Robert L. Peters

14 December 2003

VISUALOGUE, a resounding success…


Nagoya, Japan

The final statistics are in, and the kudos keep coming! VISUALOGUE—the 20th Congress of the International Council of Graphic Design Associations (Icograda) was the best attended event of its kind on record—truly a special event, in a remarkable city, on an historic occasion. The flood of positive comments since that memorable week supports the statistical evidence—VISUALOGUE was an unqualified success!


VISUALOGUE represented a worldwide gathering of the visual communication profession in Nagoya, Japan from 8-11 October 2003 and was attended by more than 3700 registered delegates from 49 nations. The event’s near-perfect orchestration made possible by the support of 166 companies and by some 1000 volunteers who collaborated in the event’s detailed preparation. Immediately following the Congress, delegates from member associations met for the XX Icograda General Assembly. In addition, design educators and students from across Japan met with their foreign counterparts at the Icograda Design Education Symposium/New Designers Workshop co-organized by Icograda and the International Design Center NAGOYA Inc. By week’s end, over 120,000 people had participated in the concurrent exhibits, forums, and bazaars of Nagoya’s Graphic Design Fair.

During the three-day Congress, 89 speakers gave intriguing, emotional and inspiring lectures on the theme of ‘Quality of Information.’ The speakers spanned a large range of professions including graphic designers, product designers, media designers, information architects, information scientists, historians, art directors, typographers and professors/lecturers. They explored the theme along the routes of Clarity, Creativity and Joy/Humor. Additional topics included identity, sustainability, education and IT VISUALOGUE—for which designers from around the globe contributed idiosyncratic digital narratives.

The event was a time of sensory animation, intellectual stimulation and emotional investment for all who participated. West encountered East, and East met West. 2200 students brought their youthful energy to the venue. Old and young intermixed, and the famous made friends with the soon-to-be famous. Perspectives were shared, new concepts were tested, and ideas were cross-pollinated. Nagoya truly opened its heart and its homes to the world, and in return, it became the destination for intelligent visual communicators from around the globe.

Attendees, speakers and organizers alike had positive comments to make, many on the event’s emotional facets. Erica Saca (El Salvador): “This congress was more emotional and human than technical. I learned so much more this way, because charts, commands and measures are memorized, (and easily forgotten) but real human experiences are remembered… I learned that designers around the world share similar challenges and obstacles. I finally understood that great design is not a matter of geography, it transcends frontiers.” Stefan Sagmeister (USA): ‘“I believe that graphic design that touches hearts will be all that we’ll be asked to do in five to ten years’ time.” Touching on the beauty of ‘being human,’ Neville Brody (United Kingdom): “No matter how much we try to make things come out right, something will be wrong. Nothing is as we plan it. Some of the best ideas come from mistakes.”

This was an important event for the Japanese graphic design community, and also for Icograda. John Shelley (Japan) states: “I really believe this one event has raised the profile and the respect of graphic design in Japan amongst the general public, and hopefully narrowed the gap between the younger generation of graphic designers and the more established designers. Personally the conference was a revelation to me.”

Robert L. Peters (Canada), Icograda’s president noted: “VISUALOGUE was a remarkable design Congress that will long be remembered. But in the end, it all came down to the value of conversation through ‘visual dialogue,’ furthering understanding among people (one of Icograda’s prime objectives), and the power of design to change the world for the better.” Robert spent over three years in planning, liaison and collaboration with VISUALOGUE’s Japanese organizing committee to ensure that this 20th Icograda Congress would meet the needs of the international design community as well as the needs of the graphic design profession in Japan.

The gracious hosts, dedicated organizers, generous sponsors, and tireless promoters of VISUALOGUE can take great satisfaction in their creation—an unforgettable moment in time, and for many attendees, a life-changing opportunity.


Visit the VISUALOGUE website. (A comprehensive book of congress proceedings and presentations [with introductions by Shigeo Fukuda and Robert L. Peters] is now available online).


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