City of Light shines!

President’s Report: The first combined workshop from SND and IFRA, which just concluded in Paris, was an amazingly rich event. The conversation focused on a familiar topic – the integration of print and online design – but the answers participants worked toward were anything but ordinary. The diverse audience aimed to push toward solutions that would help inform the skills all design professionals need moving into the future.

Because I’m committed to internationalism, this workshop was an ultimate honor to attend. It was also a unique opportunity to see how that diversity helps reveal answers that might not exist if we were not thinking so globally. It was an educational (and beautiful) workshop with an interesting combination of languages and nationalities. Seeing how other nations handle similar issues was truly revealing.

We met at Apple’s Executive Briefing Center, a sleek space with a panoramic view of the city, on May 27 and 28. The high-tech setting was the perfect backdrop for a conversation about the future. We talked a lot about how the audience sees and uses media, how the design of information reveals meaning, and how the mantra moving ahead must be about presentation for multiple platforms.

For my part, it was great to be presenting with these familiar faces from the Society: Best of Newspaper Design director Marshall Matlock, Best of Multimedia Design director Laura Ruel, Malofiej World Infographics Summit leader Javier Errea, and online guru Alberto Cairo from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

The director of SND in France, Oliver Bourgeois, was the chair of the workshop. Our very gracious and engaging host was very supportive of his colleagues from the Society’s many far-flung chapters. Oliver also works for IFRA as a director.

It was also wonderful to meet new people interested in SND. In all, we had more than 50 participants who came to learn and share.

There were vibrant Spaniards from Barcelona, such as consultant Carlos Perez de Rozas, who gave an incredibly lively presentation which was translated into English and French. There were also attendees from Germany, Greece, Italy, Croatia, Belgium, Switzerland, Romania, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and many from France. Whether we understood each other or not, we mingled and connected.

Most of the conversation was indeed about the integration of online and print. And attendees were a great mix of print and online design pros, a great cross-pollination in both language and skills. We’re planning to post some of the work we all did very soon. Stay tuned for seeing some of the cool things. Many thanks to our friend Robb Montgomery from Visual Editors, who gave a great presentation and helped many learn new skills.

One last note: The French are wonderful hosts, as you might expect.

They were generous beyond expectation. Witness this: As a surprise in appreciation of all the speakers and contributors, Olivier took us on a boat cruise on the Seine for dinner. How special was that? What a way to see the city! And again we all chatted in different languages and somehow understood each other. It felt so international! And I learned so much.

~ Gayle Grin is the president of the Society for News Design and a managing editor at The National Post. She wrote this post from Paris.