RGD's President participates in AIGA 'Back to Business: Creative Leaders at the Forefront' Panel

AIGA invited Nicola Hamilton RGD, Cat Drew from the Design Council (UK) and Jen Hughes from the National Endowment of the Arts (USA) for a conversation on resilience, adaptation and leadership and the opportunities for designers to rebuild stronger communities and economies. 


The talk was hosted by Dr. Rubens Pessanha Filho, Chief of Insights and Learning at AIGA


Click here to watch the Back to Business Panel Discussion


Below Marc Lauriault RGD shares insights from the panel discussion: 



  • The creative industry is inherently resilient because designers are curious beings who are used to pivoting and adapting as new experiences and insights emerge.
  • Designers have always been  well equipped to work remotely because a lot of our collaboration tools are digital and online. In times of change, we are able to help our client organizations shift the culture to be more resilient and move into the mindset of digital thinking.
  • Design has the ability to help communities engage and recover in an equitable way by creating experiences and infrastructure that sustains even during crisis. Resilience comes from how we design our environment.  



  • Shared knowledge helps designers to continue to grow and adapt, especially in the past year — part of the industry culture is built around talking to peers and mentors and sharing experiences and information. 
  • The design industry's ability to dive in and experiment without overthinking helped us to adapt and move forward as a community.



  • The past 18 months gave organizations and individuals the opportunity to gain clarity and focus on their goals and purpose. This has brought forth optimism for the future and a stronger mindset to take on projects more intentionally. 
  • Some designs and design processes developed during the pandemic are a way into the future — they are galvanizing communities to tackle problems and elevate marginalized voices. 
  • Design is essentially optimistic because it is all about making lives better. It starts with a hopeful vision. 


Lessons in Leadership

  • It is imperative for firm owners and businesses to sharpen their people management and organization skills to help support the health and well-being of their employees.
  • Continuing with a version of social safety nets like unemployment insurance for freelancers and contracts would lead the industry into a more sustainable and resilient future. 
  • What used to exist is probably not coming back in the way we experienced it before, and that’s an incredible opportunity for reinvention. It’s more important than ever to be nimble and open to the possibilities.