Critical Initiatives

The Design Forward Alliance offers a platform to share new design principles, processes, and tools of design to solve complex problems in businesses, schools, and communities around the region. Our initiatives focus on achieving our objectives: promote, connect, and advocate.

Community Events

Connecting the design and business communities.

Community events feature leaders in design, business and local government and foster dialog about solving complex challenges in today's ever-changing world. Past events have brought leaders including Don Norman (Director, Design Lab at UC San Diego), Barbara Bry (District 1 Councilwoman and Council President Pro Tem), Chuck Longnecker (Telepathy), Wayne Partello (San Diego Padres), Stacey Pennington (SLP Urban Planning and MakersQuarter), Victor Nacif (former Vice President of Design at Nissan Design Europe), and many more.



Raising the awareness of human-centered design.

The Design Forward Summit offers keynote speakers, thought-provoking panelists, and energizing workshops to empower attendees with useful information, methods, and tools to help us move the world of design forward.

Recent speakers include Phil Gilbert (General Manager of Design, IBM) , Meriah Garrett (Head of Design, USAA), Mauro Porcini (Head of Design, PepsiCo), Robert Schwartz (General Manager of Global Design, GE Healthcare), Kurt Walecki (Vice President of Design, Intuit), and Sam Yen (Chief Design Officer, SAP).

The Design Forward Summit takes place on odd years (2019, 2021, 2023, etc) 


Design Forward Showcase

Highlighting local design excellence.

The Design Forward Showcase highlight human-centered design excellence from across the San Diego mega-region in the transportation, software, healthcare, urban planning, science, and education sectors.

Over the past several years, we’ve featured experiences from Gaslight, MakersQuarter, GoPro, Digital Telepathy, MiresBall, K+K, BNIM, Product Etc, TheFreeRide, FreshForm, Intersection-Inc, Illumina, Brojure, the News Children’s Museum, The Design Lab Automation Team and many more.

The Design Forward Showcase takes place on even years (2018, 2020, 2022, etc) 


World Design Capital (WDO)

Highlighting San Diego’S Design-Driven Innovation.

Our goal: Attract international recognition for San Diego by making it the official “World Design Capital” by 2028.

The World Design Capital is a designation given every two years by the World Design Organization after a rigorous review of the applications from competing cities around the world. To achieve this honor, the city must demonstrate the role of design in transforming the economic, social, cultural, and environmental development of the city.