AIGA Takes On the Big Apple

On October 17, graphic design upperclassmen ventured 14 hours by bus to visit one of the largest hubs of design in the world: New York City. On this jam-packed three day trip, students had the chance to tour some well-known design firms, visit Times Square, see AIGA headquarters, explore the Museum of Modern Art, and assess branding along 5th Avenue, among several other things. Students were shown the true meaning of branding in action. New York City contains some of the best design in existence today, and students agree that being able to experience the city taught them a lot about graphic design and the world of visual communication.

Junior Mariah Shaltry said, “New York City is the largest representation of commerce in the US, and that’s extremely apparent by just walking through its streets. Having seen so much in the way of design (architecture, signage, advertisements, store fronts, etc) all at once, it was easy to analyze and compare different methods, styles, and concepts and ultimately the effectiveness of it all.”

On the first day of the trip, students were given the chance to tour AIGA Headquarters, along with one of several well-known design studios. These studios included Pearlfisher, Pentagram, The Barbarian Group, and Louise Fili. That night, students took a stroll around what can be considered the epicenter of design and branding: Times Square. Students then had the rest of the night to venture out and discover all New York City has to offer.

Day two included a tour of the infamous Hudson Hotel, a stroll through Central Park, visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art, viewing the Guggenheim museum, a brand walk along 5th Avenue, a visit to the Apple Store, and finally, walking through Rockefeller Plaza. Senior Brandon Knap found the brand walk to be particularly intriguing.

He said, “Since we are studying experience design, I found it interesting exploring popular brands such as Apple and Nike and observing the brand experience they create for the customers. Being in New York, many of the stores we walked though were the company's flagship so the store experiences were far more extensive than you would normally find at other locations.”

The last day of the trip included a tour of the Museum of Modern Art and lunch in Soho before making the long trek back to Big Rapids. After a jam-packed and downright exhausting weekend, students finally returned to Big Rapids at 5:30am on Monday. The experience was one to remember, and students learned some valuable lessons about design and branding.

Junior Heather Wauldron said, “The trip taught me that design is at a much more global level than what we see in the tiny town of Big Rapids. Design is everywhere in the big city, from little coffee shops to the giant displays on Times Square. I’m grateful to have had the chance to witness such impactful design. It was definitely inspiring to know that one day my work could be used on such a large scale too.”