As you may know I love going to conferences, but those that I enjoy the most tend to be much less oriented towards the internet, development and digital design, but ones that take a broad theme and ask speakers from all sorts of disciplines to talk on that theme.
Or at least that’s the sort of conference I would like to attend, but they don’t really exist. Usually if a conference does have a theme, the majority of speakers would spend the first five minutes talking about the theme, and then out comes the showreel; yet-another-here-is-my-portfolio-style talk.
I’ve always thought that if I had the time, money, and will to host an event, I’d want to orient it around the theme of designing for humans and individuals, and invite individuals from a wide variety of disciplines. I feel there’s far more to learn, and more value to be had, from hearing the opinions and work of what practitioners from other industries beyond our own, and provide a space for people to collaborate and cross-pollinate ideas.
So here is the full line-up for my fantasy conference.
Marije Vogelzang — a dutch “eating designer” who designs extraordinary eating experiences, and consults to the food industry alongside personal work that explores the way we interact with food and the people we dine with. There is a great video to watch that provides a comprehensive overview of her work.
Jonathan Harris — simply my favourite interaction designer whose projects explore our relationship with technology and each other. His most famous project, We Feel Fine attempts to visualise the emotions of the world by parsing emotive language from a variety of sources on the internet.
Erica Eden from Smart Design — I saw Erica talk at an AIGA conference and she had some fascinating things to say about design for females, and how nearly everyone fucks it up. You can read some of her pieces on Smart’s website, or read more articles by her on Fast Company.
Iain Tait — for a long time I considered Iain to be responsible for some of the only interesting work in digital advertising during his tenure at Wieden+Kennedy, but has since moved to Google Creative Labs. He’s a fellow psychology graduate too, so I’d particularly be interested to hear how this informs his work.
Andrew Shoben of Greyworld — “playing in the city” is the strapline for Greyworld, who produce fascinating urban projects; little interventions that delight those that encounter them throughout the urban environment. As urbanism is destined to expand at terminal velocity, I think those who help make urban environments stimulating for their inhabitants have such interest opinions to share.
Richard Rogers — I chose Rogers specifically for the work his practice did for Maggie’s Cancer Care Homes. An incredibly challenging brief demands a carefully considered solution; so successful that the project won the practice the Sterling prize in 2009.
Cameron Sinclair — if you haven’t seen Cameron’s fascinating TED talk on open source architecture, take a moment to do so. Architecture for Humanity is a charitable organization that seeks architectural solutions to humanitarian crisis and brings professional design services to communities in need.
Michael Bierut — it’s difficult to chose somebody or a firm that has consistently delivered interesting graphic design solutions that adress human interactive, but I think Pentagram’s work on city signage and environmental design—particularly for their work in New York City—could be an interesting contribution. It also helps that Michael is a brilliantly entertaining and charming speaker.
Robert Hammond from Friends of the High Line — there has been no more successful public space created in an urban environment than the High Line, and the story of the community that helped kickstart the project is fascinating. Or if not Robert, I’m fascinated by James Corner Field Operations who was responsible for the landscaping of the park: how do you plant and shape a new park for consumption by the general public.
Dougald Hine of Space Makers — as an industry we talk at great length about how to encourage online communities to grow and flourish, but the conversation about how to cultivate “offline” communities is often lost. Space Makers’ first project was to reinvigorate Brixton Village, and Dougald talks passionately about the importance of reinvigorating communities.
This isn’t an exhaustive list and there must be many more sectors that I have considered that I’d love to feature. For instance, I’m unfamiliar with design for medicine and prosthetics, so if you have any suggestions who I should invite to my fantasy conference, I’d love to know.