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Command X: Neenah Sponsors, Bierut Hosts

Written by in Events

bierut

Michael Bierut reprises his role (seen above hosting Command X at the AIGA Conference in Denver, 2007) as host of Command X at the Make/Think: AIGA Design Conference in Memphis October 8-11. This reality-based contest was a big hit two years ago and anticipation is high again this year. Sean Adams will be working behind the scenes with contestants at work. while Paul Sahre, graphic designer, illustrator, educator and author, Bonnie Siegler of Number 17 and Chip Kidd, designer, illustrator, educator and author.

Against the Grain
Thank you for taking the time share your thoughts Michael. We were reviewing the video from last year’s show and saw you in a necktie. I didn’t even know you OWNED a necktie until Denver. Am I wrong?

Michael Bierut
You’re getting me confused with someone else. I actually wear a suit or jacket, with a tie, almost every day I go to work. I will do so on stage at Command X as a gesture of respect to our contestants and in acknowledgement of the gravity of the challenge they have chosen to undertake.

Against the Grain
How can participants go to the main event parties and still compete effectively in this whirlwind conference?

Michael Bierut
One of the reasons we have an age requirement for the players is because we know that young people need no sleep and can thus attend all the parties, all the events, and still get the assignments done.

Against the Grain
Let’s face it. This event plays to the fantasies and fears of many designers: to compete against Grade AAAA talent and present their work in front of numerous famous design professionals. Given the constraints of time (which lends the drama!), so about all the designers can really offer are strong concepts. There simply is not enough time for execution or exploration. Is this really a fair way to judge professional work, even in a game show setting?

Michael Bierut
Like most working designers, I seldom feel my work is judged “fairly,” whatever that means. I think our judges are seasoned enough to appreciate the conditions under which the work has been produced, and evaluate it accordingly.

Against the Grain
Have you heard from any of the contestants from last year’s show? Did their experience at Command X lead them to new and exciting opportunities (like being named a Pentagram partner)?

Michael Bierut
I just discovered that Nichele Narsisi, who was the grand prize winner in the first season of Command X, is working as a designer at Adams Norioka. Not bad.

Against the Grain
Why do you think this event/show/game was so popular at the conference in Denver? Schadenfreude? Brian Collins’ gift of chocolates as atonement for abandoning the show one day to attend a meeting in San Francisco?

Michael Bierut
After participating in Command X, I have a new appreciation for the basic genius of the process that’s used to mount any elimination-based talent show like “Project Runway” or “Top Chef.” If you’re in the audience, once you meet the contestants, you inevitably get invested in their success, a process that gets more and more intense round after round. It’s inherently dramatic.

Against the Grain
Paul Sahre is one of the judges this year. Paul is famous for being fair and frank. He can bite. There is a risk of public humiliation here. Are the ground rules for what judge’s can and cannot say about the work they review?

Michael Bierut
There are no rules about what judges can or can’t say. Our judges all have teaching experience and I have no doubt they will balance tact and candor in a way that will lead to the best kind of feedback for our contestants.

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    10:39am
    Aubrey K. said:

    Command X was easily one of my favorite parts of the whole conference (and dramatic, indeed). Bierut and Adams were brilliant hosts! I hope they keep this segment for many Make/Thinks to come.

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    1:09pm
    Ken said:

    Agree with Aubrey- Command X is part of what keeps the AIGA Conference hoppin’!