A new design organization?

So, lots of talk about the IDSA in here, which is relevant, but the IDSA did not always exist, in fact it was the result of the merger of several design organizations with different rules and chapters. The strictest of those actually required members to have a product in production I believe.

It is also not the only game in town now with APDF and DMI. Then there are other design disciplin organizations like AIGA and the AIA which I think seem to get credited with doin a pretty good job.

SOOO… I thought it might be a fun exercise to design a design organization on here on a conceptual level:

What would it be called?
Would it have a strict membership hurdle or be open to all?
What services could it provide?
How would it be organized?
What would the revenue stream be?

Design Party
Membership: Open to all, but have an application process so the leaders can know more about their members. This way we can have a better database of where everyone works, what industries, the breakdown of gender, age, geography, interests (within and out of design) so we can provide better networking opportunities.

Networking for designers.
Mentorships between professionals and students.
Virtual critique (students can upload projects, and professionals could go through and critique)
Workshops, tutorials, web live stream events.
Work showcase.
Well written blog (see Fastcompany Design) and press for members who do good work (work may be submitted through the site for review).
Conferences (for both students and professionals, separate and together)
Resources for designers: learning resources, business resources (manufacturers by industry, rapid prototyping, etc), freelance tips
List of firms/specialties with members who are in those respective firms.
International outreach.
Public enlightenment (about what we do via public events/showcases)

Executive members (Pres, VP, Treas, Sec, etc)
Regional leaders (Per city/area: 2 professionals, 2 students) who lead their respective chapters

Revenue stream:
With the services the website could provide, ad revenue should be a main source
Membership fees
Event fees (including web events i.e. 15 bucks a pop for a live stream of a tutorial)


I think the main thing I’d like to see more as a student is web events such as the live streams, or discussion, work submission. I think we can tap into the professionals and raise revenue that way. Websites such as conceptart.org charge amounts like $95 for a 3 hour lesson, and that makes a lot of money. I’m sure that a sketching or 3d modeling live stream (that can be recorded and sold as a virtual DVD later on) would raise a lot of money if the pricing was right. Students gobble that stuff up.

Better networking between the schools, too.

I’d like to see what I don’t see from IDSA, WIIFMs (what’s in it for me). I want an ROI, it isn’t too much to ask.

I am, or have been, a member to several healthcare professional societies. All of them, contrary to IDSA (Industrial Designers Society of America, not Infectious Diseases Society of America where I am a member), offer accreditation and continuing education, my 2 largest WIIFMs. IMO, we are the Rodney Dangerfield of professions without accreditation, we are not held up to any standard.

But my biggest complaint is not having any CE offered by IDSA. Industrial design is perfect for me because it requires a great breadth on knowledge and not necessarily a great depth until it is required. It is what keeps me interested, learning new things. I cannot handle the repetitiveness of so many other professions. We are expected to have a very broad grasp as shown by the diverse categories on this board, any many areas of knowledge, human factors, medical regulations, lean, anthropology, etc, aren’t included. Any society I would join would have to offer CE credits so I can be kept fresh and expand into other areas. Wasn’t there a thread just a while back about the difficulties of crossing over from one area to another? It would be great if the transition from shoes to packaged goods was made more simple. CE could accomplish that.

And of course, I would never join a society that would have me as a member. :wink:

Love this and have lots of ideas. Off for Canada today but will keep thinking and post some thoughts soon. +1 Yo for starting the discussion. I think this could get very interesting.

First thing I’d like to throw out there is a reconsideration of the regional model. These days with all the web has to offer things could be better grouped. By industry, skills, experience, interest, etc. Not to say local events can’t happen but the main focus on regional chapters seems out of date to me.


I love this thread.

I’d want to see some accreditation, come with the membership or to get the membership. AIA seems to stress this and people respect architects for passing a test and all that, Engineers too. I like local informal things, and fun get together deals as well. My local AIGA chapter has fun things all the time, and people come to them. I try to do that and they tend to fall flat, and I really don’t know why. I use to host get together’s in school and had really good turn outs all the time.

When I think about IDSA National it’s like a cloud and I can see a few things in the mist, but I cannot figure out what is wrong. However I know something is not working (other then the website…). the new site is better.

It true, the IDSA wants you to put IDSA after your name, but all it means is that you paid money.

I see the need for two organizations:

  1. Design Club
    It’s all events, social mixers, networking, connecting students to potential mentors. It’s free to be a member and get on the invite list, events have a small fee for an open bar, or no fee and a cash bar. Maybe a come before a certain time and its free? Pretty much like the OLD Core77 offsite series, but all the time and all over the world.

  2. Design Illuminati
    Global virtual organization, NO in person meetings, need to pass a portfolio review to get in by an admissions board of select member volunteers that need to be nominated by the group. Private message board, online webinars, maybe a TED like conference but all virtual, all invite only… AND you get to put letters after your name (DI) or whatever.

DC is the inclusive, fun group that gets people into design, DI is the exclusive aspirational organization. DC is the dance floor, DI is the VIP room.

So let’s do it.

Can we have rings like the Freemasons?

I’m down, let’s move on it, what can I do?

I like the all-inclusive and the admitted group dynamic, as long as these two groups mix. I could see this existing in a space like google wave, realtime, online, collaborative community and then pop-up for in person meetups. The way twitter tweet-ups work right now are very casual, inclusive, organic and feel “now”

SEGD is another organization that seems to be doing things right. They have a great national conference, and smaller regional groups. But, most of the work they do is backed up by white papers, and it’s free to the public. Their recent work with ADA signage guidelines was adopted at the federal level and they helped voice the opinion of the designer to keep our world a better looking place.

