Activating NYCxDesign

Posted June 13, 2013

The branding shop Base designed the NYCxDesign identity, one of the many agencies that came together to make the design week happen.
The branding shop Base designed the NYCxDesign identity, one of the many agencies that came together to make the design week happen.

This May, the spotlight was on design with the launch of NYCxDesign, the first inaugural citywide festival to showcase and promote all design disciplines in all five boroughs. During the event, the city was home to more than 200 design events at 127 different locations, showcasing New York’s unmatched assets in design and raising the profile of one of the most important, but underappreciated, parts of the city’s economy.

The festival was the brainchild of urban think-tank, Center for an Urban Future, who first proposed the idea in their 2011 report, Growth By Design, which described the economic impact of NYC’s 40,000-designer strong community and steps that could be taken to accelerate its impact from training design students to be entrepreneurs through business incubators to helping established firms export services and connect with international market opportunities.

Our enlightened council speaker and mayoral candidate Christine C. Quinn gave the idea life by assigning a group of amazing doers within the council and NYC&Co, supported by a robust steering committee of 30 design leaders. Ed Schlossberg and I had the honor of representing ESI and the nonprofit we co-founded, desigNYC, on the committee. In this advisory capacity we proposed several ideas that would expand the traditional marketing campaign to be more participatory with the broader design community — including the NYCxDesign iPhone App, which we quickly designed and protoyped pro bono with the kind assistance of Willy Wong of NYC&Co, Pensycola LLC and Shaun Terry.

The NYCxDesign App invites residents and visitors from around the globe to join in a citywide conversation by sharing examples of good design throughout NYC. The interface prompts users to take photos using their iPhone that answer the prompt “Good Design Is…” The app then integrates the iconic NYCxDesign “X” identity with the photo and allows users to share their creations with the world through Twitter and Facebook using the NYCxDesign hashtag “#NYCxD”.  Whether they are inspired by the ubiquitous coffee cup, the indomitable Empire State, a fabulous lamp, or a stroll along the High Line — X marks the shot for good design. Together the contributions spark ongoing conversations, celebrating the collaborative documentation of good design throughout the city.

Due to some developer constraints, the app sadly launched on the last day of the festival — too late to gain momentum — so we hope that it will become an evergreen campaign that can be used in the months in between and for next year’s festival.

While NYCxDesign was amazingly successful for a first run, international festival put together on a shoestring budget in under 8 months, it presents incredible opportunity to increase the profile of design and its impact as not only an economic engine, but also transformational change agent. We look forward to helping the organizers expand the horizons of the event in the future to actively increase collaboration between design disciplines and demonstrate the value of design in action to the general public as we have done for the last four years with desigNYC.

Special thanks and congratulations to Willy Wong and Ed Hogikyan of NYC&Co and Katie Cody, Danielle Porcaro and Hunter Goldman of New York City Council for their leadership and herculean efforts in getting year one off the ground! Thank you for including us in the fun and looking forward to NYCxDesign 2014.

Michelle Mullineaux

Michelle is an experienced strategist, marketer, business developer and change agent. She joined ESI in 2004 and is charged with building and implementing successful business development and marketing strategies for the firm. She also serves on the Leadership Team, which guides and supports ESI’s strategic growth across all disciplines and functions.

Michelle is recognized as an expert and leading advocate for public interest design, an evolving practice area that operates at the intersection of design, service, sustainability and social impact. She is one of the co-founders and an active board member of desigNYC, a nonprofit with the mission of improving the lives of New Yorkers through the power of good design. She is featured in the Public Interest 100, sponsored by Autodesk, and served on both the Steering and Community Development Committees for NYCxDesign, New York’s inaugural citywide festival celebrating and promoting design of all disciplines. Prior to joining ESI, she held business development, marketing and new media strategy roles for METROPOLIS Magazine, Acoustiguide, and Christie’s. Michelle holds an MBA in Sustainable Management from the Presidio Graduate School and BS/BA degrees in Journalism and Art History from Boston University.

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