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A Poorly Constructed Lecture on Design Plus What?

LPK President and CEO Jerry Kathman visited the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning this week to deliver “A Poorly Constructed Lecture.” His talk flowed from his personal history to LPK’s influence and ideals in the design world.

Jerry explained how diverse LPK’s clients are; clients whose products contribute to major social issues such as healthcare providers, visual and performing arts, food banks and institutions dedicated to cultural preservation and evolution. The designer’s quest for meaning leads them down many unexpected roads and the understanding of desire is ascertained.

The history of brand design was discussed, leading to theories on the American Revolution being a catalyst for brand identity when British tincture bottles were appropriated by American entrepreneurs, who sold their own homemade mixtures under the guise of foreign imports. The birth of brand identity? Perhaps.

Jerry’s presentation revealed an unexpected source of his inspiration: Woody Guthrie. The American folk troubadour’s life and work reflected the American spirit of his time, akin to how a brand’s identity should be based on those it serves. In opposition to Irving Berlin’s over-the-top patriotic anthem, “God Bless America,” Guthrie wanted to write a song devoid of “psychic trash” (as our Chief Creative Officer Nathan Hendricks would say) and instead address his America: home to the Dust Bowl and soup lines. The result was the poignant and touching “This Land is Your Land.”

“A Poorly Constructed Lecture” addressed the three things Jerry doesn’t especially like to do: mathematics, public speaking and writing. So, how does he avoid these things? He doesn’t. The lecture itself served to demonstrate his point that designers must recognize and utilize both their strengths and weaknesses. A meaningful career requires more than just completing the joyful activities we love. It must incorporate everything necessary to get the job done.

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