Meet Your San Diego Design Week 2021 Committee

Sep 06, 2021

San Diego Design Week would not be possible without the support of our partners, sponsors, and most importantly without our community.

We spoke with our 2021 Committee members, who represent a variety of design and community organizations in the San Diego–Tijuana region, to give you a behind-the-scenes look at the curators of this spectacular event. Enjoy!

Can you share a little about yourself and your career in the design field?

Susan MerritT

Professor Emerita, School of Art + Design, San Diego State University; Co-founder, Design Innovation Institute

I grew up in the Carolinas. After majoring in art in college, I lived in Switzerland for six years where I completed postgraduate study in graphic design at the Basel School of Design. I taught graphic design at the University of Hawaii-Manoa for five years before moving to San Diego. I’m an emeritus faculty of the School of Art and Design at San Diego State University where I taught graphic design studio classes, graphic design history, and introduced book arts into the curriculum. Alongside teaching, I worked as a graphic designer, most recently as a principal of CWA, Inc. and later went back to school and earned a master’s degree in Design Research, Writing and Criticism at the School of Visual Arts in New York. My husband, Calvin Woo, and I co-founded the nonprofit Design Innovation Institute to advocate for bringing awareness of design across disciplines. Throughout my career as a graphic designer, design educator, and book artist, typography has been at the heart of my creative work, as well as my design research and writing. Currently, I’m having fun playing with vintage wood type and letterpress printing.

Katalina Silva

Chief Creative Officer, Enigma Creative; Host, CreativeMornings/Tijuana

Katalina Silva is a creative director who works in Tijuana, the city where she was born.

Passionate about design, community, and music, her career has focused on visualizing, creating, and implementing communication strategies. She collaborated on multidisciplinary public and community art projects.

Currently, she is co-founder and partner at Enigma Creative, a Member of the Board of Advisors at Balboa Park Cultural Partnership and San Diego Design Week, and a Designer-in-Residence at UCSD Design Lab. Since 2014, she’s the host of Tijuana’s CreativeMornings.

MaeLin Levine

Visual Asylum, SD/TJ World Design Capital 2024

I have been fortunate enough to have built a 30+ year career that is as fresh and inspiring today as it was when I began. I’ve been internationally recognized and was awarded the prestigious AIGA Fellow Award in 2008. I’m originally from Leadville, Colorado, and hold a BFA in Graphic Communications Design from the University of Denver and participated in the AIGA leadership program at Harvard Business School.

I most recently lead the bid team for the San Diego/Tijuana World Design Capital 2024 initiative on behalf of Design Forward Alliance in addition to designing the bid document and presentation materials, creative direction of the bid video, and bid website. I currently sit on the board of the Downtown San Diego Partnership and the Placemaking committee, helping to make a difference in the built environment of downtown.

I served on the board of the San Diego Chapter of AIGA – the professional association for design – for sixteen years and was president for four years. In that role, I was part of the team that envisioned and launched the Y Conference, now in its 25th year, and developed the first-ever international chapter of the organization (AIGA Baja). I am a passionate design educator, currently launching the redesign of the Graphic Communications Design program for UCSD Extension. Having taught for many years at San Diego City College and Point Loma Nazarene University, I have hopefully helped to inspire hundreds of students over the years.

I am the Founder and President of the Board of Trustees of the Urban Discovery Schools (TK-12) – a highly successful K-12 charter school. My sister/partner, Amy, and I are responsible for the brand identity design, interior design, and all external communications for the school now in its 13th year of operation and serving over 600 students and families in the heart of downtown San Diego.

Our graphic communications design firm, Visual Asylum, is focused on design for education, involved in transformational school site projects!

What do you love most about design?

Susan Merritt

I like that design is broad-reaching and all-encompassing, and in the hands of a sensitive designer, can be life-changing.

MaeLin Levine

What I love most about a career in design is that it is fluid, with the ability to evolve across disciplines, and every client and project affords the opportunity to constantly be learning! Every day is different from the previous, the work is challenging, rewarding, and most of all, FUN.

Katalina Silva

What I like most about design is that it can create a narrative – a story. I like that design can be universal and can be perceived in its own context. It is like a musical language, composed of white space, rhythm, and melodies. I like that the design is not static.

Why did you and your organization want to get involved with SDDW?

Patricia Cué

Creative Director, Mingei International Museum

Two years ago Mingei saw the need for a regional event that celebrated all the amazing designers, craftspeople, and artists in our region. It initiated conversations with other organizations in San Diego and Tijuana and found that everyone was just as excited as they were to bring a Design Week to our region. Momentum for design in San Diego has continued to grow, resulting in the San Diego/Tijuana region being shortlisted for the World Design Capital 2024.

Susan Merritt

Serving on the San Diego Design Week committee and as an SDDW advisor takes me back to the 1980s when the graphic design community came together to establish the San Diego chapter of AIGA. We wanted to engage with the national and international design communities and be recognized for the work we were doing. I got involved in SDDW for many of the same reasons. I hope the events will ignite a broader conversation about design in the San Diego region, acknowledge designers and their work, raise awareness of the value of design, and inspire young people to consider design as a viable career opportunity.

MaeLin Levine

We have been involved in creating and promoting the design community for decades and feel that San Diego Design Week is an amazing catalyzing force for celebration, awareness about all the amazing work happening in our region.

Katalina Silva

It's about design in all its disciplines! And because it is an international event with a strong presence in the region and also drives the growth of the design community in San Diego - Tijuana. Because at Enigma Creative we are a multidisciplinary collaborative space, passionate about what we do and what we believe in.

What do you hope designers and community members take away from SDDW?

Susan Merritt

I hope designers are inspired to engage across disciplines and to participate in future San Diego Design Weeks. I hope that community members develop an appreciation of what San Diego has to offer both in contemporary design as well as design history.

MaeLin Levine

Inspiration, pride, and engagement!

Katalina Silva

I would love for designers and the community to have the opportunity to meet new design proposals or points of view, maybe make collaborations with other designers, they could get involved in community changes or why not, do business. Oh, and obviously, get inspired.