By Roger Showley Contact Reporter for San Diego UT)
Design — in all its forms — will be at the forefront of the San Diego civic conversation this week with advocates hoping San Diego will be declared a “Design World Capital” by 2028.
“Design is not likely what you expect it is,” said Scott Robinson, a graphic designer who founded his FreshForm Interactive digital marketing company in 2001 and chairs the year-old Design Forward Alliance. “Design today is solving complex problems.”
Urban design, architectural design and design thinking will be the focus at three sets of events starting Wednesday.
The sponsoring groups are:
- The Design Forward Alliance, a spinoff of UC San Diego’s Design Lab, will hold its second annual Design Forward Summit that runs Wednesday through Friday. The goal is to inject the design mindset into local business, government and community activities.
- The San Diego Architectural Foundation will present its annual Orchids & Onions Awards on Thursday to highlight good and bad architecture, landscape architecture and urban design.
- The local chapter of the American Institute of Architects, which is finishing up its monthlong Archtoberfest of design panels, tours and talks, will announce its annual design awards Nov. 2 for the year’s best architectural work.
The Design Forward Summit offers the most ambitious agenda. There will be a kickoff reception at the Broadway Pavilion on the downtown waterfront, followed by two days of panels, speakers and workshops at Liberty Station.
Leading speakers include executives from IBM, Pepsico, USAA insurance who will talk about how their companies are incorporating artists, architects and other designers into day-to-day decision making.
Robinson said three quarterly events will be held next year prior to the next summit in the fall.
“Our long-term goal as a team is that we want San Diego to be known as a design-driven, innovation economy,” he said.
And ultimately, he said, the group hopes San Diego will win the designation “World Design Capital” by 2028.
The two-year honor comes from the Montreal-based World Design Organization, formerly known as the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design.
Founded in 1957, it has grown to include 140 member organizations from 40 nations. It began naming world design capitals in 2008 with the latest being Lille, France, for 2020-2021. No U.S. city has yet won the designation.
Phil Gilbert, general manager of design for IBM in Austin, Texas, said he will tell the Design Forward Summit how IBM hired 1,500 artists, architects and other designers to help the company reengineer its products and services.
“The consumers of things don’t care what it takes to bring them together,” he said. “But from our standpoint as a large enterprise and working with thousands of companies around the world that are also trying to deliver experiences (for users and consumers), what we found at the beginning of this century was that the old ways of working didn’t deliver these experiences as well as they could.”
He said IBM recently brought designers together with software and hardware engineers to develop a new main frame computer.
“They’re doing phenomenal work on a platform that has existed for decades and brought a completely new life and absolute relevancy to that platform,” he said.
The Design Forward Summit kickoff event will take place at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Broadway Pavilion at the foot of Broadway. The Thursday panels, workshops and other events will take place from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Liberty Station in Point Loma.
Last month, the UC San Diego Design Lab, led by Don Norman, launched a hackathon of designers, students and interested residents to invent new products and services related to mobility — commuting, biking and walking, and public transit.
Since then more than 50 teams have to working on prototypes and winners will be announced at the end of the Thursday sessions, to be followed by a reception.
An all-event pass costs $649 with less for the Thursday events and Friday workshops. Details are available at designforwardsd.com.
The Orchids & Onions awards program will take at the U.S. Grant Hotel, starting with a reception at 6 p.m. and the ceremony at 8 p.m. Tickets for the ceremony are $20 each and the reception and ceremony cost is $120 with less for members of the San Diego Architectural Foundation. More details are available at orchidsandonions.org.
The architectural Design Awards from the AIA local chapter will be handed out at 6 p.m. Nov. 2 at the University of San Diego’s Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, followed by a reception. The cost is $65 with less for members and students. More details are available at aiasandiego.org.