TED has become a household name for big ideas, and the annual TED conference has been the heart and soul of the TED organization from the start. When TED turned 30, we were invited to design the visual theme and exhibits for this milestone event.

We jumped in with a bold vision to keep it simple. Typography and color drove everything: from the large-scale environmental graphics and signage all the way down to the print collateral.

Members of the TED team understand that design makes things clearer, not just better looking. Trained to pare an idea down to its essential components, we first looked at the function of each deliverable: Program guides are navigational tools. Signage is architecture. Exhibits are provocations.

Each of these experiences are interactive and have a reciprocal relationship to TED attendees: If it functions better, I will use it more; if it provokes me, I will pay more attention; if it delights me, I will embrace it.

The TED organization has taken a leadership position as a media entity that design as part of their overarching mission. (It’s in their name). They know that design isn’t simply adding a pretty frame around what they are already doing, design is core to what TED brings to 1 billion global viewers.