Experiencing the International Design Conference, 2018

IMG_2413.JPG

Previously IDSA’s International IDSA Conference, this new IDC experience was a touch of the usual with something new. As usual, this conference was full of great discussions and inspirational speakers.  The IDSA Conference is still a venue that affords plenty of opportunities to network at parties in between the inspired talks. The event featured on-stage presentations by independent thought leaders, educators and large enterprises like PepsiCo and Google.  The venue served up a variety of provocative topics, from branding to the future of design and experience, sustainability & ecology, disruptive technologies and equality in the workplace. It was a weekend of zero sleep and pages of my sketchbook being scribbled in and photographs snapping left and right. Here are our top take aways.


IMG_2425.JPG

Make Mistakes and Confront Them

Steve Selzer’s presentation really resonated with me. He spoke about “Design for Confrontation.” He addressed the uncomfortable topic of confrontation in three impactful ways: to your colleagues, to your consumers, and to yourself. He sighted research where multiple teams were interviewed and studied. Surprisingly, the better, more successful teams were making more mistakes.The big reveal was…the most successful teams were openly confronting their mistakes and learning from them. He talked about the only way your colleagues are going to grow is if you confront them with those uncomfortable conversations. Steve then went into speaking about confronting your consumers and talked about how there is resilience in the system of a community. He ended his talk by speaking about confronting ourselves. To grow, we must understand our faults and confront them. To me this talk stood out because although we are told all the time to self-evaluate, it is not every day that you are told to have those real talks.  Steve encouraged us to have those uncomfortable conversations, for the betterment of others and ourselves. The more mistakes you and your team make the better everyone will be.

LRG_DSC00144.JPG

Human Experience should be our focus, not user experience.

We are in the middle of this interesting period where “user experience” is the new buzz word. It is not that I am saying that in a negative way, but throughout the weekend, I was reminded that we designers need to start thinking more about how our decisions are impacting the “Human Experience”.  Claude made us think about all the connected social apps we frequently use, are they actually disconnecting us?  I suppose it’s easy to get caught up in the process of designing the next sticky thing, but we should keep in mind that we are designing for humanity. We need to ensure that we do not forget that as humans we need face to face interactions. As Claude Zellweger, Director of Design at Google said, “Face to face interactions help fight depression. We need a mixture of both engaging and disengaging.” Claude also spoke about how we need to teach the next generation about digital hygiene, just like we teach our kids about dental hygiene.

LRG_DSC00110.JPG

We are finally getting back to a place where design is used to effect change and impact humanity.

Debbie Millman was one of the hosts and launched the conference with an incredible talk about brands and where they began and a brief history of design. She showed the first recognized brand in the US, and spoke about the impact of Apple iPods, myspace and where this has all lead us to be today. Debbie spoke about how we are coming out of a slump in design. Today, if you look at design, we are truly using design to change the world we live in. Take the pink pussy hat or the Me-Too Movement. Debbie spoke about how brands were originally created to understand each other. Branding is now more democratized. We stopped making brands based on what we believed, until recently. It is an exciting time to be a designer and to be in the design world. We are using our voices and our seat at the table. We are regaining our power to change humanity.  We’re moving people through design.


RKS has been involved with the IDSA since the firm was started 38 years ago. Our CEO and Founder Ravi is a Fellow of IDSA and I am the Chair of the Los Angeles Chapter. Each year we send team members to learn and be inspired as we evaluate where design is going and how it can be used to benefit the future with our industry colleagues.  “Design” continues to expand its reach beyond just physical products, the Human continues to be the focal point.  As we continue to integrate smart technology and Artificial Intelligence into new offerings to simplify our lives and reduce complexity we must understand the experiences that can’t be stripped away and add value to our lives. We are proud to support a community of creatives like Industrial Designers’ Society of America and look forward to the continued interactions and discussions about the future with our colleagues.

Written By: Meghan Preiss