In September 2014, a PechaKucha Night Seattle event, Designing Leadership, was hosted in collaboration with Design in Public for their Seattle Design Festival. Over the coming weeks, we'll release adaptations from presentations given that night. Below is an introduction to the series. —ARCADE
On 14 September 2014, during the year’s Seattle Design Festival, I realized a long-held dream: to create a PechaKucha event focused on the essential role designers play as community leaders—not only as creative visionaries but also as voices of transformation and agents of change. From the physical world to digital space, from culture to community, design and leadership are inextricably linked, forming a complex, generative relationship that frames the ways in which we relate to each other and give shape to our world. The evening brought together presenters from across the design community to explore the ways in which design can lead, the ways in which design leadership has evolved, the ways in which we foster a culture of leadership within our community and the many opportunities for leading ahead, focusing on members of our community who are leading design in unique, powerful, wonderful ways.
I knew that the event would be immensely strong, and it was. We had such an incredible list of presenters: Moira Scott Payne, provost of Cornish College of the Arts; Albert Shum, partner director of design at Microsoft; Sharon Nyree Williams, managing director of the Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas; Karen Cheng, professor of visual communication design at the University of Washington; Heidi Hughes, executive director of Friends of Waterfront Seattle; Michael Nguyen, co-founder of the Revel Foundry; Valerie Green and Ben Grossman of the Nordstrom People Lab; Megan A. Gaiser, founder of Contagious Creativity; Sandy Cioffi, documentary filmmaker and teacher at Cornish College of the Arts; Lisa Picard, executive vice president and regional manager at Skanska; Rico Quirindongo, architect at DLR Group; Darrel Rhea, vice chairman of the Design Management Institute; and Barbara Swift, landscape architect and founder of Swift Company.
All of the presentations were substantive and specific. I was struck by the richness and uniqueness of the emotional landscapes that each presenter traversed as he or she emerged as a leader. I was moved by the wide range of experiences that informed each presenter’s journey. And finally, I was inspired by the critical role empathy played in these stories and ideas about leadership; it was a theme that recurred from presentation to presentation. For me, the event illuminated the diversity of experience and vision that informs Seattle’s vibrant design community. We are indeed a community of leaders, and yes, design is leading the way.