AIGA and Winterhouse Institute are joining forces to stage the Aspen Design Summit in November 2009 and galvanize the global design community to engage in projects that promote social change. The goal is to foster collaboration and collective action among the participants to utilize the power of design to help solve large social problems. This summit is supported by the Rockefeller Foundation through a grant to develop collective action and collaboration for social impact involving the design profession as catalysts for solutions.
This is not a conference. Instead we envision a select group of 60 designers, change leaders, NGOs, foundations and experts coming together to engage actively in opportunities to demonstrate design thinking in crafting solutions for large social problems, as well as to use existing networks and programs to accelerate change. Aspen will provide a unique, intimate setting for this work.
Programming is in progress and will be defined fully by September. The goal is to curate a series of potential projects with concrete action plans to be implemented over a two-year period, and to use these projects as demonstrations of the concept of integrative design thinking for human-centered solutions to global social issues. We are envisioning working teams against 5-6 concrete projects; curated presentations; and the chance to explore with a select group of leaders and thinkers future opportunities and models for design solutions against large themes of poverty, health care and education. We promise an intimate environment for conversation and dialogue, a forum for expansive thinking, and hard work against concrete solution-oriented programs. We expect participants to share ideas and experience, pool resources, and document best practices about how the design industry can influence and advance a social change agenda. We will not take on projects that are not actionable within a two year time frame, so we anticipate that one of the rewards of participation will be true and effective change.
Projects being developed include:
- National Design Center for Rural Poverty Programs
One of the poorest regions in the U.S., Hale County, Alabama, is envisioned as a center for implementing design projects to help alleviate rural poverty. A National Design Center for Rural Poverty Programs would act as a laboratory for designers, academics, NGOs, and community groups to experience, research and collaborate on issues related to rural poverty, including health, education, housing and infrastructure. The initiative would build on the presence of groups already in Hale, such as HERO, Rural Studio, Urban Studio, Project M, and Teach for America. The goal is to devise a concept and business model for the Center, which would act as a catalyst for developing resources and programs, with the help of local and visiting design professionals, to drive economic development and social betterment in the region.
- UNICEF Education Programs
This initiative is an AIGA collaboration with UNICEF to rethink approaches to two specific problems that must be overcome to provide effective support to education in developing countries. Faced with enormous challenges to advance education, UNICEF is striving to make schools safer, healthier and more conducive to learning, especially in the case of vulnerable and difficult-to-reach populations or children dislocated by disaster. This initiative will focus on two well-defined projects, each of which can address an immediate need: design a low cost, durable Early Child Education kit that can be used in emergency situations; and design clean, dignified facilities and support services for menstruating girls, so they are more likely to continue to attend classes.
- CDC Public Health Programs for Older Adults
This broad-based public health education campaign, to be developed with the Centers for Disease Control, and perhaps working the AIGA network of 68 regional chapters, will address the issue of promoting healthy aging for older adults. With the number of people aged 65 or older expected to double to 71 million by 2030, this initiative will examine two key issues facing aging populations: the need to broaden the use and availability of potentially life saving preventive services; and to ensure that older adults have the information and services they need in an emergency. In both cases, we envision the collaboration of local communities.
- Mayo Clinic Rural Health Program
The Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation will lead an initiative around rural health care delivery systems and how design can help to impove these systems to broaden their impact, efficiency, and reach. The initiative envisions what a massive, local rural community healthcare intervention might look like.
- Sustainable Food Innovation
A small but broad based revolution is taking place in the food system in the U.S., leading to a fundamental rethinking of how we produce, process, prepare, distribute and consume food. While industrialized agriculture has made more food available to us than ever before, it has come at a great cost to our health, our environment and to traditional farming methods. An obesity epidemic, especially among children, high rates of diet-related disease, and food safety crises, are among the tragic consequences. The goal of the Food Project is to identify where design interventions might change the pace, degree, or scale of food transformations already underway in order to impact the childhood obesity epidemic.
- NewDesign Foundation
This project is aimed at creating a model for how foundations and NGOs can collaborate, and work efficiently and effectively, with leading design firms to foster social impact projects. Conceived at the Rockefeller Foundation Design for Social Impact Workshop in 2008, it has been incubated by Continuum and Doblin/Monitor as a collaborative initiative for leading design firms, foundations and NGOs. A concrete narrative and proposal will be presented at Aspen for further development. The project envisions that 5-10 leading NGOs will participate at the outset, to seed the project with significant challenges and professional partners.
Confirmed Attendees (list in formation 11/09/09)
, Design Research & Strategy Consultant; Adjunct Instructor,
School of Design, Carnegie Mellon University
, Principal, Marc Alt + Partners; AIGA Center for Sustainable Design
, Designmatters, Art Center College of Design
, Director, Healthy Aging Program,
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
, Design Columnist, The New York Times
; Content Strategist,
, Editorial Director, Aspen Design Summit
, Founder, Project M
, Senior Designer/Researcher, SPARC Laboratory,
Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation
, Founder and Principal, Tomorrow; Co-Chair, AIGA Center
for Sustainable Design
, CEO, IDEO
, Vice President, Organizational Innovation, Continuum
, Senior Researcher, The Meraka Institute / South Africa
, Founder, Innovation Studio, Professor of
Industrial Design, RISD
, Founder, Designers Accord
, Director for Innovation and Learning, Kellogg Foundation
, Editor, Core77
, President, Collins
, Assistant Director, Urban Design Lab at The Earth Institute,
, Partner and Strategist, Tomorrow; Strategy Chair,
AIGA Center for Sustainable Design
, Director, Hale County Housing Resources / Alabama
, Partner, Winterhouse
Vanessa Eckstein Arrioja
, Principal, Blok Design / Mexico
, Director of Case Research, Yale School of Management
, MFA Graduate Student, Design Criticism Program,
School of Visual Arts
, Communications Officer, UNICEF
, Vice President Creative, Frog Design
, CEO, Catapult Design
, Director, Rural Studio; Professor of Architecture,
, Executive Director, AIGA
, Chief Design Officer, Johnson&Johnson
J. Daniell Hebert
, CEO, MOTO Development Group
Kathryn E. Johnson
, Board Member, Friends of the UN World Food Programme
, Associate Director, Collaborative Initiatives, MIT
, Creative Director, Ziba Design
, Partner, Doblin/Monitor
, Global Account Manager, Doblin/Monitor
, Writer and Consultant; Co-Author of Mavericks at Work
, Executive Director, Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation
, Editor, Change Observer
, Strategy and Innovation, Vanguard Health Systems
, Executive Creative Director, Ziba Design
, Director, University Center for Economic Development,
University of Alabama
, Director, Urban Studio; Professor of Architecture,
, Principal, Continuum
, VP, Strategy and Experience, MOTO Development Group
, Co-Founder, Hello Health
, Assistant Professor, Graphic Design,
School of the Arts, VCU Qatar
Hanne Bak Pedersen
, Deputy Director, UNICEF Supply Division
, Founder and President, Public Architecture
, Principal, Schwartz Powell
, Research Fellow, Continuum
, Founder, Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE)
, Education Specialist, UNICEF Supply Division
, Creative Director, Frog Design
, Principal, Kinetik Communications
, Associate Clinical Professor, Yale School of Public Health;
Director, Sickness Prevention Achieved through Regional Collaboration
Amy B. Slonim
, AARP Liaison, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
, Administrative Director, Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation
, CEO, Your Own Democracy
, Principal, Zago
, Terranova Group and National Association for the
Practice of Anthropology
Jen van der Meer
, Chair, o2NYC
, Strategist and Activist; Chair, o2NYC
, Innovation & Design Editor, Business Week
, Social Impact Lead, IDEO
The Aspen Design Summit 2009 will take place at Aspen Meadows, Colorado from 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 11 through noon on Saturday, November 14. Participation is by invitation only.
Rockefeller Foundation support allows us to offer free housing and meals at Aspen. Participants are expected to pay their own travel expenses.
Detailed directions and conference logistics will be available for attendees by October 2009.
, which represents the largest design community in the United States, as well as leading international initiatives, is a professional design organization with 68 local chapters. This will be the third Aspen Design Summit under the auspices of AIGA. The last Summit led to initiatives including the Design for the Other 90% exhibition at the Cooper-Hewitt and the Index:|AIGA Aspen Design Challenge, a call to students worldwide to raise awareness of the need for improved access to fresh water with innovative design solutions. Richard Grefé, executive director, is co-chair of this Aspen summit.
will act as catalyst, coordinator and champion of an initiative in the public sphere to develop collective action and collaboration for social impact across the design industry; it will also create a communications platform for the conference, including an editorial website to monitor and report on developments. Funding for this work is through the Rockefeller Foundation. It's websites, Design Observer, Change Observer and Places, are the leading design news, commentary and criticism publications online, and will be a resource for the distribution of outcomes from Aspen Design Summit. William Drenttel, director, co-chair of this Aspen summit.
, Winterhouse Institute
, Change Observer
Aspen Project Manager