If there were two overarching takeaways from the AIGANY “In the House” event last night, they were that in-house designers, at least the ones from kate spade new york, JetBlue and the Whitney Museum of American Art, are incredibly committed, creative, business savvy and articulate, and that there should have been a sea of “suits” in the audience to hear them along with the designers in attendance.
Any businessperson’s prejudiced assumption that designers are just people who make things look pretty would be quickly laid to rest after listening in on the presentations and subsequent dialogue. In addition to the artfully designed artifacts that these teams presented, was the design thinking mindset that they clearly possessed and acted upon in the execution of their projects.
Their perfect blend of bottom-line priorities and top-line aesthetics showed up in considerations like designing aircraft graphics that use a minimum of paint so as not to weigh down the plane and use extra fuel or constructing websites designed to enhance collaboration within the entire organization by basing them on the wiki model.
Branding was a central theme but it was embraced in differing ways. While some of the teams employed a top-down approach, not all pushed it out beyond their internal groups and, most interestingly, some allowed the brand to express itself organically and over time before committing to formal brand guidelines.
Most obvious was the passion expressed by all of the panelists. Passion for design, passion for their companies and passion for the people in and the culture of their teams. Their companies are fortunate to have them and the New York design community was fortunate to experience that passion – at least for one night.