Washington, DC -- The Organization of Black Designers (OBD) held its first national conference Dogon To Digital: Design Force 2000, at the Midland hotel, in Chicago recently. The conference attracted over 300 national and international African-American design practitioners engaged in the disciplines of interior design, graphic design, fashion design, and industrial design united under one roof for the first time. The conference provided a forum to explore and define educational, economic and cultural parameters that will allow OBD members to continue to make a national and international impact on the $800 billion design economy. Greg Tate, Village Voice columnist and author of Flyboy In The Buttermilk and cinematographer Arthur Jafa of Spike Lee's "Crooklyn" and "Daughters of the Dust" fame were the keynote speakers.
OBD is the first national organization dedicated to addressing the unique needs of African-American design professionals and other designers of color. FFounded in 1990, the non-profit organization seeks to educate the design community regarding the contributions of African-American designers; increase the visibility of African-American designers and promote and assist the economic empowerment of African-American designers. OBD currently boasts over 3,500 members.
"Although our main focus is the African-American designer, membership is open to all qualified design professionals regardless of race, gender, or sexual preference," said David Rice OBD chairman and founder. He continued, "Our mission is to enhance and improve the American design professions as a whole by energizing them with creative diversity. " Dogon to Digital" has united designers to explore a multitude of subjects in an attempt to position the African-American design community as a growing positive force as we approach the year 2000."
There is a significant African-American presence in the media and design arts. While many design styles and trends are created by people of color, very few of the products of that authorship are actually produced and owned by people of color. Society-at-large, and specifically the design professions, have not sought to fully nurture the unique cultural perspective and gifts that African-Americans and other people of color can bring to the various design disciplines.
For example, out of approximately 10,000 industrial designers in America, less than 250 are African-American. There are 31 million African-Americans in the United States.
What are the opportunities for and oppositions to cultural equity in the design professions in America? Is there an undeveloped African-American design aesthetic and entrepreneurial spirit that is just waiting to revolutionize American design in the same way that African-American rhythms have dominated popular music? How can African-Americans' unique experiences as cultural originators and synthesizers be leveraged and utilized in the digital age of design? The conference explored these questions and more in an attempt to position Black designers as a growing force for positive positive contributions to the design professions as we approach the year 2000 and enter the next millennium.
For additional information on the Organization of Black Designers contact:
Bill Brown, Communications Director
300 M Street, SW Suite N110
WWashington, DC 20024
202/659-3918 E-mail: OBDesign@aol.com