Written by Ryan Margaret Lee
Last week, I had the incredible opportunity to step into the vibrant world of design by
attending the 2023 AIGA Design Conference in the heart of New York City. It was an
experience that left me unbelievably inspired and with a newfound appreciation for the
ever-evolving world of design. As this was my first time attending a design conference,
AIGA blew my mind and I couldn't be more excited to share the highlights and amazing
knowledge I gained.
After arriving in the city and immediately feeling the thriving creative energy of New
York, myself and the group of Live Oakers I visited with, had the
opportunity to tour the SYLVAIN Design Studio. It was immediately inspiring to see such
a lively and welcoming group of designers create an incredible energy and completely
light up their space. Here we heard from Micheal Kaye, their Chief Design Officer, and many members of the SYLVAIN team ranging from all different areas of expertise.
Throughout the tour we visited different stations each allowing us to peer into a window of their process. Throughout the three stations, they stressed the importance of multidisciplinary thinking and the fluid communication between design and
research, the essence of craft and lack of ego, and the possibilities of discovery through collaboration.
Later on we attended our first conference session which stuck with me throughout the
rest of the weekend and gave me great guidance in regards to my future. The session
was titled How to Land a Job (how fitting) and was led by David Tann, Alberto Rigau,
Kelsy Postlethwait, and Debbie Millman, the host of the conference. Here was where I
gained the takeaway “experiences are experience” from David Tann. David emphasized
the power and essential quality of failure and the building blocks of one's path. Another
takeaway was “there is no excuse not to keep trying and to keep generating work” from
Alberto Rigau. Each of these speakers were incredibly inspiring and allowed me to open
a more comfortable door to the idea of failure which I feel will be vital to my growth as a
The lineup of speakers was nothing short of impressive, featuring industry giants,
visionary thinkers, and cutting-edge artists. Each session was truly captivating and filled
with knowledge which solidified the notion of this being a once in a lifetime experience.
The conference also addressed the practical aspects of a career in design. Workshops
and panel discussions delved into topics like design entrepreneurship, branding and
rebranding through discussions with Pepsi, and the role of design in business. These
insights provided a well-rounded perspective on the industry.
One of the most memorable aspects of the conference was the last panel discussion featuring five powerhouse women of Pentagram including Paula Scher, Emily Oberman, Marina Willer, Natasha Jen, Giorgia Lupi. Nothing could have prepared me for the rush of this panel and how exhilarating it was to hear the knowledge and passion from five women that dominate the design industry.
As the conference drew to a close and the pages of my notebook were filled edge to
edge, I couldn't help but feel an immense sense of gratitude for the opportunity to
immerse myself into the ever captivating world of design. It was a weekend of discovery,
learning, and inspiration that left me with a renewed sense of purpose and an
eagerness to explore and contribute to this remarkable field. I will be forever grateful to
Live Oak for the opportunity to experience this unforgettable journey.