Throughout the two day Design Research Conference the frog design team wandered around interviewing attendees and encouraging them to fill out the cards they received at registration check-in. The top card stated, "As you listen to the speakers, engage with other conference attendees, and think about what you hear, we'd like you to capture some notes. Please fill out these cards and bring them to Monday's 3:30pm interactive session." The other cards had questions such as "What are the biggest challenges facing design research today", "What superpower do you wish you had when conducting research", and "What problems in the world should design researchers tackle". Attendees had no idea what the frog team had up their sleeve, but attendees played along anyway. The frog team planned two activities for the end of each day of the conference, which required attendees to put their design thinking hats on, to interact with other attendees, teamwork, and of course fun.
Attendees gathered at 3:30pm on Monday ready to find out what role the cards would play in the first interactive frog activity. Everyone was asked to split up into groups of five people and to grab a worksheet. I joined a group of people, took a look at the worksheet and was really excited to find out that we were being asked to put together a Design Research Super Team! The worksheet had questions that matched the cards so we could collectively jot down the answer to the questions in one place as a team. It also had a space for the group to draw characters on the super team as well as name the group's super team.
After being greeted by the welcoming committee, checking in, exchanging my Polaroid photo for my nametag and taking in the introductory conference experience I chugged my morning cup of coffee and headed into the theater for this year's IIT Design Research Conference at the Spertus Institute in Chicago.
This year, the two-day schedule of the conference consisted of 25-35 minute talks from designers and non-designers presenting on Understanding Data, Story Making, Human Behavior, and the Adjacent Possible. Within these topic categories, Interactive Sessions were introduced in place of a day of workshops. There were two interactive sessions in particular, one given by Elliott Hedman on Understanding Data, and the other presented by George and Sara Aye on Human Behavior, which were both informative, engaging and helpful in that the attendees could test their skills as design researchers while experiencing the benefits of a more traditional presentation.
It's definitely fall in Chicago! My morning walk to the Spertus Institute was quite refreshing with the breeze coming off the lake and leaves blowing all around on the ground. Tuesday, October 9th was the first day of the Design Research Conference at the Spertus Institute in Chicago. This is my second year attending the conference so I was anxious to arrive early enough to check out what the planning committee had organized for DRC 2012. Last year, the planning committee did a wonderful job designing an interactive experience for the attendees from beginning to end.
Upon arrival, attendees were greeted by someone from the welcoming committee, who was geared up with Polaroid 300s ready to snap a personal instant photo of each attendee that walked though the door. After receiving the Polaroid picture, attendees checked in at registration and were then directed over to a wall of nametags. Attendees found their nametag on the wall, removed the nametag and replaced their nametag with their Polaroid picture.
Attendees headed upstairs to grab their morning coffee or tea, check out the conference space and mingle before opening remarks. It was great to see people reuniting from last year as well as those new to the conference meeting new people. In the common area, there were plenty of ways to strike up conversation, thanks to many areas of the room being set up to encourage engagement. The coffee and tea station had fun printed materials, strategically placed in front of the rows of paper cups, with the question "last night I slept:" with the following answers "In my own bed," "In a hotel" and "None of your beeswax."
There was also an interactive wall with post-it notes for attendees to capture thoughts, ideas, quotes and such from the talks they listened to throughout the day. Many conversations were struck in front of the wall as well as pictures being taken and re-organization from conference volunteers so the notes can be found under specific topics for easier navigation.
Reporting and Images by Ciara Taylor. Image above Courtesy of Guerrilla Truck Show.
If you were in Chicago attending NeoCon last week, hopefully you had a chance to take a break from the endless hallways of showrooms, get outside in the beautiful 70-degree weather, and attend the Guerrilla Truck Show. Tuesday, June 12th, 2012 marked the 8th annual Guerrilla Truck Show, which has become a staple in Chicago's design week. Every year during NeoCon, one of the largest design trade shows in the country, Fulton Market transforms into a pop-up art and design event with good people watching, a live DJ and food trucks. Exhibitors rent 14ft U-hauls, trucks and trailers, back them up to the Fulton Market loading docks, and transform them into personal gallery spaces.
Ryan Chorbagian of Relevant Reuse
Among the 50 trucks that participated in the show this year, many had spaces and objects made from repurposed materials, specifically wood and metal. One designer, Kendall Karmanian who is primarily known for his photography, mentioned gathering metal scraps from Chinatown to create the Wok Birdcage that was exhibited in his truck. Jacob Wener, a local furniture designer, sources his wood from a company that collaborates with the City of Chicago to buy all the trees that have fallen down throughout the city and resell the wood. Wener says this creates a unique story for each piece of furniture he designs and makes. When he sells a piece of furniture he shares the back-story of the piece to the buyer or if the buyer is not present he includes a document sharing the story of the furniture purchased. Ryan Chorbagian, of the Relevant Reuse truck, creates objects out of found and repurposed materials.
Kendall Karmanian's Wok Birdcage
Jacob Wener (above) and his furniture (below)
Other trucks and designers with heavy foot traffic were the Modern Farm Furniture Truck and Dave Ford. Kyle and Kiel, of Modern Farm Furniture Co., design and make furniture that is easy to assemble with instructions screen printed directly onto the furniture. Dave Ford's Truck Drawing from Chicago to Philadelphia consisted of hanging plastic bottles with led tips that naturally drew on paper according to the movement of the truck, as he traveled round trip from Chicago to Philadelphia.
It's been two weeks since the Interaction12 conference in Dublin, Ireland. IxDA Dublin Redux events have already been organized and are occurring globally. Attendees continue to tweet and share the abundance of information they absorbed over the course of the four-day conference. Interaction12 consisted of 15 workshops, 6 keynotes, 80 speakers, and several planned activities around Dublin, Ireland. IxDA organizers put together a diverse group of lectures and events throughout the conference for attendees to experience.
To give you an idea of the amount of diversity, talks were categorized into subheadings such as behavior, theory, ecosystems, process, aesthetics, strategy, dialogue and gamification. Most talks were 45 minutes and on the final two days there were 10-minute talks breaking up the larger sessions. The keynote speakers began and ended each day, usually sharing a big picture idea that complimented the other talks programmed throughout that day.
Luke Williams kicked off Day 2, with his eye-opening and inspiring keynote on disruptive thinking, titled "The Disruptive Age: Thriving in an Era of Constant Change". He gave a similar talk at the Design Research conference at IIT, but at Interaction12 he challenged attendees to consider how to disrupt the cliches of interaction design. This was the kind of energy that was contagious throughout the four days of the conference. Not only did Williams inspire and challenge the crowd, but the first slide of his presentation was a common theme for the rest of the conference. He shared a slide of a tweet that he came across the night before his talk that said, "What is interaction design? Oh shit. Here we go..."
This was a common question and discussion throughout Interaction12. It was as if Interaction Design was having an identity crisis. It was an exploratory process where everyone was working together to challenge and discover the capabilities of the discipline. Some attendees even created a humorous video during the conference, "Shit Interaction Designers Say," styled after the "Shit Girls Say" YouTube meme.