Contact/o: Design Beyond Borders


Over the course of almost three decades, AIGA San Diego has cultivated a vibrant partnership and cross-cultural community among design professionals throughout Tijuana, greater Baja and San Diego.

“The ongoing relationship adds valuable depth and dimension to our design community,” says Máximo Escobedo, who serves on the AIGA San Diego Board of Directors as Vice President and Chair of Cross-Border Relations. “Since our first event in 1997, Contact/o has evolved as a defining initiative within our region – setting us apart nationally and internationally.”

The panel discussion will be moderated by Escobedo during the upcoming Y Conference (Y25). 2022 marks the 25th anniversary of the Y Conference, which takes place September 20-21st at The Alexandria at Torrey Pines.

“We’re bringing together a panel of cross-border design innovators and thought leaders for the panel, which also commemorates the 25th anniversary of Contact/o,” says Máximo. “We’ll spotlight the unique and enduring bicultural design foundation of our region, and examine some of the challenges we face as we look to the future.”

The intent of AIGA San Diego is to spotlight the rich outcomes and opportunities brought about by Contact/o. This ongoing commitment illuminates the value of cross-cultural collaboration in tangible ways that positively impact local communities and beyond.

As San Diego/Tijuana looks ahead to hosting the first ever binational World Design Capital in 2024, it was only natural that Contacto/o would emerge as a timely vital voice within the year-long focus. The upcoming panel discussion is a key step in contextualizing the fruitful cross-border partnerships that have become a hallmark of our region.

“We’ve always sought to lead the way toward a new era of meaningful and sustainable collaboration,” Escobedo says. “Our rich cross-border relationships speak for themselves and have fostered a lasting legacy that will shape our region well beyond 2024.”

Additional details about the event will be available in coming months. At present, confirmed panelists include:


  • Máximo Escobedo—  Vice President / Cross-Border AIGA San Diego, Principal Maximo Creative Communications, Instructor & Advisor UC San Diego Extended Studies, Contact/o lead 


  • Johanna Mora – Founder & Director, Esquina Norte, Contact/o contributor
  • Arturo Elenes – AIGA San Diego board member, Partner, Enigma Creative
  • Isabel Salinas Gutierrez, PhD – Graphic Design Director, Researcher, Author, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California


  • MaeLin Levine –  President, AIGA San Diego, World Design Capital Bid Chair, Partner Visual Asylum, Contact/o contributor
  • Rafael López – Illustrator, Muralist, Contact/o contributor
  • Susan Merritt – Educator, Design Researcher/Writer, Board of Advisors for SD Design Week, AIGA SD Advisory Board, Contact/o contributor

In the meantime, members interested in participating in the ongoing development of Contact/o should contact Máximo Escobedo directly at


Contact/o was established in 1997 as a key initiative of AIGA San Diego in partnership with creative professionals from Tijuana and Baja, California. Over nearly three decades, Contact/o has encompassed exhibitions, design showcases, panel discussions and social events, fostering countless rich, collaborative relationships between design professionals on both sides of the Southern California / Mexico border.


AIGA San Diego was established in 1987 as a chapter of AIGA, the Professional Association of Design. Founded in 1914, AIGA now comprises more than 70 chapters worldwide and exists to advocate for a greater understanding of the value of design and designers in government, business and media. AIGA San Diego has distinguished itself beyond typical professional networking organizations through community contribution and impact, as reflected in the creation of the nationally-recognized initiatives such as the annual Y Conference, the Urban Art Trail, Tweet Street Urban Park, the Soviet Poster Exhibition, Contact/o Binational Initiative and more. The organization serves the San Diego/Tijuana region as the voice of design leadership, and champions design as a powerful change agent essential to the greater good of the community. Learn more about AIGA San Diego and the benefits of membership.

By AIGA San Diego Tijuana
Published July 12, 2022