The 2008 U.S. National Design Summit was organized as a two-day intense workshop with the goal of creating a shared actionable agenda of U.S. design policy for economic competitiveness and democratic governance among the professional design associations, design educational bodies, and the design-related Federal government agencies.
Borrowing from the theme of the first U.S. Federal Design Assembly held in 1973, the first day outlined the Design Necessity, in terms of the initiatives, programs, projects, and even legislative rules that design needs from the government to support the government’s meeting of the economic and democratic needs of the U.S. people. This was accomplished by:
Providing an inclusive framework for design policy based on Dori Tunstall's research, which included as design policy the activities of design promotion, innovation policy (both design innovation and human innovation); design standards for safety, inclusion, sustainability, and quality; and Policy as designed, which is the role of design in the formulation and implementation of government policy.
Participants were provided a global tour of what other countries were doing in regards to national and regional design policy.
Presenting an overview of the Federal Design Improvement Program in the 1970s, which provides a precedent for having a U.S. National Design Policy. It was established by mandate of Richard Nixon, and run by then Nancy Hanks of the National Endowment for the Arts
Having participants add to a map of all of their current design policy related activities, so that everyone knew which activities done in U.S. compared to those of countries with official national design policies.
Brainstorming ideas based on the four-area framework of design policy and building off of one another's ideas.
Summit participants developed over:
- 70 raw proposals to support Design Promotion for economic competitiveness
- 46 raw proposals to support Innovation Policy for economic competitiveness
- 60 raw proposals to support Design Standards for democratic governance
- 80 raw proposals to support Policy as Designed (i.e. the role of design in the formation, understanding, and implementation of policy) for democratic governance
In the evening, there was a group dinner at Café Tropé on Dupont Circle.
Borrowing the theme of the 2nd U.S. Federal Design Assembly held in 1974, the second day outlined the Design Reality in terms of the feasibility of any initiatives, programs, projects, and legislative rules that were proposed within a potential U.S. National Design Policy. This was accomplished by a quick overview of the priorities for the incoming Obama administration. Aligning the proposals to the government priorities was important because one of the conclusions for why the Federal Design Improvement Act disappeared in the 1980s was that it did not align with President Reagan's political priorities.
The criteria for prioritizing proposals were in terms of their value to the American people and the design industry and their operational and political feasibility within the priorities of the design institutions and the government.
Value to the American People Criteria:
A 04 ranking is for proposals that contribute directly to both the economic competitiveness and democratic governance of the US
A 03 ranking is for proposals that contribute directly to either US economic competitiveness and democratic governance
- A 02 ranking is for proposals that contribute indirectly to both the economic competitiveness and democratic governance of the US
- A 01 ranking is for proposals that contribute indirectly to either US economic competitiveness and democratic governance
Value to the Design Community Criteria:
A 04 ranking is for proposals that provide direct value to three or more design fields, professions, or bodies (professional and educational). Direct value could be increasing leadership reach, increasing the number of members/employees/students, or providing additional funding for programs.
A 03 ranking is for proposals that provide direct value to one or two design fields, professions, or bodies (professional and educational),
- A 02 ranking is for proposals that provide indirect value to the design community as a whole. By indirect, we mean it basically provides good design PR for the design communities, increasing the perception of their value to government.
- A 01 ranking is for proposals that provide indirect value to only one or two design fields, organizations, or bodies. These provide mostly good PR for those fields.
Operational Feasibility Criteria:
A 04 ranking is for proposals that require both funding and staff resources from only one or two design organizations or bodies. So if a proposal required only IDSA and AIA to support it with staff and funding, it would be given a 04 ranking.
A 03 ranking is for proposals that require both funding and staff resources from more than three design organizations or bodies. For example, a proposal for the establishment of the American Design Council would require staff and funding from almost all the design organizations.
- A 02 ranking is for proposals that require only staff resources in partnership between government and multiple design organizations. For example, the introduction of a new government regulation might only necessity the labor and skills of staff members in design and government.
- A 01 ranking is for proposals that require both funding and staff resources from both government and multiple design organizations. For example, holding a Federal Design Assembly like those held in the 1970s would require significant funding and staff from government and design organizations.
Political Feasibility Criteria:
Brad McConnell from Senator Dick Durbin's Office helped with the evaluation of political feasibility. He was invited to provide some insight into the political process, so that participants had a realistic sense of how much effort it would take to get something on the political agenda.
A 04 ranking is for proposals that fit within existing and continuing political priorities already in motion. In other words, the proposal can tag along with existing regulations or policy.
- A 03 ranking is for proposals that align with the top priorities of the incoming Obama administration. They directly contribute to the implementation of policies regarding supporting state and local government, major infrastructure projects likes bridges, dams, roads, schools; helping unemployed workers and working families; enhancing education, especially early education; creating green jobs and alternative energy sources to reduce American dependency on foreign oil, expanding health care to the uninsured, and ending the war in Iraq.
- A 02 ranking is for proposals that align with secondary priorities of the incoming Obama administration. It may not be the top ten priorities, but it contributes to others on the list.\
- A 04 ranking is for proposals that introduce new political priorities. They may not be on the Obama radar, but we want to put them on there.
The level of impact and effort for each proposal was provided by this method. The Summit concluded with the proposal of several immediate action steps for developing a U.S. national design policy:
- Re-establish the American Design Council to serve as a unified body representing all the U.S. design fields
- Create a report of the Summit and its proposals as the first publication of the American Design Council
- Seek funding for a report on the contribution of the design industries to the U.S. economy
- Encourage and support the National Endowment for the Art’s proposing of a U.S. National Design Assembly in 2010 and Federal Design Improvement Program in 2011
- Develop case studies from each design field that demonstrates the economic, social, and environmental value of design
- Engage design industry CEOs to provide testimonials of the value of design
- Propose a holistic design award that will represent the highest honor in American design.
Organized by Dr. Elizabeth (Dori) Tunstall, Associate Professor of Design Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the U.S. National Design Summit participants included:
From Professional Design Organizations:
- Richard Grefé, Executive Director of AIGA
- Paul Mendelsohn, Vice President, Government and Community Relations, American Institute of Architects
- Leslie Gallery Dilworth, Executive Director, Society for Environmental Graphic Design
- Deanna Waldron, Director of Government and Public Affairs, American Society of Interior Designers
- Earl Powell, Lifelong Fellow, Design Management Institute
- Frank Tyneski, Executive Director, Industrial Designers Society of America
- Allison Levy, Managing Director of Government and Regulatory Affairs, International Interior Design Association
- Paul Sherman, President, Usability Professionals Association
From Design Education Accreditation Bodies
- Catherine Armour, National Board Member, Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design
- Holly Mattson, Executive Director, Council for Interior Design Accreditation
- Samuel Hope, Executive Director, National Association for Schools of Art and Design
From U.S. Federal Government
- Clark Wilson, Sr. Urban Designer/Environmental Protection Specialist, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- Frank Giblin, Director Urban Development Program, U.S. General Services Administration
- Janice Sterling, Director of Creative Services, U.S. Government Printing Office
- Ronald Keeney, Assistant Director of Creative Services, U.S. Government Printing Office
- Renata Graw, Principal Plural, University of Illinois at Chicago MFA 2008
- Siobhan Gregory, MFA student in Industrial Design at University of Illinois at Chicago
- Alicia Kuri Alamillo, MFA student in Graphic Design at University of Illinois at Chicago
- Matthew Muñoz, Principal Design Heals, North Carolina State University MFA 2008
- Sean Burgess, IDSA
- Tim Adkins, IDSA