The Design Debates

HOW AIGA LA REINVENTED THE TOWN HALL MEETING.

THE la creative community HAS THE FLOOR.

The annual town hall meeting is an important part of the AIGA LA programming calendar. We celebrate our chapter's big wins, we share the challenges that lie ahead, and we get valuable in-person feedback from our members.

For the 2016 town hall meeting, we were looking for new ways to start a discussion. How do we get people talking about the issues that matter to design professionals? How can we gather new intelligence about what our members care about? How do we inject new life into the town hall meeting format and create an event worthy of the top-notch creatives we serve? The Design Debates served as our answer.

RESEARCH

After receiving valuable insights from senior advisors who ran their own town hall meetings in previous years, we set out to add more speaking and presentations to our format. Since 2016 is an election year filled with lively debate, we thought it'd be a good idea to ride that national political wave and come up with a series of our own debates with a focus on the design community.

We spent a lot of time developing the tone of the Design Debates. The content started in a fairly irreverent place. (Wine vs. coffee! Red vs. blue, the actual colors and not the states! Beards vs. glasses!) But after reviewing the content and approaching potential speakers and sponsors, we realized that our live event content required more nutrition, a newsworthy hook to elevate our community's discourse. We selected three current trends affecting design—social media reactions to major rebrands, virtual reality in exhibition spaces, and the value of photography and illustration in a digital marketplace—and selected talent from our chapter and affiliated organizations.

STRATEGY

AIGA LA features a wealth of programming, and our challenge with each event is the same: how do we extend the conversation past that one single night? How do we ensure that the content from The Design Debates can last long after those three hours at the venue?

We embraced this program as a golden opportunity to test new activities and features for our events. We incorporated design thinking facilitation into programming feedback activations in multiple sections of the main room, and we developed new video content especially for the Design Debates under the AIGA Studios umbrella.

EXECUTION + RESULTS

The Design Debates launched at LA City Hall on March 31, and the 100+ attendees were energized, engaged, and provided a lot of insightful feedback that influenced our chapter's future development.

The talent assembled for each debate were eager participants and shared a wealth of valuable knowledge. The new videos and the design thinking facilitations were a smashing success, generating increased interest in future content production and providing a tangible foundation for next year's AIGA LA programming slate.