Core IDSA?

I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that I may not be the only one that is upset with how the IDSA is run when compared to other profession orientated organizations. Not only are we expected to pay heavy dues for membership, we are also expected to pay heavy entry fees into various IDSA events (National Convention being the most expensive). On top of that, the IDSA website offers nothing extraordinary and certainly nothing worth $300/year. Possibly the most positive experience IDSA provides is through their local chapters. But still, that is dependant on how well that individual chapter is run.

Now, going really far out on that limb, like most designers I log into Core77 because it offers a frequently updated blog, well participated (and run) forum, and lots of other information that applies to our profession.

So to cut it short (sorry), what would everyone’s reaction be to a core-run IDSA that would rival the current one? (hypothetical scenario obviously)

I was a memeber of the American Institutue of Architects (AIA) for 20 years in addition to being a member of the IDSA – they are all the same. The AIA has maybe 20 times the number of members as the IDSA and the membership requirments are munch more onerous and its more costly and yet they are the same.

I dumped my IDSA membership last year after 20 years. My company has always paid my dues and last year they asked what we were getting for the $300. I didn’t have a good answer so we collectively decided to cancel my membership.

The networking I had hoped to enjoy by belonging to IDSA has been provided by logging into the CORE site. It’s a lot cheaper too.

Maybe IDSA should start selling advertising on their web site or take on a sponsor (“The Microsoft - IDSA Conference”?) to help reduce the cost of membership!!

I wonder what your expectations of an organization like IDSA would be. You have mentioned forums, and blog, etc. But what else would you want/expect for your $300.

My understanding of these kinds of organizations is more lobbying power. Don’t understimate IDSA, they have put a lot of work into promoting the industry and bringing it to the public light more than most any individual could possibly achieve.

Getting front page exposure on BusinessWeek comes from lobbying and networking that our $300/yr helped make happen. This stuff doesn’t happen overnight and requires a lot of work.

Rather than suggest that Core take over IDSA, it would be my suggestion to the Core77 group (if they don’t already) to talk with IDSA to get a tighter integration.

I agree with you that IDSA should have a brand that incorporates elements of Core77 (forums, portfolio engine, etc). Could they work together and could IDSA invest in Core, etc.?

The other obvious statement is that if you are unhappy with IDSA, what can you give back? Talk to them and volunteer to start a discussion board, or a portfolio database, or???

I tend to find that a $1000 investment for the networking that is achievable through the organization is worth it if you use it correctly. But you have to be active. If you expect to pay $300 and have a torrent of contacts and other stuff come to you, I tend to think you have the wrong idea of what an organization like this is for.

Agreed. But that, and your other points WERE TRUE.

BusinessWeek doesn’t need lobbying anymore–today they profit from it: Bloomberg - Are you a robot?

Today, you’re as likely to see Core contributing to BusinessWeek than you are IDSA. And even if the IDEA awards went away, another design organization would quickly fill the void.

I can’t help but think of Geoffrey Moore’s “Crossing the Chasm.” I think design did cross the chasm in the last few years, and by definition, that means design is being consumed by a group with totally different needs. IDSA will need to re-invent to survive.

I agree, you get out what you put in. That being said, I’m not a member anymore and I still pay to attend seminars. I just couldn’t see the benefit of becoming a member when I can pay a little bit more to enjoy the same benefits. All it seemed to me was that I was having to pay upfront so I could get a discount later on. If I never went to any events because I was busy that year, I was out of luck.
Also, along the same lines of getting out what you put in, core77 offers a wide range of tools for me to utilize so that it’s much easier and enjoyable to actively participate in the design community. As mentioned above, an online forum, free portfolio database, more job postings, current design news, etc. are all offered by core free of charge. Therefore, it’s hard for me to understand why my $300 cannot be used to integrate a similar setup on the IDSA website.
I don’t think that I should be paying that much money a month so that I can volunteer to “give back”. As I understand it, IDSA is a for-profit organization (please correct me if I’m wrong), and given that, for me to voluntarily give them my money and time in exchange for their lobbying power and a free magazine 4 times a year just doesn’t make sense…

Don’t get me wrong, my comments were not (necesssarily) defending IDSA. More than anything, pointing out that the membership fee isn’t necessarily going towards nothing. It is serving a purpose. One that, as a designer, you have to gauge whether or not it makes sense or not to be supporting a lobbying group.

Without a group like IDSA, there is no power to lobby governments to provide tax credits to designers (not that they exist, but it would be an entity like IDSA to lobby for such thing).

There is no doubt that IDSA, like any other organization, must change with the times. If you simply pull out, without contributing, even an email to the board, you aren’t helping out. At the very least, leave with a parting shot letting them know WHY you have left. What the could have done to retain your membership.

For me, I simply couldn’t afford it for the past couple of years. Now, I am seriously reconsidering joining.

I go back and forth on it. I think it would be cool if the IDSA scaled back their website, since it is uneccesary, and just paid core77 to run the online bits and the cooler events. I doubt they have the ability to build a better portfolio/job site or run a better blog, or design firm directory, or school directory (with links to portfolios)…

The local chapters mentioned above are run by volunteers on a shoe string budget (they get about $20 per member from national per year). Being involved with CT chapter, and having friends that dedicate their time here in Oregon, I can tell you it is largely thankless and like pushing a rope most days. It only works in rare cases and not on a consistant level in those locations. I have a lot of respect for the people that try to get their local chapters running, it is a lot of effort, and a real pain in the but, but it is also where the most tangabile member benefits are.

I’m not sure what the IDSA focuses its time on (it can’t be Innovation magazine, or the Perspectives newsletter, that is for sure) but I hope they spend it on research and promoting the feild (not just promoting Tucker V). A large scale education platform geared toward CEOs on why their organization should have a VP or at least Director of Design that runs an independant internal design group, that does NOT report to marketing or engineering, would be worth the dues.

… and trying to get people to put IDSA after their name only hurts the cause…

i generally agree with the sentiments in this thread. the one thing i would add is that my disinterest in IDSA started in college. it was boring and really only useful for occassional free pizza.

i understand that local chapters are run on very tight if not non existant budgets. but first impressions go along way. i think it might be in the IDSA’s best interest to devote some attention to university and local chapters.

it might help create a good first impression on young designers so they aren’t jaded and disinterested by the time they get out of school.

I think the problem with most professional organizations is they cater to a stereotype of each profession. In the case of industrial designers, I’ve met button-downed designers as well as more bohemian types. I think organizations seeking to attract creative types need to lean towards the “open collar” end of the spectrum.

Just look at the two web sites (IDSA & Core77). Judging by the look-n-feel and content, the IDSA site looks like a division of Microsoft. On the other hand Core77 feels more like a bunch of beer drinking designers telling tales out of school. Now who do you want to hang out with?

People gravitate towards their comfort zone. That’s why I’m here and my company has an extra $300 in their coffers.

Just one man’s opinion.

Comparing IDSA and Core is like comparing Ricky Gervais to Borat. They serve a similar functions but in completely different ways. I happen to like both.

Core is great for staying in touch, and for quick street-level information and of course blogging.

IDSA is for me a different kind of networking. Yes, it’s institutional, and has the usual burocratic issues any non profit organization has. (note NON profit, josht). But the local and national events provide for a deeper form or networking and pier-discussion, which I find a lot more rewarding. The virtulality of the blog keeps discussions and ‘friendships’ at a very shallow level.

Being a member of the IDSA has helped both me and my company. Personal connections that I’ve made through attending (or running) IDSA events have indirectly lead to projects, collaborations, and I’ve been able to discuss and begin long-term strategies based upon conversations and help I’ve had from piers.

Both IDSA and Core are only as much value as you put into it. -Sorry for the cliche, but it’s true.

However, the IDSA does have a lot of issues to sort out. It’s not an easy beast to tame though: They operate at a wide range of levels -local chapters, specialist sections (see them at the Housewares and CES), student chapters, district conferences, and the national conference. They also represent US design internationally, they run awards, scholarships, publish books, a foundation, hold summit-like ideation sessions, etc, etc.

As far as I know, no other country has an independent ID organization that is as effective as the IDSA (Even in Germany where ID is more established, the VDID is a poor comparison.)

Core 77 is also pioneering new ground and is extremely effective at what it does. But it provides a whole different type of interaction -quicker and ‘less stodgy’ but shallower.


word up…

there were a few events that i remember favorably, but generally from a students point-of-view, there was not much interest or obvious value to attending meetings. so now even though i have an idsa membership; i have little interest in using it nor do i know what i could do with it if i did…

“now even though i have an idsa membership; i have little interest in using it nor do i know what i could do with it if i did…”

Maybe this is the problem?? I always hear about how great IDSA is “as long as you put effort in”. But honestly, aside from attending meetings, paying my dues, paying to get into shows, etc., I have no clue how or what else I could do to “put back in”. So I’m left with confusion as to why I just paid money for something I could’ve gotten without a membership. Maybe this is something IDSA should look into educating their members about??
I also like the point of Core77 and IDSA teaming up. Granted it’d be quite the pairing of personalities, but I think both could benefit greatly from each other’s expertise and boost the design community at the same time.

