By August 2, 2017 Read More →

DesignView – Design a la MO.DE

by Lee Davis, Founder, Modesto Design Collective (MO.DE)

Modesto design à la MO.DE
“Design creates culture. Culture shapes values. Values determine the future.” Stephanie Gallo, Vice President of Marketing at E&J Gallo Winery, quoted renowned Canadian designer, Robert L. Peters, in welcoming the more than 150 Modesto-area designers who gathered at Gallo for the inaugural Modesto Design Collective (MO.DE) on June 27th. This was the first and likely the largest such gathering of designers in Modesto’s history.

Designers of all types – architects, fashion, graphic, interior, product, and UX/UI designers, students and other design allies – came together to socialize and network, to celebrate the rich history of design in Modesto, and to share ideas to elevate and support our local design community. The event affirmed the valuable role designers play in society. Designers are creative problem solvers and the process of design (often referred to as “design thinking” or “human-centered design”) can result in innovation across all sectors of society. “We need the creativity and innovative thinking of designers to address critical social problems in our community,” said Marian Kaanon, President and CEO of the Stanislaus Community Foundation. “Cities from Austin to Portland to Salt Lake City are thriving in large part thanks to burgeoning design communities that are making, creating and innovating in all areas.”

The gathering was an opportunity to evolve a collective vision for MO.DE going forward. The MO.DE brand, designed by the talented local designer Eric Le, was unveiled, as was a mission statement: “The Modesto Design Collective (MO.DE) is a community of designers, innovators, makers, and creative visionaries. We are committed to making Modesto a vibrant design capital that values, celebrates and supports design and the broader creative community.”

The 170 designers who registered for the MO.DE event were asked the simple question “What do you think makes a city a vibrant design capital? What would you like to see in Modesto/Stanislaus that would support you in your creative practice?” Their many ideas shaped the strategy of MO.DE going forward. The Collective is committed to building:

• creative community: At the heart of a vibrant design capital is a vibrant community of designers (and other creatives) who are connected, encouraged, supported, and valued;
• creative confidence: We need to elevate the profile of design and design’s value in the community. To become a vibrant design capital we have to believe that we can be one. We need to look back to uncover and celebrate our rich design history and heritage. And we need to look forward with our community of designers helping us to imagine an inspiring future vision for our city;
• creative capacity: We need to attract, retain and support local design talent and provide educational and professional opportunities for them to excel in their creative practice. We need designers in bring creative problem-solving and innovation into all sectors of the community (e.g., agriculture, business, education, government, and social sectors). And we need to create a buzzing, physical space where designers can convene, connect and collaborate.

In 1919, a small group of designers gathered in Weimer, Germany, a city with a population today of under 70,000. Together they created the Bauhaus, the most influential modern design movement. By 2019, with a population in Modesto of nearly three times as many and a growing community of designers, why can’t we become the design capital of the next century?



About the Author:

Lee Davis currently divides his time between California and Baltimore, Maryland, where he is the Co-Director of the Center for Social Design and Faculty in the MA in Social Design at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). Prior to MICA, Lee was co-Founder and served for 16 years as co-CEO and Chief Innovation Officer of NESsT, an incubator for social enterprise start-ups in emerging markets. Lee is Co-Chair of the Board of the Winterhouse Institute, dedicated to advancing social design education, and is a Social Enterprise Fellow at the Yale School of Management. He has worked for corporate design firms in the USA and Japan, and was the first in-house designer for CARE, the international aid and development organization. He holds a BA from Connecticut College and an MA in Public Policy from the Johns Hopkins University. Originally from New York but now a proud Californian, Lee has called Stanislaus County home for the last 15 years. He currently lives in Modesto with his Brazilian partner Daniel, a composer, conductor, and professor of music. Lee is currently working on establishing the Modesto Design School as well as a book and exhibition on the history and heritage of design, innovation and invention in Modesto.