We Are Evolving

Jan 8 2019 - 9:05am


IDSA has embarked on a bold and progressive transformation. We stand at a moment in time where nearly every aspect of the Society is under increasing pressure for time and attention from people like you. While these trends are certainly not new, the way in which IDSA must respond to them is. This position demands that IDSA think critically and creatively about how we deliver a meaningful membership experience to you as a member, as well as for our extended community of designers across the country.


“Providing relevant programming is an essential part in establishing a long-lasting membership value that keeps pace with the evolving needs of our community.” 

—  IDSA Executive Director, Chris Livaudais


The redesign of the International Design Conference (IDC) 2018 in New Orleans was the first step and realization of IDSA's new future vision. It marked a decisive shift in IDSA’s approach to events and represented a new type of experience for IDSA gatherings. For 2019, our team is setting our sights on IDSA’s smaller, regional events by exploring how they must mature into their next phase of existence. The District Design Conferences (DDCs) have been a mainstay in IDSA's event portfolio and have morphed considerably over the years, yet we know that they can be so much more. Next year, we will take some time to focus on developing a new event series, and as a result, we will not host DDCs in 2019. Don’t worry, there will still be plenty of opportunities to connect with designers in your local area. Our chapters and academic communities regularly host events and get-togethers throughout the year which are crucial to keeping you connected to other designers in your region.



Looking down the road, IDSA seeks to leverage our resources in ways that best yield otherwise unattainable event experiences. One example of this is the IDSA Chicago Chapter’s recent Women & Design event. Over 125 attendees from across the country gathered in Chicago's thriving West Loop for a day-long exchange. This type of program is proof that the future of IDSA events is in the creation of occasions where diverse groups of students, educators and practitioners can share in ID-relevant content built around skills, industry affiliation and professional development. By strengthening our chapter’s ability to produce content-rich events, we can further ensure that you have more opportunities to connect and engage with the design community in your area.

We are also preparing some evolutionary updates to our Undergraduate Student Merit Award (SMA) program. Last year, IDSA successfully launched the Graduate Student Merit Award (GSMA) competition. The GSMA competition was based on the undergraduate SMA competition but with one significant difference; the submissions and judging took place virtually. Following this successful pilot, we are thrilled to launch the Undergraduate SMAs as an online competition. Having both merit awards programs operate online will enable several key advancements. Most notably, it will bring much needed standardization to the overall process.



The first round of the SMAs will stay the same as it has been in previous years. Schools with an active IDSA Student Chapter are encouraged to identify and present a candidate into the SMA program as their SMA Finalist. This individual, a graduating senior, is someone with tremendous talent, breadth of skill and who best embodies the ID program they represent. SMA Finalists will upload their project work (written responses, videos, project portfolios, etc.) for review by a curated panel of judges to be evaluated against peers from other schools in their district. As is tradition, one Student Merit Award winner will be selected from each district. SMA and GSMA winners will be invited to present and participate at the upcoming International Design Conference in Chicago, IL. The new Undergraduate SMA program will begin in early 2019. Stay tuned for more details in the coming weeks.

Year over year, we aim to continually deliver an exceptional membership experience that advances careers and connects our community. Providing relevant programming is an essential task in this mission and is necessary for establishing a long-lasting membership value that keeps pace with the evolving needs of our community. Our entire team at IDSA headquarters and our vast volunteer network are working relentlessly towards this pursuit. We are grateful for the opportunity to embark on this journey together, and we are deeply enthusiastic about what lies ahead!