But honestly, aside from attending meetings, paying my dues, paying to get into shows, etc., I have no clue how or what else I could do to “put back in”.

What more do you want? So far, I have heard IDSA needs forums, and blogs and maybe meetings with pizza? PaulH put it extremely well. IDSA, or any other organization is NOT about instant gratification. I want this, I want that, and I want it now. I want to SEE where my money is going.

C’mon. There’s a point where if you decide that all of the “bureaucratic crap” that PaulH refers to is all too institutional, than by all means I agree that IDSA is not for you.

Maybe the long and short of it is that IDSA is for the entrepreneurial minded designers. Those that are running businesses. Those that are trying to sell their wares. Those that aren’t just thinking about how to spend the next paycheque.

If you want more out of IDSA and PaulH’s contribution to this discussion doesn’t make you drool with anticipation thinking the next function I go to is going to land that next big job/opportunity, then I don’t get what you are complaining about.

Simply put…What, specifically, do you want from IDSA? Formalize your ideas/thoughts. Send an email to the board and see if you get a reaction. Go to the next function and corner the people in charge and let them know you want more, and state how and why.

If you are wondering what more you can do, email the board and tell them you are needing more from IDSA, but don’t know what you can do. I am sure they could find something for you to contribute towards.

CG Said:

BusinessWeek doesn’t need lobbying anymore–today they profit from it: > Bloomberg - Are you a robot? >

Methinks lobbying doesn’t stop with Business week.

Idsa vs core77

idsa website is very dull and the information is stall
core 77 always updating info…
core 77 better at finding contact information
idsa & chapters are better at live events and networking with people
core77 has a greater disconnect between designer and design companies
core77 is great at connecting designer with designer with forum and portfolio

they both have their strength and weakness in my eyes…
it would be interesting for them to merge into this big mess …

Two of IDSA’s biggest failures ended-up being developed by Core - the portfolio & blogging sites. I’ve leveraged both of those for career advancement & networking. IDSA missed this huge opportunity to drive traffic to their web site and pump-up their memberships. Both would be a pretty compelling reason for designers to join and stay with IDSA. If they decide to copy these in the future it will look like they’re knocking-off Core (unless they greatly improve the quality of the experience- which will be tough).

Competition tends to breed excellence. It’s good to see a professional organization get some competition so they don’t become fat and bloated. It becomes a wake-up call to provide more value to their membership.

I also like the point of Core77 and IDSA teaming up

Agreed. That would be a good combo. No-one would defend IDSA’s website being anything less than a jungle, which Core could surely help out with. And Core’s effort at live events need the experienced (volunteer-driven) touch of the IDSA. I’m sure there would be many other ways they could benefit from each other’s skill-sets too.

Do you think that would dilute the coolness of Core? Or possibly hamper the respectability of IDSA as a professional body?

Send an email to the board and see if you get a reaction. Go to the next function and corner the people in charge and let them know you want more, and state how and why.

Well put, ip_wirelessly.
And to help people through the IDSA website jungle, here’s the page with the email addresses of the board:

…and of the local chapters:

and of the specialist sections (most people don’t even know they exist…!)

this discussion is interesting. I dig IDSA. I love Core. I have to say the best thing going for idsa right now are the podcasts…though the “director of communication for IDSA” sounds disinterested, disconnected and a bit snooty…almost like he isn’t listening to the person talking. as far as idsa, I haven’t renewed my membership for awhile now. I should do that. Everyone should.

Of note IDSA has done one hell of a job making ID a mainstream thing…seriously it is much different now than even 5 years ago. If you wonder what that gets you?? gets you jobs, it provides creative license and trust, it provides strategic opportunities within companies that might otherwise reward other skillsets not design. It is bigger than the goofing off or debating or networking here at core.
that said, IDSA needs some work. our profession is about generating value and it seems a lot of people don’t perceive much value out of idsa. that is sad.
core is where it is at.
if I could get a core77 membership bracelet I would wear it daily…or dogtags please please!

