Design is a broad term that can refer to a wide variety of disciplines and processes – from graphic design and architecture to interior design, fashion, technology, and many other practices. But design is also about creating solutions or abstract systems to discover underlying causes, solve problems, or meet specific requirements.
And while the organized design community in San Diego is still evolving, several institutions, key partners, and designers have worked together to kick off the first San Diego Design Week: a five-day series of lectures, tours, and workshops that is a city-wide celebration of design generally represent. It is presented by the Mingei International Museum, which “took the lead in organizing the first-ever San Diego Design Week over a year ago as an expression of its mission to celebrate human creativity from all cultures and eras”. Mingei also secured funding for the event through grants and corporate support.
For the recording:
11:51 a.m., September 8, 2020An earlier version of this story contained a quote that was attributed to the wrong person. The following quote should be attributed to Elena Pacenti, Dean of the School of Design at the NewSchool of Architecture & Design, and read as follows: As San Diego evolves and evolves into its role as a design hub, Pacenti hopes that “the design will die San Diego community will preserve its local wealth and uniqueness, yet become part of the global design conversation and contribute with solutions that show how design can improve people’s lives and the planet. “
Don Norman, director of the Design Lab at the University of California in San Diego and author of “The Design of Everyday Things”, expands our concept of design: “Everyone is a designer. We shape when we change the world in order to benefit ourselves or the world. Design is a mindset – a way of changing things forever. Design is often confused with art, but it’s not art. Art is an expression of the individual artist, but design is about creating something that influences you. Something designed for a person. It’s a different way of thinking. “
Don Norman, Director of the Design Lab at the University of California at San Diego and author of “The Design of Everyday Things”
When Norman began his tenure as a director in 2014, he was told that there is no group of designers in San Diego. After some research, however, he found various groups of designers across the county. Too often these people felt isolated, and they too often assumed that San Diego had no design community, even though there were thousands of designers across the area.
Elena Pacenti, Dean of the School of Design at the NewSchool of Architecture & Design, had a similar impression of San Diego in 2013: “The community was a bit fragmented and the enclaves of different professionals – architects, product designers, interior designers, graphics, UX, etc. – did not have enough cross-border dialogues. “
Erwin Hines, Creative Director at BASIC Agency, an independent brand and experience design company in San Diego, confirms this early suspicion that San Diego “is definitely viewed as a non-creative city. … I think most people get the idea that San Diego is just beaches, beer, and surfing, but it’s so much more than that. San Diego is home to a very diverse collection of communities and creators. “
Erwin Hines, Creative Director at BASIC Agency
As with design, often such problems become opportunities for brand new solutions. Norman started organizing events like the Design Forward Summit in 2016 to bring the design community together. Over 600 people attended the first event, followed by another in 2017. The first thing was to make San Diego the global capital for human-centered design.
In addition to the influx of opportunities to study design in colleges, organizations like the Design Forward Alliance have been established in San Diego to promote and facilitate design-driven innovation in the San Diego area.
Design has become a way of thinking and solving social problems, and San Diego is not lacking in important problems that require the help of designers.
“The most important thing about designers is that the first thing we need to do is understand who we’re building for,” says Norman. “Second, we don’t want to come in and tell them, ‘Here’s your problem, here’s what to do. … ‘Instead, we observe and find the creative people in each church and ask how we can help.’
Design is particularly important in San Diego, and events like Design Week draw attention to this work. Pacenti saw growth during her tenure in San Diego: “I’ve watched the design community grow and develop. Design Week is the perfect example of an initiative that will strengthen the design culture in San Diego and make it accessible and visible to the community at large. “
Hines believes that San Diego’s design is truly something unique.
“I feel like San Diego has a special place in the world when it comes to design,” he says. “It’s a space that is undefined, which means that people don’t create based on a pre-defined formula for success. I see so many creative solutions across all industries in San Diego that I just don’t see it anywhere else. ”
Design Week program director Stacy Kelley says Design Week is meant to go beyond the impact design has on America’s most beautiful city today.
“With the 2020 theme from Design +, we are not only looking at how design shapes the region and our everyday lives,” she says, “but also the potential of design to imagine a new future. … It’s an opportunity for conversation and connection that feels more important today than ever. “
As San Diego evolves and evolves into its role as a design hub, Pacenti hopes that “the San Diego design community will retain its local richness and uniqueness while still becoming part of the global design conversation and contributing with solutions that show how design can improve people’s lives and the planet. “
Going forward, Norman’s goal is to make San Diego the world design capital by 2024. This requires significant efforts from the design community to make San Diego a better place to live and work. To be the capital city, San Diego has to show how design affects every aspect of the city. The combined efforts of this community will provide an opportunity at Design Week to showcase their latest work and potential in design, he said.
“This is only the first chapter, and the hope is that the projects and collaborations initiated this summer will be further expanded in the months and years to come.”
San Diego Design Week, presented by the Mingei International Museum
When: September 9th to 13th
Daichendt, Vice Provost for Bachelor Studies and Professor of Art History at Point Loma Nazarene University, is a freelance writer.
The UC San Diego Geisel Library building
(KC Alfred / The San Diego Union-Tribune)