On a chilly, grey morning, hundreds of flannel-clad designers flocked to Madden’s Resort on Gull Lake in Brainerd, Minnesota. The venue, befitting the ultimate northern cabin getaway experience, would provide the very Minnesotan backdrop to AIGA’s Design Camp.
Every year AIGA Minnesota hosts Design Camp, a unique conference that draws designers from around the nation away from their cubicles and into the great outdoors for a weekend retreat filled with presentations and workshops from premier thinkers, speakers, and design icons.
While a herd of laptop-toting designers would typically seem out of place in the deep woods, Design Camp has created a surprising harmony and gained notoriety throughout the industry, establishing northern Minnesota as an unsuspecting design destination.
Designers find their true north
As the first morning of Design Camp began and the giant coffee urns began to run dry, designers filed into the main hall for the opening keynote from David Hartman, Senior Creative Director at Target Brand Design Lab.
David openly shared his unique personal and career journey, with an honest accounting of the struggles he faced along the way, accompanied by sage advice that could only be provided by someone who had overcome those challenges.
During the followup live interview conducted by Brent Stickels, Co-founder and Partner at YYES agency, David further revealed to the audience how the “real you” and the “work you” can never be truly compartmentalized. He explained how staying true to his authentic-self had empowered his design career, a sentiment that perfectly resonated with Design Camp’s motif “Inside Out,” a theme focused simultaneously on introspection and expression.
Throughout the weekend campers were treated to many more like-minded presentations from some of the brightest brands and creative agencies in the industry. Speakers and presenters included Lauren Dickens, Uno Branding, Andy J. Pizza, Dazzle Studio, Latitude, and more.
Adding richness to rustic
Smartpress was proud to be on the esteemed list of AIGA Design Camp sponsors, contributing printing for all of the event signage. Partnering with Minneapolis brand design agency, Cue, Smartpress created yard signs, photo-op backgrounds, retractable banners, hanging banners, and more that guided campers around the resort and further showcased the vibrant Design Camp “Inside Out” branding, juxtaposed against the overcast sky and north woods landscape.
Collaborating with Cue, Smartpress also printed a custom-designed wire coil sketchbook filled with premium Neenah paper and a laser die-cut complimentary drink ticket which were both included in the Adobe swag bag that was gifted to each camper. Even though the fall weather was cold, AIGA Minnesota provided a remarkably warm and welcoming experience. We’ve already marked our calendars for next year!