Last Thursday I joined board members, 2017 Medalists, and a host of others at AIGA’s beautiful headquarters in the Woolworth Building, the landmark “Mozart of skyscrapers” at 233 Broadway. It proved to be quite a festive and rewarding evening.
With seventy chapters and over 25,000 members, AIGA is first and foremost America's professional organization for design - dedicated to advancing design as a craft, a strategic advantage, and a cultural force with significant influence across business, education and society.
The occasion was both a pre-gala reception welcoming members from across the country and the very special awarding of the inaugural Steven Heller Prize for Cultural Commentary to Anne Quito.
Everyone who knows Steven Heller, that is anyone who has any interest in design, knows him as perhaps the most prolific chronicler and champion of design and designers ever. A 1999 AIGA Medalist himself, as a journalist and commentator, Steven is an indefatigable voice for design whose written for a wide array of publications, including Print, U&lc, I.D. Magazine, Affiche, Graphis, Creation, Eye, Design, How, Oxymoron, Design Issues, Mother Jones, Speak magazine and the New York Times Book Review.
Quite appropriately, AIGA's Steven Heller Prize for Cultural Commentary spotlights a young writer who "exemplifies the tradition Steven’s prolific voice and writing have inspired—engaging writing about design and culture".
Anne is the simply extraordinary design and architecture reporter for Quartz whose demanding beat spans everything from graphic design, corporate branding, and product design to workplace design and architecture.
She earned her master’s degree in visual culture at Georgetown University and her MFA in design criticism from the School of Visual Arts. Notably, her MFA thesis on the branding of the world’s newest country, South Sudan, was featured on NPR.
Anne routinely contributes sparkling essays to a number of publications in addition to her role
as the founding director of Design Lab, an in-house design studio within an international humanitarian development organization.
After welcoming remarks from AIGA's Executive Director, Julie Anixter, and some gracious comments by Heller himself, the award presentation was made by my former colleague, and the host of Design Matters, Debbie Millman.
If you want to see what all the fuss is about I recommend you read Anne in Quartz. Here's an all too brief sampling of her wonderful work and range, including the perfect paean to a lost legend and, my personal favorite, a scathing indictment of the "hipster aesthetic" that runs rampant, like kudzu, across the country: