Event Recap: “Design Disruptors” Film Screening

AIGA SB revived our film series this past Thursday to screen InVision’s documentary “Design Disruptors,” which has been making its way around AIGA chapters ever since its August debut in San Francisco. The film, which features interviews from designers at many Silicon Valley companies, focuses on their approaches to design as something holistic, not just cosmetic. This peek inside corporate philosophies at Facebook, Google, Twitter, AirBnB, Lyft, MailChimp, DropBox and more revealed how each company is rewriting the future of business in its own way, but common threads included empathy for the end user and how to address design’s lack of diversity.

Our audience of about forty local creative professionals certainly appeared to appreciate the film, gorging on the popcorn and candy we provided and holding several post-screening brainstorms outside the Balboa building’s basement theater. That was a relief for me, because I admit that when previewing this film a few weeks ago, I definitely felt disrupted and only slightly in a good way. I’m ambivalent at best about how buzzy “disruption” has become in the past decade—for any industry—and while this has nothing to do with the film’s insight and quality, it did color my perception.

I had two fairly visceral reactions to the film: fear and envy. The last time I felt either, in relation to my professional career, was after attending my first web design conference at 2007 and feeling completely irrelevant and out of touch with my chosen profession. At the conference I realized that everyone there was five years ahead, skill- and thought-wise, of where I was at the time. They thought more, and better, about design for the web than I felt like I ever would, and it terrified me.


I envied the designers in this film the same way, and realized their focus on user experience and empathy (which I thought I was good at) outstripped my ability by miles and miles. I got over it the next day after a good night’s sleep (and some encouragement from fellow AIGA presidents and HQ in New York), but the points raised by “Design Disruptors” remain essential and valuable: design is as much, if not more so, about solving problems—than about creating pretty visuals to sell things.

If, like me, you’re a bit disoriented at this time in your career, then stay tuned to social and email communications from AIGA SB, our fellow chapters around the country, and the main AIGA feed from New York. If you’re not a member yet, join today and make the best possible investment for your career. AIGA has a lot in the pipeline right now that will continue to prepare and sustain designers and other creative professionals for a successful career during this time of disruption. As always, thanks to the AIGA SB board of directors and our volunteers of all stripes for helping produce a successful event. Thanks to the Balboa building for hosting us, and to InVision for hooking us up with their fine film. Finally, thanks to AIGA SB member Chelsea Lyon for suggesting we screen this film.

Rock Star Gig Rating: On a scale of “zero” to “insane,” this one was like the big gig where the stage manager is melting down with spastic vulnerability behind the scenes but then the crowd goes wild and everything turns out just fine.

By Keir DuBois
Published September 30, 2016
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