Connections Launch Careers at Phoenix Design Week

Deb Caron
Deb Caron
Oct 20, 2017 · 2 min read

What inspires an individual to become a designer? Is it thanks to dedicated practice or simply an innate ability? For Melissa Balkon, seeing the world through the lens of design has always been a part of her soul.

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“If I had to somehow define what I love about it, I guess I would say that good design just makes every experience better,” said Melissa. “Whether it is the physical experience, the messaging experience or something as simple as a beautiful package.”

Pursuing a creative career of her own is partly why she started her own business, Strong Design Studios. As a one-woman company, she does just about everything, from sales, service, and, of course, the design. While any entrepreneur will tell you owning a business presents its unique challenges, Melissa finds that immersing herself in Phoenix Design Week is a way to reconnect with her creative roots.

“I once heard someone define the experience as a big ‘kumbaya’ moment with the design community,” said Melissa. “It is just so exciting to bring everyone together. I’m excited for the keynote speakers, the chance to spend time with fellow designers, and I look forward to the opportunity to exhibit and sell my art prints at the pop-up shop.”

PHX Design Week fosters a strong sense of community among its participants. Often described as “one big family”, Melissa cites Phoenix Design Week as the catalyst for her career. In 2009, she helped plan the inaugural event, which led to a game-changing position with the Forty team (led by the local legend James Archer, the agency was eventually acquired by Crowd Favorite). The connections she made while there tipped the trajectory of her career and says she can still trace back a huge portion of her business to relationships she built as a result of getting highly involved in the local design community.

“I can clearly recall PHXDW 2009 as the first place I ever heard about user experience design — way before it was such a popular topic and career,” said Melissa. “Since then I have always left inspired to do great work.”

Intrigued? Learn more about Phoenix Design Week at and grab tickets to the kickoff event, the Method + Madness Conference on October 28th and 29th at the Phoenix Convention Center.


Phoenix Design Week

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