Robert L. Peters

31 July 2007


International Council of Graphic Design Associations


The International Council of Graphic Design Associations (Icograda) is the world body for professional graphic design and visual communication. Founded in 1963, it is a voluntary assembly of associations concerned with graphic design, visual communication, design management, design promotion, and design education. Icograda promotes graphic designers’ vital role in society and commerce and unifies the voices of graphic designers and visual communicators worldwide. The vision, mission, and core values of the council are collectively embodied in the communication statement of “leading creatively” which is manifested through our members’ diverse activities to use design as a medium for progressive change.

As the world’s non-governmental and non-political representative and advisory body for professional graphic design and visual communication, Icograda serves the worldwide community of graphic designers and aims to:

• Raise the standards of design, professional practice and ethics

• Raise the professional status of the graphic designer

• Further the appreciation of designers’ professional achievements

• Extend design’s contribution to understanding among people

• Promote the exchange of information, views and research

• Contribute to design education – theory, practice and conduct

• Coordinate matters of professional practice and conduct

• Establish international standards and procedures

• Hold congresses, conferences, seminars and symposia

• Publish and distribute information concerned with graphic design.

Visit the Icograda website here.

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Looking Back…

I first learned about Icograda on a design jury visit to Edmonton, Alberta in the mid-1980s. One of the other jurors of The First Prairie Show (organized by the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada [GDC], Alberta Chapter) was Niko Spelbrink, a visiting designer from Amsterdam who was at that time serving as president elect of Icograda. On that trip I also met professors Walter Jungkind, founder of the Visual Communication Design program at the University of Alberta (who had served as Icograda president from 1974-1977), as well as professor Jorge Frascara, Icograda’s current president. While I didn’t realize at the time the extent to which this encounter would later influence my professional life, I was immensely impressed with the intelligence, global perspective, and sincerity these gentlemen exhibited in relation to design, and with the passion they invested in furthering their chosen field.

My next Icograda encounter was as an attendee of the 1987 World Design Congress in Amsterdam, a remarkable multi-disciplinary event (representing the “three sister” world bodies for graphic design, industrial design, and interior design/architecture respectively). The presentations were inspiring and I met some fantastic people at that event… Icograda had made a big impression on me. Although I was unable to attend the 1989 Icograda Congress in Tel Aviv, the 1991 event was slated for Montreal, and by then I was active in both the event’s publicity and programming (I helped facilitate an interactive workshhop for congress delegates).

When Judith Gregory (who had been Program Chair for Icograda Montreal 1991) stepped down as the GDC’s official Liaison, I stepped into that role for the ensuing decade. This entailed acting as the official communication link between the GDC and Icograda, and formally representing Canadian interests at the biennial General Assemblies held in conjunction with the Icograda Congresses. As well as attending the Icograda congresses, I also wrote reviews for the biennial world events held in Glasgow in 1993, Lisbon in 1995, Punta del Este (Uruguay) in 1997, and Sydney in 1999. Clearly, Icograda had become like an extended family to me.

In the spring of 1999 I was nominated for election to the Icograda board as president elect; I subsequently joined the Icograda board in this role at the Icograda General Assembly in Sydney in September of 1999… the beginning of an intense six-year leadership role with Icograda that would run until the General Assembly in Copenhagen in October, 2005. While my board role with Icograda was demanding and remarkably time-consuming (over 1000 hours per year), it provided a fantastic opportunity for learning and broadened perspectives—both professionally and personally.

I feel gratified that, during my tenure on the board, Icograda was able to regain a solid financial footing, build value and increase deliverable benefits for its member associations (after all, members are the currency of associations!), substantially grow its membership base, establish a credible online presence and information hub, create a sustainable design archive (in partnership with the University of Brighton), co-organize significant design conferences worldwide (including Korea, South Africa, the Czech Republic, Turkey, India, China, and Brazil, Japan, and Denmark, among others), enter into a formal partnership with the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID) through the creation of the International Design Alliance (IDA), and secure a permanent secretariat (along with expanded administrative staff) in Montreal. The experiences, friendships, and memories of my time on the Icograda board will remain meaningful and dear to me for the rest of my life…

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Icograda BoardMessage Editorials

During the two years that I was president of Icograda, I wrote a quarterly editorial for BoardMessage, the periodical news vehicle that went out to Icograda’s member associations. You can read those editorials in PDF form here:

Icograda BoardMessage – 12/2001

Icograda BoardMessage – 03/2002

Icograda BoardMessage – 09/2002

Icograda BoardMessage – 11/2002

Icograda BoardMessage – 12/2002

Icograda BoardMessage – 03/2003

Icograda BoardMessage – 06/2003

Icograda BoardMessage – 09/2003

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