AIGA Medals: Oberman, Blauvelt, Sandhaus

Recipients Showcase Dedication to Design and Community

AIGA has announced the recipients of the AIGA Medal, the Steven Heller Prize for Cultural Commentary, and the AIGA Corporate Leadership Award. The recognition will take place during the AIGA Design Conference in Seattle WA, featuring an evening reception on Friday, October 21 to celebrate the awardees and raise funds for AIGA scholarships that increase diversity in the creative professions.

Since 1920, AIGA has awarded the AIGA Medal, the most distinguished honor in the profession of communication design, to individuals in recognition of their exceptional achievements to the advancement of the field of design as a respected craft, strategic advantage, and vital cultural force.

“The individuals we are awarding the AIGA Medal and the Steven Heller Prize to have dedicated their careers to education, research, and writing and have made historically significant contributions to the design profession,” said Sheharazad Fleming, co-chair of this year’s Awards Nomination Committee, and Director of Digital Design and Marketing, Office of L.A. City Mayor.

Adds Bennie F. Johnson, AIGA’s executive director: “This year’s awardees advance design through education for the public, recognition of visual culture, and expanding the craft of design. I am honored to celebrate this year’s AIGA awardees and their contributions which enable expanded conversations in the community at-large.”

AIGA Medalists

Emily Oberman (shown above): Recognized for imprinting our visual culture with her wit and great fluency of style — highly influential, she is a north star for designers in business and ubiquitous as a graphic artist in entertainment.

Andrew Satake Blauvelt: Recognized for his vast work in the field of art and design in service of the public — a steward of design history, he has redefined the traditional role of the museum in the community and made innovative cultural and educational programming accessible to all.

Louise Sandhaus: Recognized for her presence and voice in the community as an educator and author — brilliant yet accessible, her work elevates under-recognized designers through stunning publications, insightful storytelling, and an eye toward design in everyday life.

Cultural Commentary

Established in 2017, the Steven Heller Prize for Cultural Commentary celebrates critical thinking about design and the profession, and encourages development in the next generation of design voices through a variety of media. The prize winner here is Audrey Grace Bennett, recognized for her extensive career as an educator and international speaker, she is prolific in her writing and in her thinking, using her position and the power of her ideas — embedded in social justice and the future of education — to advance design theories and practices.

Corporate Leadership

Established in 1980, the AIGA Corporate Leadership Award recognizes the role of perceptive and forward-thinking organizations that have been instrumental in the advancement of design by applying the highest standards as a matter of practice and policy. This year’s recipient is Heath Ceramics, recognized for their progressive policies, corporate philosophies, and provocative notion of what beautiful and functional design is, as a women-founded, employee-owned, and community-focused business with a true vision for sustainable goods that last.

The Committee

This year’s committee members comprised diverse backgrounds and thinking in design. They are:

  • Chris Dingwall, Design Historian and Curator, Oakland University

  • Karin Fong, 2018 AIGA Medalist and Director + Designer, Imaginary Forces

  • Sheharazad Fleming (Co-Chair), Director of Digital Design and Marketing, Office of L.A. City Mayor

  • Maribeth Kradel-Weitzel (Co-Chair), Assistant Provost, Associate Professor and Program Director of MS Health Communication Design, Thomas Jefferson University

Advisors to the committee included Ashleigh Axios of Coforma and Steven Heller, Co-Chair School of Visual Arts MFA Design, The Designer As Entrepreneur Program.