Tim Larsen was elected MGDA president for the second time in 1980. Under his leadership MGDA decided that quality was more important than quantity. The newly expanded board of directors voted to reduce sponsored programs from six to three: the now juried design show, plus a new design conference, and a design office tour.

Bob Fleming organized the first Design Office Tour as an opportunity for MGDA members to see the working environments and recent work of their fellow graphic designers. Despite the falling snow, enthusiastic participants boarded a luxurious Jefferson bus and went off to visit five local design offices on March 22, 1980.

The first stop was the Carriage House Offices of Ariss and Eaton where principals Frank Ariss and Tim Eaton gave the group a warm welcome and captured everyone’s attention with a slide presentation of their work. The next stop was the showroom and design studios of J.B. Larson and Associates. Cindi Kemper-Smith, an A.S.I.D. designer, explained that the Interior Design Resources in the showroom were an extension of interior design representatives representing select furnishing manufacturers. Then MGDA members were introduced to Tim Geisler, the architect of this award winning space.

After lunch the group continued on to the downtown offices of Frink, Casey and Madsen. Eric Madsen and Kevin Kuester gave mini tours, showed projects they were working on, and introduced the members of their team. The Design Consortium, an AIA award winning office space, was the fourth stop. Architect Tim Giesler gave a guided tour of this stainless steel faced converted storefront and multi-level workspaces.

Then it was off to the southwestern suburbs to visit Design Center. Principals Dale Johnston and John Reger lead the group into their large workspaces, gave an overview of their recent projects, and encouraged MGDA members to continue on to the construction site of their new office building. The final visit was to the Yorktown Office Building where participants got a first hand look at newly built office spaces for rent and enjoyed socializing.

Member feedback from this first MGDA Office Tour was overwhelmingly positive. As a result this tour has become an ongoing AIGA event over the years.

First MGDA Office Tour Registration Form, Design by Bob Fleming, 1980

First MGDA Office Tour Registration Form, Design by Bob Fleming, 1980