Making Design Matter

Debbie Millman & Justin Ahrens hosted by Steven Morris

Author 3-Way conversation — Making Design Matter

With Debbie Millman, Justin Ahrens, and Steven Morris / Video Replay

If you want to minimize risk, work with a professional. If you want extraordinary results, work with an expert. 

The predicament of all entrepreneurs and business leaders is to integrate reality and possibility. We must work with our business realities to manage our day-to-day operation. We must work with possibility to envision and create our future. 

Perhaps, it is designers, in the highest professional sense, that are best trained and equipped to help usher in a new reality — for business, society, and the world.

Debbie Millman and Justin Ahrens are experts in shaping envisioned futures through design and beyond. Debbie and Justin are trained designers, experienced entrepreneurs, and impact pioneers who have spent decades honing and transcending their craft. 

Debbie is the author of seven books, including her most recent, Why Design Matters, and host of the wildly successful podcast Design Matters, which Apple designated one of their “All Time Favorite Podcasts.” 

Justin is the co-founder and Chief Brand Officer of Rule29. He lives the firm’s philosophy of Making Creative Matter®. His design for good project Wheels4Water helped over 19,500 Africans get life-saving clean water. He’s the author of Life Kerning and host of the DesignOf podcast.

The conversation was hosted by Steven Morris, CEO of Matter Consulting, advisor, author, designer, and artist. His most recent book, The Beautiful Business, encourages entrepreneurs to create an integrated business entity that melds brand, culture, and business strategy.

A huge thanks to Debbie Millman and Justin Ahrens for stepping into this conversation and sharing your valuable insights and wisdom.

About the speakers

Debbie Millman

Named “one of the most creative people in business” by Fast Company, and “one of the most influential designers working today” by Graphic Design USA, Debbie Millman is also an illustrator, author, educator, curator, and host of the podcast Design Matters

Design Matters is one of the first and longest running podcasts in the world. As host and founder, Millman has interviewed nearly 500 of the most creative people in the world over the past 18 years. 

Debbie is the author of seven books, including three collections of interviews that have extended the ethos and editorial vision of Design Matters to the printed page: How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer and Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits. Her most recent book, Why Design Matters: Conversations with the World’s Most Creative People, was published by Harper Collins in 2022.  

Debbie co-founded the world’s first graduate program in branding at the School of Visual Arts in New York City in 2010.

Justin Ahrens

As co-founder and Chief Brand Officer of Rule29, Justin Ahrens lives the firm’s philosophy of Making Creative Matter®. With a collaborative approach to both strategy and design, Rule29 works with nonprofits to Fortune 50 companies. His design for good project Wheels4Water helped over 19,500 Africans get life-saving clean water, was recognized as a world-changing idea by Fast Company, raised over a million dollars, and got him invited to talk about at the Obama White House.

Justin is the host of the podcast DesignOf which focuses on the extraordinary things that happen around us every day and the extraordinary people that make them happen. He has authored several books, including “Life Kerning: Creative Ways to Fine Tune Your Perspective on Career & Life” (Wiley).

Leading publications and organizations such as Fast Company, HOW, Communication Arts, Print, Logo Lounge, AIGA, GD:USA and Graphis have published Rule29’s award-winning work or has had Justin as a judge, speaker or writer.

Steven Morris

Steven Morris is an expert brand and culture builder, advisor, author, and speaker. He has worked with 300+ brands including Samsung, Sony, Habitat for Humanity, Amazon, International Trademark Association, NFL, and MLB. Over his 27 years as an entrepreneur, he’s served more than 3,000 global business leaders.

His new book is entitled The Beautiful Business: An Actionable Manifesto to Create an Unignorable Business with Love at the Core has been dubbed as “The artist’s way for business leaders.”

He reaches 25,000+ readers through his blog and writes about branding, culture, leadership, and the intersection between work and life as a contributing writer for Retail Observer, Wisdom Well, Business Week, Brand Week, Conscious Company Magazine, Communication Arts, HOW Magazine and MarketingProfs.

When he is not supporting leaders in building beautiful brands and businesses, Steven explores his wholehearted participation with life as a husband, father, artist, surfer, motorcyclist, and beekeeper.

Design is one of the few disciplines that is a science as well as an art. Effective, meaningful design requires intellectual, rational rigor along with the ability to elicit emotions and beliefs. Thus, designers must balance both the logic and lyricism of humanity every time they design something, a task that requires a singularly mysterious skill.”

― Debbie Millman

From time to time, all of us need to assess our personal and work lives to see whether they are feeding each other or fighting each other.”

― Justin Ahrens