Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Defining the Music Designer of 2015

Earlier in 2008, AIGA, 'the oldest and largest membership association for design professionals', in partnership with ADOBE, presented the results of a broad Industry survey. In the preamble representatives of the organization note:

"For several years it has been apparent that design studios and corporate departments have been looking for a new kind of designer, one that has traditional skills and yet a much broader perspective on problem solving."

Richard Grefé
, Executive Director of AIGA, writes (in a related article: 2015: A Design Odyssey):

"Although no one can predict the future, we must prepare for it. Knowing that there are tectonic shifts occurring in the sociological, technological and geographical environments in which designers create their paths, we can begin to formulate a picture. In even the near term, just eight years from now, what will the profession look like—and how do we equip the next protégés and ourselves for this experience? More specifically, who will be the designers of 2015?"

The initial results of this exercise, represents the distilled opinion of 2,500 selected AIGA members. What follows is thirteen core competencies "that will be needed, in various combinations, by tomorrow’s designer".

Of course, Commercial Sound Artists are designers, too.


Therefore, I thought it would be interesting to reproduce the AIGA/ADOBE recommendations here on the Critical Noise Aural Intelligence Blog. As you read the quoted text below, consider how these recommendations might be applied to our own craft as Audio Designers (be it producer, composer, sound designer, DJ, guitar god with stomp box, etc).


1. Ability to create and develop visual response to communication problems, including understanding of hierarchy, typography, aesthetics, composition and construction of meaningful images†

2. Ability to solve communication problems including identifying the problem, researching, analysis, solution generating, prototyping, user testing and outcome evaluation

3. Broad understanding of issues related to the cognitive, social, cultural, technological and economic contexts for design

4. Ability to respond to audience contexts recognizing physical, cognitive, cultural and social human factors that shape design decisions

5. Understanding of and ability to utilize tools and technology

6. Ability to be flexible, nimble and dynamic in practice

7. Management and communication skills necessary to function productively in large interdisciplinary teams and “flat” organizational structures

8. Understanding of how systems behave and aspects that contribute to sustainable products, strategies and practices

9. Ability to construct verbal arguments for solutions that address diverse users/audiences; lifespan issues; and business/organizational operations

10. Ability to work in a global environment with understanding of cultural preservation

11. Ability to collaborate productively in large interdisciplinary teams

12. Understanding of ethics in practice

13. Understanding of nested items including cause and effect; ability to develop project evaluation criteria that account for audience and context

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In the comments to the original AIGA post, a Zach Bruno replies via the comments (Wed Aug 13, 2008) with this interesting offering:

"...To me, a true 'Designer' with a capital D is quite simply, a director of change, since that is what we do. We /alter/clarify/define things."

How might composers, producers and other 'Music Designers' present ourselves as directors (or agents) of change?

No doubt it is often in our domain to "alter/clarify/define things".

* * *

† Also, regarding recommendation #1, I might change three words (to suit the purposes of a Music Designer). Instead of 'visual', I would of course say 'aural'. Instead of 'typography' I might substitute 'memes'. And instead of 'images' I might suggest 'soundscapes', so that the final version reads:

1. Ability to create and develop aural response to communication problems, including understanding of hierarchy, memes, aesthetics, composition and construction of meaningful soundscapes.

What do you think? Comments welcome!

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To read the article in its original form, visit: AIGA Designer of 2015 Competencies

* * *

Click on any link below to read all the articles in the four-part August 2008 MUSIC DESIGN 2015 series exploring the similarities between Modern Audio Production and Graphic Design:

Part 1: Defining the Music Designer of 2015
Part 2: Six Trends Shaping the Music Designer of 2015
Part 3: Music By Design
Part 4: 10 Rules for Branded Audio Logo Design

Like this topic? Related Articles from the Critical Noise Archive:

It's a Cut and Paste World (October 07, 2007)
Six Requirements for Sonic Logos (August 10, 2007)
When Marketers HEAR Double (December 01, 2006)

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