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The Future of Graphic Design: Thoughts from an International Symposium

Conference at the London College of Communication
Every few years, a New Views symposium is held to focus on graphic design at the international level. In 2008 the London College of Communication held the symposium, entitled New Views 2: An International Symposium Defining Graphic Design for the Future. More than 15 countries were represented by 83 delegates, for a total of 115 attendees. The aim of the seminar was to craft ideas to propel graphic design into the future. The conversation was not about the practice of graphic design per se, but rather the exchange of theoretical and academic viewpoints. In other words, it was a highbrow dialogue of scholars, including some Socratic-style discussions. The quandaries were about philosophical problems in graphic design, not about practical questions like, "Can I be a successful graphic designer even if I don"t want to do web design?-
Theoretical Implications for Graphic Design
One speculation that resulted from some heated group debate is that design is dead. No, this does not mean graphic design is going to be extinct; rather, design as we know it is. A graphic designer"s work should be a journey. To succeed, a designer can no longer enter at the closing stage of the marketing process, create a website or company logo, and call it a day; he or she must be present from the beginning.
The keynote by Chris Downs focused on "service design,- meaning that design is something that should be utilized rather than merely produced. Mr. Downs" opinion is that design should be less about a product and more about connecting people and creating social links. In a nutshell, designers should be "stewards.-
Terry Irwin, who co-founded MetaDesign in San Francisco, California, gave a speech about moving away from a narrow way of doing things, and shifting toward a broader, holistic, more responsible way of doing business. Ms. Irwin admitted to being uncertain about how to strike the right balance between the client"s work and the responsibility to the world at large.
Others suggested that "graphic designer- is too broad a term to encompass the profession, and that the name should morph into several new occupational titles. For more information on the symposium, visit
Clerke, T. (2009, February). New Views 2: Conversations and Dialogues in Graphic Design: An International Symposium Defining Graphic Design for the Future. Visual Communication, 8(1), 177-122. Retrieved February 17, 2009, doi:10.1177/1470357208099150

By Michelle Simmons
Get Graphic Design Jobs, Contributing Editor

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