John Maeda, and design leadership

09annualheaderThis is the second entry from the 34th Annual Design Management Institute conference titled, Design Complexity and Change. And it was a great day

John Maeda, the current President of the Rhode Island School of Design and the former MIT Professor of Media Arts and Associate Director of the MIT Media Lab, gave an inspirational presentation on Creative Leadership. He spoke about  his experiences during the first year at RISD, and the inherent conflicts of the artist as administrator at one of the most respected centers for creative learning in the country. .

His current gig at RISD allows him to view first hand the intersection of education, art and design, and he spoke eloquently about his perceptions of the similarities and differences between the two disciplines. He suggested that artists are great at asking questions, while designers create solutions.

He also spoke about the traditional role of technology to support business, and more importantly how design thinking is now being included in much of this decision-making. Interestingly he feels that art, or more specifically the unique ability of artists to ask questions, may be the future fourth element in business decision-making.

But it was his observations about science that caught my attention. He suggested a very clear and concise analogy for the role of design in business. He maintains that engineers are to science what designers are to art. Designers bring logic and methodology to the arts just as engineers bring reality to raw science.

This seems like a wonderfully clear way for designers to demonstrate an unmistakable distinction between the discipline of their creative methodology and the role of an artist. Again artists ask questions, while designers create solutions.


About Richard Shear

designer, husband, teacher, blogger, father, athlete, author, historian Richard has over 25 years of brand identity and package design experience, with a wide range of clients such as Ahold, Coca-Cola, Hasbro, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Pernod Ricard and Procter & Gamble. He began his career working with the legendary advertising art director, and AIGA Medalist, George Lois and the British design manager Clive Chajet. In his next design management position at Lippincott & Margulies, he worked with Walter Margulies learning the complex skills of global corporate identity. He then became Creative Director and Partner at Peterson & Blyth, one of the premier brand identity and package design firms of the time. He is a founding faculty member of the Masters in Branding Program at New York’s School of Visual Arts. He publishes the blog The Package Unseen, and has been a guest lecturer at colleges including FIT, Trinity College and Tyler School of Art. He is a graduate of the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. Richard is a Board member of the AIGA MetroNorth Chapter, past President of AIGA‘s Brand Design Association, President of the Package Design Council and a member of its Board of Directors. He is a member of USA Cycling and US Rowing, a nationally ranked masters bicycle racer, and a member of The Saugatuck Rowing Club, the 2010 Masters Club National Champion.
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One Response to John Maeda, and design leadership

  1. Pingback: John Maeda, and design leadership « The Package Unseen | Conceptguy

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