On brand | Influential polymath Debbie Millman elevates the design discipline

Debbie Millman spoke at Design Indaba 2020.

Debbie Millman’s name is synonymous with brands – she’s worked with over 200 of the world’s largest corporations, and her work for Burger King, Häagen-Dazs, 7UP, Gillette, Tropicana, Twizzlers and more is legendary. She’s also famous for having launched the first and longest-running podcast about design, Design Matters, and has authored six books, contributed illustrations to publications like The New York Times and Fast Company, and had artworks included in the Boston Biennale, the Chicago Design Museum, and more. Named one of the most influential designers working today by Graphic Design USA, she’s a creative polymath with a resumé second to none.  

But that’s not the only reason why you’ll love Millman. She’s a frank and funny speaker, engagingly open about topics that larger egos almost never touch on, like rejection and creative insecurity.

A late bloomer, she believes anything worthwhile takes time. Fascinated by how we create our own lives, and the choices we make on the way to becoming who we’re meant to be, she explores the personal side of creativity – who creates and why, and what lessons we can learn from them. 

As the host of Design Matters, she’s interviewed close to 500 artists, designers and cultural commentators, and gone on to net a slew of accolades for the podcast, including the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award in 2011, one of the best overall podcasts on Apple iTunes in 2015, and Webby Awards honours in 2018 and 2019.

Design Matters has been listed on more than 100 ‘Best Podcasts’ lists, including one of the best podcasts in the world by Business Insider. Her intimate, informal way of engaging makes people feel that anything’s possible if they’re courageous enough.  

Combining her love of design with an interest in strategy, she co-founded a Masters in Branding at the School of Visual Arts (USA) with Steven Heller in 2009, the course being the first of its kind in the country.

This one-year graduate degree looks at the power of design thinking and how creative skills can be combined with problem-solving and decision-making. In 2019, Millman was awarded a coveted AIGA medal for her contribution to the design industry. Her generosity and practical advice position her as one of the finest educators to take the stage at #DI2020. 

(Debbie Millman by John Madere)

Follow Debbie Millman’s YouTube channel here: https://bit.ly/38UKBtq.

Follow Debbie Millman on Instagram and Twitter: @debbiemillman  

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