Debbie Millman | Audio

Dana Arnett

Dana Arnett is a founding principal and CEO of the internationally recognized firm VSA Partners and has established a 30-year career steeped in design leadership, business and brand consulting, and policymaking. Arnett, along with his partners, lead a group of 300 associates in the creation of design programs and digital and interactive marketing initiatives for a diverse roster of clients, including Harley-Davidson, IBM, General Electric, Kraft, Coca-Cola, Thomson Reuters, Sappi and Anheuser-Busch. Recognized internationally by multiple organizations for his contributions to design and design thinking, Dana continues to guide VSA in the creation of brand programs, digital and interactive initiatives, and marketing solutions for a diverse roster of world-class clients. He will receive the 2014 AIGA Medal on April 25, 2014.

Posted in: Business, Design Matters

Comments [4]

When I meet a designer in my age group (born mid-to-late 1980s or around there) I’ll often ask them what they think of Debbie Millman. They usually respond with specific and enthusiastic praise: “I love Design Matters,” “I watched her Creative Mornings talk three times on YouTube,” etc. Then, if I think the person seems cool and/or I or they have had a couple drinks, I’ll say: “Yeah, but isn’t she hot? I have a major crush on her.” This almost always leads the conversation in an even more interesting direction.

Examples: One young woman called her past attempts to obtain an internship at Sterling Brands “offering myself to Debbie Millman.” Another girl said she fetishized (her word) Debbie’s tall black boots. A guy said Debbie was “the sexiest designer in New York, and one of the sexiest New York women, period.”

Debbie may have the curves of a 1950s pin-up girl, but unlike some designers I could name, Debbie doesn’t need to take off her clothes to get attention. That’s because, in the most important sense of the word, she is always naked. That is to say, she is constantly, perhaps compulsively, emotionally truthful. Everything she does expresses her complex and conflicting facets: her intelligence and pain, desire and anger are out there for all to see. Even her iconic wardrobe makes the body of Debbie Millman a sexy study in contrasts: ultra-feminine voluptuousness meets boho-chic, curvaceous meets angular.

I am writing this because I want Debbie to know she is heard, admired, desired, understood – not just as a “branding expert” or “design luminary” but from a pure, deep human place. I’m writing on behalf of all the Debbie devotees because she needs to know we’re out there and listening. At times, I imagine she must feel torn apart by all that’s going on inside her, and it may help a little to know that we accept and love each part of her, inside and out...Maybe that’s the secret of the Debbie Millman fetish.

Tricia, umm, we need to talk.


I have exactly the same feelings, except about Dana Arnett.
Michael Bierut

Me too, Michael!
Jessica Helfand

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