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They were there to discuss issues and visions of the design horizon in the coming decade without the usual constraints of typical conferences and symposia. Each participant began with a brief presentation on emerging philosophical, political, technological and cultural events intended to add to a pool of ideas from which the group synthesized statements about design's road ahead. Debate ranged from chaos theory to design in the age of sprawl and design strategies for the next wave of environmentalism. Cyborgs and biological models emerged repeatedly for the body, the city, and new media during the daily sessions on the deck. Evening campfires inspired more outrageous predictions, as well as old camp songs and burnt marshmallows.



Mike McCoy: Random or Sketchy?

John Kaliski: From the Outside into the Inside Out

Louise Sandhaus: A Few Thoughts

Katherine McCoy: Design, Culture and Technology


Aaron Betsky likened design to a fish, "this slippery smelly thing!" Lorraine Wild observed a "new medievalism with the designer as fabricator" and urged an examination of graphic design's core roots in an age of converging disciplines. John Kaliski built a scenario with outside strategies moving inside in all arenas from government to cities. "Globalism is outside; sustainability is inside. Theory is outside; making and craft are inside." Tim Parsey found the humble piece of paper a powerful metaphor for the persistent physicality of culture, information and objects. Jamer Hunt envisions responsive products where you "plug yourself into an extended nervous system."

"We all wanted the opportunity to think out loud and play out a hunch with insightful colleagues,"Michael McCoy said. "We were pleased when people started completing each other's sentences." Katherine McCoy continued, "Our goal was a provocative synthesis that designers could find useful in shaping their design practices." A forthcoming issue of the American Center for Design Journal will document these discussions on emerging critical issues of multidiscipinary design.

The High Ground 1997 participants were Paola Antonelli, Museum of Modern Art curator of design, New York; Aaron Betsky, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art curator of design; Chris Conley, Design Research, Chicago; Jamer Hunt, philosopher and anthropologist, University of the Arts, Philadelphia; John Kaliski, Aleks Instanbullu/John Kaliski Architects, Santa Monica; Lisa Krohn, Krab Design, Los Angeles; Nora Kyger, Illinois Institute of Technology Institute of Design, Chicago; Katherine McCoy, IIT Institute of Design faculty, Chicago; Mike McCoy, Fahnstrom/ McCoy, and IIT Institute of Design faculty, Chicago; Bill Moggridge, IDEO, San Francisco; Tim Parsey, ACCO Vice President of Design, Chicago; Chee Pearlman, ID Magazine Editor in Chief, New York; Louise Sandhaus, California Institute of the Arts new media faculty, Los Angeles; Tucker Viemeister, frogdesign Design Director, New York; Lorraine Wild, California Institute of the Arts graphic design faculty.

The first annual High Ground Design Conversation was coordinated by Katherine and Michael McCoy, with facilitation by Nora Kyger.