Once again the IIT Institute of Design has put on a provocative and stimulating conference.
Under the theme “Exploring Creative Balance in Design“, the conference was a potpourri of glances at the past, understanding of the present, and flashes of future. It was held at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History, a stimulating change from the Spertus Institute, where it’s usually been held. There was an interesting ‘negative’ about the location in that electrical outlets were few and far between. Charging phones and laptops was a challenge. (Personally, while on my quest to find outlets, I found some really cool nooks in the museum that I didn’t even know existed)
Some highlights in no particular order:
Mickey McManus of Maya inspired awe. A trillion connected devices is just around the corner. A trillion! Think of what is possible (good and bad) when those devices interact with each other! Think of how nature communicates with itself!
Mel Lim talked about keeping Ego in check. A wonderful challenge to becoming better people to create a better world.
John Doyle gave an amazing talk of the limits of systems, how the same concepts govern phage evolution. Fast and specialized systems or slow and flexible? How to walk the line? What about feedbacks in our systems? How do we design for that? There was also a cautionary bent to his talk, but he emphasized the need for people to adopt new ways of looking at systems in the world. He mentioned to me afterwards how essential it is that the design world gets involved. The research needs to be made accessible to more than just mathematicians to be able to impact the world in its most profound way.
Darlene Damm spoke of her DIYROCKETS project. Open Sourcing the Space Industry. Amazing and disruptive innovation!
John Payne talked skeuomorphs and more, Ultimately it’s about understanding our culture so we can communicate through design more effectively.
Panos Papalambros spoke of optimizing designs using algorithms that are automatic as well as human assisted. Discussed the benefits of crowdsourcing this process as well.
Liz Sanders and co-creation. There truly is power when individuals create together as a communal entity. She’s got a great resource at Maketools.com that I’ve personally used. This is exciting work and it’s only going to mature more.
Matt Jones and Richard The of Google Creative Labs showed the power of video in prototyping. “All design is fiction.” Love that quote because everything starts as an idea – a fiction – and it becomes reality.
Lucy Kimbell talked about the various types of empathy using Star Trek’s Deanna Troi as the research subject.
There was also everyone’s favorite “curmudgeon”, Don Norman. He emphasized the need for design research to be more effectively integrated into corporate product development processes.
Matthew Clark and many others gave amazing talks.
If you’d like to see more from the conference check out #DRC2013 on Twitter. You can also go to Seen for a timeline of twitter posts about the conference.
Lastly, but in no way least, I met old friends and made new ones. When all is said and done, that’s what makes these conferences so valuable.
I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts and looking forward to next year!