DC does sound like a fun time. Would it be across all branches of the design world? I think that would be awesome because you could mix all disciplines and get a very diverse crowd together to share their knowledge. All over cocktails!

There is no try only do! I love your idea YO. I would be excited to be apart of this!

+Playing a little bit of devil’s advocate here, maybe, but this is how I felt as I was reading…

This is kind of funny, as I see Core77 Forums as serving many of the functions that are being described of the Design Club, as well as the medium that I am currently reading it in. A lot of these old organizations existed or came about to help organize and connect people because there was insufficient resources or technology to make connections and organize historically, but times have changed. Now it seems we are focused on trying to adapt the old to the new out of a sense of nostalgia (constantly trying to update IDSA’s website) rather than just embracing the new be it Core77, Behance, LinkedIn, etc or partner with these entities where it makes sense.

all this being said
I am an IDSA member and continue to be for as long as I still find it valuable, but this discussion is really getting me thinking.

I don’t think it’s practical for one organization to do it all. And it’s been pointed out that it’s hard to justify high fees when so much of this stuff is available for free. So let’s look at who does what well, and where that leaves the opportunity:

Core77 is great for:
Forums, SIGs

IDSA is great for:
Conferences & in-person networking
IDEA Awards
Student programs

TED is great for:
Free virtual conference/online lectures

DMI is great for:
Case studies & publications

LinkedIn is great for:
Posting what you’re up to

Corporate Design Foundation is great for:
Case studies

UK Design Council is great for:
Case studies

PDMA is great for:
Certification (general Product Development)
Case studies
Local events

AIGA is great for:
Catering to Experience Designers & new media

Unmet needs/opportunity for a New Design Organization:
Optional certification (like PDMA)
Pragmatic design awards
Mass-market design magazine (to replace ID)

I agree with you CG. Although I think we can all agree that IDSA needs work, I do see the value. There needs to be a boots on the ground face to face networking organization for ID. I personally think the issue is that these organizations don’t collaborate enough. I don’t think we need a new organization, but rather make the ones we have work.

What needs are not being met by existing organizations? What are the greatest challenges facing designers and PD people? That seems like the place to start.

This is the same question I was asking. I posted a question of “What would your IDSA look like?” This is what I was getting at. I think if we take the animosity and hurt feelings away and try to think of this in a business manor we can look at what is not there, what we need, what is there that is working, and how do we work to fix them. Sounds like a tall order, but it can be done.

Don’t forget about the Innovations Magazine… it was probably the most tangible thing I felt like I recieved from having a membership and really enjoyed them. Was that done away with too? it was similar DMI reviews but a more accessible.

I don’t think it’s been mentioned, but many countries have a design policy group within the government. It’s hard to say how effective they are for the needs of individual designers, but I think that’s what funds the design council (which is free) and actively promote design to small businesses. Korea has one too.

Another design org in the UK is the MCSD (Member of the Chartered Society of Designers). I think it might not offer much though

Nope, the Winter 2010 Innovation is being finished up as we speak.


I think much better business content or business guidance is a need for a revamped IDSA or a new org. This outline represents a lot of the kind of content (by no means comprehensive) that always seems lacking, yet essential. This is an example of the kind of business content I think many designers could benefit from, especially coming out of school. Does this information exist? Sure, in 60 different places, and only if you know to look. If IDSA or other could consolidate this info in a concise and easy to follow way, it would be great.

I. Good business content
a. Legal aspects of business
i. Contracts
ii. Patents
iii. IP and confidentiality
iv. Applicable Tax law
v. Labor law
vi. Liability
vii. Risk management practices
b. Common development practices
i. Consumer

  1. Six sigma
  2. QFD/TQM
  3. Stage Gates
  4. Etc
    ii. Medical
  5. FDA and ISO and impact on design practices
  6. How to talk to doctors about design
  7. Etc
    c. Working with different kinds of organizations at different levels
    i. Publicly held
    ii. Privately held
    iii. Nonprofits
    iv. Inventor/startups
    v. As a client versus inhouse
    d. Consulting basics
    i. What needs to be in a design brief
    ii. What needs to be in a proposal
    iii. How to build project budgets

Excellent list. I totally agree that much of that information does exist in dozens of locations around the interwebs and that’s why I’ve been pushing the Professional Interest Sections to see themselves more as aggregators as opposed to generators of content. Sure, some of the Section activities my actually generate new content, bit all too often it comes down to knowing where to get that information.

Also, I noticed that a lot of list actually matches up pretty closely to many of the Sections we do have. if you’re not familiar with the Professional Interest Sections, you can go here: Sections | Industrial Designers Society of America - IDSA Also, I created a guide to help explain what the Sections are and how they are supposed to plug into IDSA. That guide can be downloaded from here: http://www.idsa.org/content/content1/story-connexx

As always with a volunteer-driven organization, the challenge is finding folks willing to participate and contribute to this aggregation of content. If anyone out there is interested in helping out, please drop me a note.


Sections should be changed to Resources, or break it down at that top level to Design Resources, Business Resources, etc. As is it sounds like a subset of local chapters - the word choice, not the layout. Also, Resources content doesn’t seem to load (the individual tabs), but everything else does. I assume it is under construction?