This is the era of design archives. More of them are emerging, particularly as Baby Boomer and Gen X designers are reaching periods of divestiture in their lives. Some of the best archives are at SVA NYC (Milton Glaser Study Center), Cooper Union (Herb Lubalin Study Center), Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) (where the Vignelli collection and more is housed) and Yale University (where Paul Rand’s archive is housed), but there are many more, including the AIGA under the direction of Heather Strelecki.
I recently had the opportunity to speak to Heather for a burgeoning oral history project to accompany the documents. The materials are accessible, and AIGA invites scholars and interested parties to visit the facility.
Information about the archives and special collections can be found at http://www.aiga.org/design-archives-info. More than 1,500 unique items are housed in this archive. The bulk of the collection consists of printed records created by and/or for AIGA, including:
Exhibition catalogues and design annuals documenting the selections from AIGA competitions since 1915 (book design to commercial graphics, to TV commercials and print advertisements);
Newsletters and journals published since 1922 (the story of AIGA can be read in these boxes);
AIGA conference materials produced since 1985 (registration posters, postcards, programs).Exhibition catalogues and some special collections have been digitized and made available and searchable online at AIGA Design Archives http://designarchives.aiga.org/#/home. AIGA does not house the physical artifacts from its suite of competitions onsite. Most of the items, dating back to 1980, are part of the collection at the. Many of the books are part of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University’s Butler Library.
About Steven Heller
Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →