Nine years ago I decided to attend the AIGA Power of Design Conference in Vancouver, BC to hopefully inspire my seemingly more and more laborious corporate design work. I wanted to talk with other designers and see some really interesting print material that would push me to be more creative in the annual projects I had lost interest in. I felt my job was a blessing, after being unemployed for a year after the dot com crash, but didn’t feel challenged any longer. Everything seemed too easy. I wanted a new challenge. On the plane ride to Vancouver I got my wish. The plane was packed with designers all chattering in excitement about what they do and how they hoped the conference would influence their process. The first day of the conference was no different. I felt I had made the right decision in making the trip. What I didn’t expect, however, was that the conference would completely reshape my view on design and cause me to, 10 months later, quit my job.
The conference introduced me to the concept of sustainability and more importantly how it relates to design. It connected me with people and new ideas. It was, of sorts, an awakening. I left my job, went to graduate school at the University of Texas and there developed Re-nourish (improved upon later with Yvette) as my solution to what I learned that day in October of 2003. All of this work led me to academia where I’ve since had the luxury of traveling around the world lecturing on similar stages where I saw others inspire me in Vancouver. In each occasion I meet many people who had similar awakenings. Designers, like you and me, who saw a film, met a person, or read a book that motivated them to shift gears and refocus on what really matters in their lives in context with the planet. These same people I meet and receive emails from keep me focused on why I created Re-nourish and give up a job (whose salary I’ve yet to reach again) to help make the world a better place through design. Thanks to all of you who keep pushing me. This is what is magical about the designers who are committed to sustainability. We give each other free advice, share resources, and check our egos at the door. We’re in this together. It’s always great to be surrounded by these people learning why they love the power of design and learning from their experiences.
What was your awakening? I’d love to know.