resume inside. An announcement was made regarding the resumes distributed and I didn’t know what I could personally do to help this young designer out, as I was only a recent grad and felt I was in the same boat. I turned behind me and noticed another man was sitting next to Michael who I met earlier in the conference. I asked them if they’d like to take the resume I was given and maybe they could do something more than I could. Johnathan and Michael took the resume and said that was a nice thing for me to do to help a fellow peer. I just wanted do what I could to help and then Michael asked for my email and I asked if they’d like to have my card. They took my card and paused, looking at my card and each other as they realized the envelopes they held contained my resume inside. They reintroduced themselves with friendly smiles as Johnathan Alger from C&G Partners and Michael Gericke from Pentagram. One day I will be sitting in a chair as they were and hope I will be in position to help an aspiring young designer as I am today.
I feel as if I can keep going and write a novel about the amazing experience, I had at the 2022 SEGD Conference. From conversations of the young designer meetups to the bike tour and learning about Portland’s rich history, to the fun interactions with people from all over the world at the trade show and receptions, to the dinners with newfound friends, I feel now I have a second family that I refer to as my SEGD family.
I went to this conference with thoughts that I just finished school and needed to do something in the professional world as I embark on my search for a career in EGD. I went with the intention of networking to find a job. I was given the opportunity to show my portfolio and received great feedback from seasoned design professionals. What happened though was something even more amazing. I went to a conference not knowing what to expect and was welcomed by like-minded design lovers and made amazing friendships. And that is something that is organic and pure. Something like friendship cannot be searched for. I know the job will come when it’s supposed to. I am very grateful to be a part of the SEGD community and I wanted to say thank you to the SEGD staff — Cybelle, Jennette, Sarah, and Nadia — for the work you all did to put the 2022 SEGD Experience Portland conference together. It was an experience and memory I will never forget.
Your friend from Austin, TX
Dondi J. Aguirre
Dondi is a multi-disciplined artist and visual designer. With a background in fine art and past experience in the hospitality industry, he transitioned his passion for helping others and his natural creativity towards earning a BFA in Communication Design at Texas State University. Having recently graduated, he is currently seeking a role as an Experiential Graphic Designer. For more about Dondi and his work, visit www.dondiaguirre.com/.