Shining a Light on Design Legends

by Kathleen Byrnes
Director of Events, AIGA Boston

Bright Lights

A couple of weeks ago, I made my way down to New York City to attend the AIGA Bright Lights event. Previously known as the Design Legends Gala, the newly renamed Bright Lights preserves the legacies of designers who have led the way in defining the profession. It was an evening for not only recognizing and celebrating achievements, but for helping AIGA raise funds to continue preserving the heritage of design though its archives and to support the next generation of designers.

A who’s who of graphic design gathered to celebrate those whose creativity, innovation, and brilliance have defined the design profession. Jennifer Morla, Steve Frykholm, and John Maeda were honored with the AIGA Medal, and Method and Tiffany & Co. received the AIGA Corporate Leadership Award. Morla was acknowledged for her poignant designs and her ability to refocus the way we see the familiar. Frykholm was recognized for his 40-year career at Herman Miller and for establishing the highest standards of corporate design. Maeda was honored for pushing the boundaries of design into new realms and for bringing digital technology into art education.

When I was in art school, I pored over the works of Paula Scher, Milton Glaser,
Massimo Vignelli, Herbert Bayer, and Bradbury Thompson, to name a few. I engrossed myself in their designs, trying to gain knowledge from their visual dialogue. I was motivated by their creativity. I can’t image where I’d be today without the inspiration of so many talented designers.

At Bright Lights, I found myself in the same room with many of these legends. I for one am glad to live in a world where there are designers who inspire me and elevate me to maintain a commitment to excellence. Some may criticize Bright Lights for being self-congratulatory and perhaps even frivolous, but it wasn’t to me. I think it is important that we recognize and support the achievements of our fellow designers. I found it humbling.

Design has the power to affect the world, and there are many examples of strong design being executed today. Bright Lights celebrated the achievements of not only three individuals and two corporations, but of all the designers out there willing to push the expected into new arenas and uphold good design as essential to their success.

By AIGA Boston
Published April 21, 2011