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Pretty in…?

AIGA membership card.
left: old design
right: redesign

I just received my new AIGA membership card in the mail yesterday and while I was really happy that they enacted a system to update cards with a new sticker every year instead of a new plastic card (go green!), I was somewhat taken aback to discover this magenta piece of (recycled) plastic staring up at me for what will now be an eternity.

Granted, I fully understand and appreciate the concept behind this color being one of 4 “designer” colors (cyan, magenta, yellow, or white/black reflecting the CMYK inks in print) and one could even argue that magenta is hipster-trendy and maybe even gender-neutral in today’s day and age. Furthermore, did I really expect to get a choice between C, M, Y, and K? Nevertheless, as a female mass consumer first and foremost, my initial reaction was that of dread: did it have to be pink? I have never been a girly girl and have always struggled to find something geared towards my gender that wasn’t stereotypically and overly pink, flowery, and glittery. Yes, maybe magenta isn’t quite Barbie pink, and maybe I am being hypocritical in saying pink is not always for girls and yet saying this is pink and it says “girl.” But let’s get beyond the PC talk and face it: culturally we are still navigating our way away from “blue is for boys, red is girls” and in context (a magenta card in a woman’s wallet), this would be read as a “girl” color. In a man’s wallet, a magenta card would say “confident and fashionable” but in mine, not so much.

Personal preferences aside, I find the type treatment changes pretty intriguing. The original card’s type treatment was conservative, professional, maybe authoritative or even cold and alienating in its austere handling. I know that the use of upper and small caps together is pretty controversial in some circles of type purists. Its somewhat corporate design did not necessarily differentiate this as a designer’s card*. Layout-wise, the first thing you notice is “AIGA”, followed by the member name.

In the new card, the first thing you notice (outside of the color) is the member name while the vibrant expiration date pulls your eye to the bottom right. Whether or not your eye hits AIGA’s logo before moving there, I think, is up for discussion. The font also carries a lot more character. It’s bold upper and lowercase type feels somewhat friendlier and (in conjunction with its color choices) more fun. However, this makes me wonder if it takes away from the idea of AIGA as a “professional association for design.” In my opinion, this layout doesn’t feel any more designed than the original–in fact it seems somewhat lo-fi, especially so if it was on a white card.

I guess in the end it all depends on what AIGA was trying to achieve in its redesign–personality vs professionalism. Trendy vs. traditional. The one thing I do love is that it reflects efforts to be more sustainable.

So, what do YOU think? Do you like AIGA’s new membership card design? What do you think improved and what do you think needs improvement?

*Good design is generally thought to be one that disappears to the background instead of distracts the viewer when done correctly, so whether a designer’s card should draw attention or disappear in perfection is a good question. Furthermore, corporations often ask designers to design their materials, so a professional designer’s card and designed professional’s card could potentially be treated the same…ahhh philosophy =P.

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6 Comments to Pretty in…?

  1. Lis's Gravatar Lis
    April 6, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Agreed: logo becomes invisible, expiration date is va va voom! Doesn’t seem to fit the probable intent. I wouldn’t want to carry a pink card either. Kind of reminds me of “trendy” students carrying around their school books in VS bags…

  2. April 6, 2010 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    This article came up in my google search, I just received my new card… pink. I’ve been debating for some time if this membership is still solid for me, as aiga doesn’t hold much weight in the web world, pink might very much push me over the edge!

    • April 10, 2010 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

      I agree, AIGA currently has more in the way of print, but I think because web-design is a relatively recent development for graphic designers compared to it. I sense that AIGA is trying to catch up, though. What would you like to see more of?

      By the way, does the pink push you over the edge in a good (keep AIGA) or bad way? Which reminds me, I wonder if one day “designer colors” will be CMYK as well as RGB…

      Thanks for reading and commenting! Always nice to connect with other designers =)

  3. March 23, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    My eyes were drawn first to the weightier AIGA logo, and then the Expiration sticker, but I realized i sub-consciously lost interest in that obsidian square because the letters were barely visible. Either way, I think it’s a refreshing update because the old one looks like you work at a law firm. :D

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