Originally written for AIGA Jacksonville – I Love Design, presented by Print Resources Jacksonville is one of the four major annual events in AIGA Jacksonville’s rigorous programming schedule and focuses on the love for design that we as creatives share. The theme of love is enhanced by its proximity to Valentine’s Day and the speaker is historically an industry veteran – one that can speak to the longevity of an inspired design career. We were fortunate enough to have our guest Liz Danzico who has spent many creative years in the information architecture and user experience arena. Her presentation, What We Love(d) exhibited a thought provoking view into the role of nostalgia in our conceptual careers.
The event was kicked off at the beautiful AT&T Building in downtown Jacksonville. A meet and greet style happy hour prior to the event was filled with many active members of our design community making for a fun and free form discussion amongst friends and colleagues. The delicious spread of Mediterranean-inspired food was graciously sponsored by Character Counts (special thanks to Florence Haridan and Tina Veitch). We also enjoyed incredible cupcakes and sweets provided by Sweet & Flour (special thanks to Marisa Ratliff).
As the presentation portion of the event began, we were able to get an inspirational peek at Acquired Taste, a short film concepted by Membership Chair Stephanie Soden. This brief glimpse into the film showed just a portion of the genius from the likes of local creative community legends such as Jefferson Rall, Jan Korb, Mark Barnhart, Mary Fisher, David Wingard and Carl Smith. The immense value of the discussion was immeasurable. Many props go out to not only Stephanie Soden for putting this together and making it happen but also to the seasoned veterans who took valuable time out of their busy schedules to participate. Don’t miss out – make sure to view the film on our Vimeo page.
Following Acquired Taste, our Programming Chair, Jim Ward, introduced our honorary guest speaker Liz Danzico. Liz introduced us to a complex theme that we might have never considered in such a way before. As ambassadors of our personal history in our own lives, we will always find a place for the past to be contextualized in our present. As technology develops it reinforces the nostalgia that we seem to crave and brings about a romance of positive past memories. Whether it is the “rejiggering” of old concepts with new tools, reinventing of old models, or the bringing about of new forms created by the canonization of existing ones – a bit of our past observations seem to reemerge in our current creative manifestations.
She went on to explain how past themes are ever present in our daily lives, and presented an example of how the Occupy movement can be viewed as a resurgence with the same fervor of youth in the late 60s. This time their voices are amplified through the uses of new technologies the Internet has provided. The same can be said for the emergence of retail stores such as Pottery Barn, IKEA or Starbucks which present us with a perception of items and products that speak to us as culturally authentic, yet in reality are anything but. Liz made reference to how this is followed by a culture of media that has exploited the opportunity to teach us how to use this “commercialized authenticity” of which we are now exposed. This becomes apparent in entertainment programming such as Top Chef, Trading Spaces or Project Runway. In turn, we (our culture) eventually become “authenticity stylist” in our own right.
What is the future of the past? Liz referenced author Clay Shirky, “In the same way that the web at one point made everyone an accidental publisher, the web plus 15 years has made everyone an accidental archivist.” So where do we go from here? We can speculate that we will see a continuation of an influx of technological development for archival tools, the prevalence of a curator role, and the dissolution of the traditional historian.
As creatives these themes seem to be something we face and can potentially use more than the average human. How can it be applied to our lives and careers? Design comes from a moment (or combination of moments) of inspiration. The ways that we observe our world and more importantly interpret it to our audience are of great importance in how our message is effectively communicated. We can consider the direction we would like to present and use this information to become a different type of design observer – by evaluating what we love about both the past and present and in turn realizing that ultimately we are able to allow ourselves to take more risks.