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m the new President of IDSA and I’m one of the moderators for the Design in Asia forum on Core77. I’m active in both arenas because I find value in both. To me, Core77 and IDSA are very different entities that serve different purposes and appeal to different needs.

FWIW, IDSA is a 501 c(6) non profit organization.

I agree with a lot of what’s been written not just in this discussion, but in others as well. There are things that IDSA does that could certainly be better. Improvement is always an option. It’s very important to realize that IDSA relies heavily on volunteer effort at every level of the organization. I have a full time job running a consulting firm in Atlanta. The time I spend participating in IDSA activities and representing IDSA is time not spent working for my clients, building my business or focusing on my family life. My ongoing 7-year kitchen renovation is a testament to that. It takes a LOT of energy, enthusiasm and effort to run a successful Chapter and provide dynamic events and meaningful content, particularly at the local level. It’s also a fairly thankless task, which is unfortunate because the people who put forth the effort do so for the entire design community and they do it because they have passion for design.

There are a lot of things that IDSA does that happen quietly and without a lot of fan fare. Often, these things simply can’t be duplicated by Core77. The infrastructure, global connections and gravitas just isn’t there. On Core77, we are primarily designers talking to designers. At IDSA, we are designers talking to each other and to the business community, government entities and the education community. Here are a few things to think about off the top of my head:

The Okala Ecological Design Curriculum: The Eco-Design Section and the IDSA staff wrote a grant proposal and received $92,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency to develop a curriculum on sustainable design. Volunteers (Philip White, Steve Belletire & Louise St. Pierre) worked tirelessly to make this happen. The result is amazing – and free for you to download ( ) More than 40 design programs across the U.S. and Canada are now using this curriculum. This means a better education for our students, more environmental awareness and knowledge of proven, sustainable ideas for material selection and manufacturing processes. The curriculum is a living entity as well. Even though it’s only a couple of years old, it’s already being updated to match the new EPA standards. As designers, we all benefit from this. Our economy and our environment benefit as well.

The Eco-Design Section also maintains a list of tools for practicing professionals:

Legal Protection: The Design Protection Section of IDSA serves as the silent guardian of intellectual property rights and design patent litigation in the U.S. They continually monitor cases before the courts in the US and they routinely file third-party, friend of the court Amicus Curiae briefs on behalf of IDSA in order to maintain the legal protections that we need as designers. IDSA pays for the filing fees and supports this initiative. Again, we all benefit.

IDSA provides annual scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students.

The relationship IDSA has fostered over the last 19 years with BusinessWeek has arguably been the single most influential thing to happen to industrial design in my lifetime (I’m under 40). It opened the door to the business community and gave industrial design a credible voice in the Boardroom. It has allowed us to celebrate design success (IDEA, Designs of the Decade, The Design & Business Catalyst Awards, Making Innovation Work podcast series, etc.) in a very public way with the audience that employs us and comprises our client base. This relationship has made business aware of design and the value of design in ways never imagined previously. It’s one of the reasons our profession has grown so rapidly over the last 20 years. It’s also one of the reasons that designers are more and more frequently achieving vice-president and board level positions in the corporate world. We still have a long way to go, but the journey is getting easier every day. IDSA very actively fosters this relationship and other media relationships, diligently looking for opportunities to highlight design and spread the message about our role in the innovation economy.

IDSA communicates with government agencies – foreign and domestic – looking for information about design and contacts in the design community.

IDSA maintains relationships globally that provide business networking, advocacy and speaking opportunities for our members. Recent examples include Business of Design Week in Hong Kong, the design conference in Wuxi in November and the joint event held yesterday at the Swedish Embassy in Washington, D.C.

The Connecting 07 Congress, jointly sponsored by IDSA and ICSID, in San Francisco this fall will bring designers from across the globe to meet and participate in a global dialogue on design. The last time (1985) a world design congress was held in the US, the attendance was over 2,000. This year’s congress may well attract as many as 3,000 attendees.

IDSA and Core already collaborate on several things including portfolio reviews at every IDSA conference – regional and national. We are always looking for new opportunities to work together that will benefit the overall design community. It’s a good relationship. Many, many IDSA members are active on Core as participants in the discussions, as content contributors and as moderators. In many ways, we’re the same community, but like I said in the beginning, we serve different purposes.

For virtual community and the pulse of what’s happening – particularly with younger designers, Core’s the place to be. For integration with the business community and professional networking, IDSA is the place to be.