RGD's Top 10

The Future Designer

by RGD

February 14, 2017

Leaders in workplace innovation, content strategy, branding and communication discuss the changing roles, opportunities and challenges facing the future designer in RGD’s latest Future By Design panel 



Designers gathered at screening venues across Canada on January 31, 2017 to participate in the Association of Registered Graphic Designers (RGD)’s panel discussion on “The Future Designer” with Margot Bloomstein, principal at Appropriate Inc., Matteo Bologna, founding partner and principal at Mucca Design, and YuJune Park, director of BFA Communication Design Program at Parsons School of Design. Duane Bray, partner and global head of talent at IDEO New York, moderated the discussion.



Bloomstein began the discussion with a presentation highlighting three key areas of focus for designers—being a voice for diversity, standing up for sustainability and advocating for empathy. Bologna expressed his hope that type (and humour) would continue to be an important element in the design industry of the future, and YuJune Park answered the question, “what do you learn in design school?” and how it prepares students for what comes next.


Here are their top 10 insights on what it means to be a designer today, and what it will mean in the future:


1. “To say someone ‘gets it’ or ‘doesn’t get it’ shows that we’re not empathizing or understanding our client’s vocabulary or education level. If they’re coming to us with a problem, they trust that we have specialized expertise, and it’s up to us to provide support. Figure out how you can be a force for empathy by showing up, listening, and asking why.” Margot Bloomstein


2. “The client-designer relationship is changing rapidly. Designers need to address the question behind the question: ‘who is your audience’, and beyond that, ‘who are you as a designer’ and ‘how does your work live in the world?’” YuJune Park


3. “Pokemon go is a f---ing amazing thing. It is a technology that is mind-blowing, but used for such a simple thing – just playing. I’m fascinated by people who take new technology and new ideas and make it something for everyone. It would be great if it was for something a little deeper than just a video game.” Matteo Bologna


4. “Our goal is to help facilitate communication, which starts by understanding the message, the people trying to send it, and the needs and constraints of their audience. If we don’t understand the topic, the speaker and the receiver, we can’t do a good job of bridging that gap. It is unethical to try and design communication without understanding the whole picture.” Margot Bloomstein


5. “People ask why we’re teaching code to design students. It’s about understanding the tools we use – if you don’t, it can be hard to innovate and influence how they affect what you create. It’s good to unpack the visual language and understand where the technology came from, because these are the things that influence how we visualize the world.” YuJune Park


6. “Everything is a template now. As designers, we deal with things that have already been designed for us. Everything is already done, beautifully made, and we just accept it, often without any criticism. And that’s okay. We don’t have to reinvent things. This frees us up to connect with our emotions and produce work that AI cannot.” Matteo Bologna

7. “There seems to be a growing interest in deeper research. People are seeing the value in detail, and that affects how we layer information online and offline. As designers we have to stay true to the key message, and offer ways to navigate through the information to find meaning” Margot Bloomstein


8. “Above all, the skill we want to teach out students is to learn how to learn. The concrete skills of today likely won’t exist in ten years – students should be constantly curious, they should have an understanding of the work that’s come before them, what comes after, the context in which they’re making work and the history of design. To stay curious and critical is the most important thing.” YuJune Park


9. “Our job is to facilitate the path from A to B. The user/customer/client/guest needs to go from one point to another, not in the fastest way, but in the most interesting way. As designers we can do this by adding politics, adding humour, adding beliefs – our presence in this path is important.” Matteo Bologna


10. “Being a curious and aware maker is the first step to shaping the future of our industry. Not just staying on top of the latest technology, but really understanding why these tools make form the way that looks the way it does, in a technological and cultural context. We need to be designing with our heart and minds open.” YuJune Park


For more discussion from "Future By Design: The Future Designer," search the hashtag #rgdFBD on Twitter. Click here to find out more about hosting a discussion group in your city.


Future By Design: The Future Designer from RGD on Vimeo


The Association of Registered Graphic Designers (RGD) promotes professional standards in the graphic design industry and authors a Top 10 list on the Applied Arts website.


Leave a Comment

* required field

Name: *

Optional URL: (include http://)

Comment: *

Verification: 3 + 5 = *

NOTE: Comments are moderated and should appear on the site shortly, pending approval.


Are you a designer, ad exec, copywriter, illustrator, interactive designer, or photographer with a flair for the written word? We're always looking for guest columnists and contributors on theĀ Applied Arts website! Email editorial[at]appliedartsmag.com to introduce yourself.