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Posted by core jr  |   7 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)


What are you doing all day on June 19th? Nothing? Wrong. Clear your schedule to make room for the very first Core77 Conference! We're putting together a day-long shindig in Brooklyn featuring some of the most forward-thinking people in the design world talking about how and why they do what they do.

We're finalizing the details now, including a full lineup of speakers, special guests and swag. We've booked a venue with a great vibe, large enough to hold a crowd but small enough so it's easy to meet everyone. Of course, as with any Core77 gathering there will be plenty of food, drinks and music throughout the day and into the evening.

If you're not in the neighborhood, start making your travel plans now so you don't miss out. Tickets go on sale shortly, so keep your eyes here for upcoming announcements.

Posted by Ray  |  24 Mar 2014  |  Comments (1)

DesignIndaba2014-NaotoFukasawa-COMP.jpgClockwise from top: "Demetra" (2013), courtesy of Artemide; "Juice Skin" (2004), photo by Masayoshi Hichiwa; "Twelve" (2005), courtesy of Issey Miyake

It turns out that one of the designers who I was most curious to see was scheduled to be the second to last speaker at the 2014 Design Indaba Conference: Naoto Fukasawa, the master himself. In fact, word on the street was that 'headliner' Stefan Sagmeister himself was not particularly nervous about his own presentation but had reservations about following Fukasawa, with whom he had also shared the stage 11 years ago, at the 2003 Conference.

Following blockbuster talks from Dean Poole and renowned photographer David Goldblatt, Fukasawa got off to a slow start, offering a few terse introductory remarks before screening a slick promo video for the new Integrated Design degree program at Tama Art University, his alma mater, set to open next month. He then proceeded with a lecture-style explanation of his approach, defining terms such as "aesthetics" and James Gibson's notion of "affordance," presenting a series of simple infographics and gestalt tropes to illustrate his own design philosophy of "without thought." (This 2007 Businessweek article is a good primer, as is our interview with him and IDEO's Jane Fulton Suri from last year.)



If skeuomorphism might be construed as a superficial means of expressing functionality, Fukasawa's insights penetrate far deeper, into the heart of the matter—namely, that "the body is more focused than the mind." It is our sub- or preconscious behaviors that inform and inspire his approach to design; insofar as all behaviors are 'learned,' Fukasawa is concerned with those that are not taught. Whereas intution implies a degree of cognition, instinct is the true holy grail of interaction design—subtle but unmistakable cues about how an object is used, as well as its so-called 'fiddle factor.'


Posted by Coroflot  |  19 Mar 2014


Are you ready for a spring season filled with celebration of design thinking and how it impacts successful businesses? The Industrial Designers Society of America announced their annual District Design Conference season with a line up of events that no one should miss. These local and affordable events will cover topics designed to help you meet expanding business demands and take advantage of new opportunities, all while networking and sharing ideas with like-minded design enthusiasts.

To get involved in the IDSA District Design Conferences, here are the important dates and locations:

On April 5th, Denver, CO - The Western District Design Conference: Running with the Bulls will be at the SpringHill Suites Denver Downtown at Metro State.

Also on April 5th, Grand Rapids, MI - The Central District Design Conference: Unfolding Design takes place at Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University.

On April 12th, Savannah, GA - The Southern District Design Conference: Design: Mind. Body. Soul. is being held at the Savannah College of Art and Design.

On April 26th, Chicago, IL - The Midwest District Design Conference: Industrial Evolution takes place at Lane Tech College Prep High School.

On May 15th, New York, NY - The Northeast District Design Conference: Design it. Build it. Fund it. will be held at the Museum of Jewish Heritage.

For more information on the conferences, including pricing and why you should attend, check out their FAQs.

Posted by Ray  |   7 Mar 2014  |  Comments (2)


As these things go, Day One of the 2014 Design Indaba Conference was a bit behind schedule from the get-go. Experimental Jetset acknowledged as much in their regimented presentation that morning: after introducing themselves by way of banter, Marieke Stolk, Erwin Brinkers and Danny van den Dungen explained that they'd be spending the rest of their 40-minutes time slot by sharing their influences from A to Z, spending one minute on each topic. Taking the notion of a timed talk to its logical extreme, the Dutch trio went so far as to include 60-second countdown timers on each slide—a nod, perhaps, to their cerebral approach to graphic design.

EJ-ProvoCrouwel.jpgL: Stolk's parents were founding members of the Provo anarchist movement (’65–’67); R: Invitation for Wim Crouwel: Architectures Typographiques

Of course, it didn't play out that way: Stolk clocked in "Anarchy" in exactly 60 seconds, but from "The Beatles" on, it was clear that the concept was a tad overambitious. (On the other hand, when it seemed that one of them would finish earlier than the 60 seconds on a couple of the letters, he or she would knowingly stretch the explanation.) Still, anyone familiar with their work could have guessed what "H" would be: they've been typecast (in a manner of speaking) as strict Helveticists since their memorable turn in Gary Hustwit's 2007 documentary on the ubiquitous typeface. Adherents to this day, van den Dungen duly noted that "We signed our own death sentence... in Helvetica."


Dean Poole, on the other hand, gushed about letterforms as archetypes; the self-effacing New Zealander's presentation which followed lunch on the third and final day of the conference, was rife on wordplay and visual puns, his understated punchlines deadpanned to a tee. Indeed, language and its mode of mechanical representation figure heavily into his work (where Sagmeister turns things into typography, Poole does the opposite) as the founder of Auckland-based studio Alt Group. Hence his rather more rapid 'characterization' of the letters of the alphabet—set in Futura, if I remember correctly—as ideograms, which, when juxtaposed with the Amsterdammers' ABCs, results in a series of non sequiturs:

EJDP-Alphabets.jpgI didn't catch Dean's versions of "P" and "U" and I haven't been able to get in touch with him; leave a comment if you happen to know what they are...


Posted by Ray  |   6 Mar 2014  |  Comments (0)


For those of us who were a bit groggy from that killer combination of jetlag and one nightcap too many, the first speaker on Day Two of the 2014 Design Indaba Conference was a trip, as though he'd clicked the metaphorical spurs of his boots to transport us not to Kansas but a nearby state. Indeed, DJ (née Doyle Jr.) Stout's talk was vaguely dream-like, featuring sobering statistics about the 2011 Texas wildfires, footage of a cattle drive, a Pecos League baseball team... and, of course, cowboy poetry. Somehow, it was the last bit that tied it all together—and to Stout's personal and professional history: A third-generation Texan, he made his name at Texas Monthly—you can see some of his work in their archive—and has been a partner at Pentagram since 2000. Stout has been based in Austin for most of the 30+ years that he's been working as a designer and he's met some interesting people along the way, including musician Graham Reynolds, who kept him company on stage, performing original piano compositions during the moving video interludes.


If Stout's presentation was as earnest as they come, the final speaker of the conference was rather more tongue-in-cheek with his delivery of what might be described as a well-practiced presentation to a full house last Friday. Stefan Sagmeister should need no introduction (at least not according to MC Michael Bierut) and—even if a refresher would have been nice—he did not provide one, instead commenting on an infinitesimally subtle heat pattern on the projector screen before launching into his popular 'Happy Talk.' Sagmeister has apparently been evangelizing (for lack of a better term) on the topic for at least a few years now, and I heard mixed feedback from conference-circuit veterans who knew better than to expect anything new. He acknowledged as much with a wink and a nod during the climactic sing-along portion of the talk, leading the audience in belting out the line "seen it all on"

Stout-Texas.jpgDJ Stout - L: Poster for the Dallas Society of Visual Communications; R: Promotional poster for Sappi

In short, the presentations were polar opposites. Stout shared an honest exploration of heritage and the pride of place; Sagmeister's pseudo-science project is both the product of and the premise for his various modes of self-expression. Stout is certainly more worldly than he let on in his presentation—he lightened the mood with a few one-liners throughout—but the fact that he spoke in his natural voice, which lacks a discernible Texan accent, only underscored the candidness of his talk. Sagmeister, on the other hand, limited the scope of his presentation to the work in the Happy Show—clever, often quotable, and always beautiful, but somewhat lacking in substance: a dose of visual culture for the here and now.

Sagmeister-Bananawall.jpgSagmeister & Walsh, the Happy Show


Posted by Ray  |   5 Mar 2014  |  Comments (0)



There were just a couple of hints that Thomas Heatherwick would be making major headlines with his presentation at Design Indaba last week, but it would prove to be the highlight of the conference. Nevertheless, the unassuming Londoner scarcely betrayed his nerves as he presented a handful of completed projects and works in progress in the lead-up to the reveal.

His work, for the uninitiated, sounds farfetched or fanciful, even Borgesian at times: A corridor-less, corner-less Learning Hub in Singapore. A flaming floriform sculpture that perfectly symbolizes "E pluribus unum" (made of copper no less), which might just be the coolest Olympic cauldron design ever. A fleet of two-story buildings on wheels, from which "you can't get a better view of London"—a.k.a. the double-decker bus. The Seed Cathedral, which looks like a giant sea creature or koosh ball or a universe that's exploding and imploding at the same time... for which Heatherwick revealed his original inspiration.



Posted by Ray  |   4 Mar 2014  |  Comments (0)


The fact that Jake Barton's work has been woefully absent from these pages—just a couple of mentions in 2008 and a 2011 Core77 Design Awards Notable (and the BIG Heart)—simply means that his presentation at the 2014 Design Indaba Conference is a felicitous occasion to cover the latest from his media design practice, Local Projects.


Barton is a natural presenter—no surprise, given his background in theater—who speaks with a confident, clear cadence on and off the stage. He worked as an exhibition designer prior to attending NYU ITP, where he has taught since he graduated in 2003, and has spent the past decade or so establishing Local Projects (which he founded in 2002) as the premier shop of its kind. While they're billed as a "media design firm for museums and public spaces, Local Projects makes cutting-edge technology accessible and meaningful to a broad audience. Specifically, Barton and his team of designers, technologists, filmmakers and developers create media-enabled experiences at the intersection of design and storytelling—from rich oral histories to simple, intuitive interactions.

The site- and exhibition-specific multimedia elements that the National Design Award-winning firm has designed go far beyond the ho-hum audio guide, offering glimpses of the potential of augmented reality, where the content is seamlessly integrated into the (largely screen-based) media. Most of us have witnessed (or at least heard an account of) a young child attempting to 'swipe' or otherwise manipulate a television as though it is a touchscreen; with Local Projects' displays for the Cleveland Museum of Art, you actually can.


Posted by Ray  |   3 Mar 2014  |  Comments (0)


True to its mission to support young and emerging designers, last Wednesday saw the 2014 Design Indaba Conference offer its stage to seven recent grads hailing from as many design schools. Day One's Pecha Kucha segment featured a well-rounded cadre of new talent across a variety of disciplines in art and design, with each individual presenting a unique body of work with disparate style and appeal.


The Whiz Kid

Mathieu Rivier kicked things off with a straightforward overview of his work as an interaction design student and researcher. Currently an assistant at his alma mater, ECAL, the University of Art and Design in Lausanne, Rivier explores interactive media such as projection mapping and installation art, among other projects. The Swiss native largely let his work, including "LightForm" and "Caveaux Bulles" ("Bubble Cellar", below), speak for itself.


Posted by core jr  |  26 Feb 2014  |  Comments (0)
Content sponsored by the Design Indaba

We've landed in Cape Town, 2014 World Design Capital, for this year's Design Indaba Conference, which kicks off today with the likes of Experimental Jetset, Jake Barton and Thomas Heatherwick, to name a few (and that's just on day one!) and will continue through the rest of the week and weekend with the Expo. Stay tuned for reporting live from South Africa, but in the meantime you can check out Daniel Charny's presentation from last year, in which he covers the "Power of Making" exhibition at the V&A to a more recent project called Fixperts.

Check out the full video →

Posted by core jr  |  25 Feb 2014  |  Comments (0)
Content sponsored by the Design Indaba

One of the great things about the Design Indaba Conference is that it not only sparks conversations but also puts them on center stage. In this short dialogue between Marian Bantjes and Jessica Hische, the two graphic designers cover everything from mentorship to being the "one designer friend," as well as the secret to design success. (Bantjes, who reveals that she is entirely self-taught, is the Jury Captain for the Visual Communication category of the 2014 Core77 Design Awards.)

Check out the full video →

Posted by core jr  |  24 Feb 2014  |  Comments (0)
Content sponsored by the Design Indaba

With this year's Design Indaba Conference kicking off in two days, we've been catching up on some of last year's talks. As always, the organizers have done a great job bringing together an inspired and inspiring mix of artists and designers. A talk by Berlin-based artist and illustrator Christoph Niemann is perhaps the perfect example, and we can't recommend it highly enough. The trailer barely does it justice:

Check out the full video →

Posted by Ciara Taylor  |  12 Feb 2014  |  Comments (0)


What can Interaction Designers learn from other disciplines? At Interaction14, many speakers challenged the community to look at Art, Architecture, Industrial Design, Graphic Design and Animation as a lens for Interaction Design.

Gillian Crampton Smith, Head of the Interaction Design program at University of Venice, questioned if there is a language of interaction design. She shared the ways in which Art and Architecture have distinct languages that can be understood across many cultures. However, Interaction Design lacks the same universally understood common language. Smith mentions the word "design" as being problematic and shared examples of how it is translated and understood in other cultures and languages such as English, French and Italian. Smith discussed the functional limitations of interaction design and how humans interact with computers as proof that we still have a long way to go in defining the language of Interaction Design.

Antonio De Pasquale included this video in his presentation; more on that below

Scott McCloud shared the many ways in which visual storytelling is used and how we are narrative-seeking creatures. He talked about how people create meaning on the fly through visual stimuli. McCloud was very poetic in the way he schooled us on visual storytelling and talked about our medium not being paper and pencils, but instead the knowledge and expectation of our users. He challenged us to think outside of the box, or the screen in this case, and consider how we can guide a user through a story digitally in a non-linear way.


Posted by Ciara Taylor  |   7 Feb 2014  |  Comments (0)


It's a brisk 40 degrees here in Amsterdam as I opt to take a cab instead of walk to the Westergasfabriek, where Interaction14 is being held. The cab pulls up and I am amazed at the beautiful complex chosen for hosting the conference this year. Locals are out for their morning jog with their dog and children along the canal front. As I continued to walk towards the main building for the conference, I took in the scenery of local restaurants, galleries and studios.

The Interaction14 planning committee did an amazing job curating every last detail from the venue space, stage setup and food to make sure attendees experienced the essence of Amsterdam. When I arrived at the venue, local student volunteers eager to provide assistance and kick off the conference greeted me. I continued on to explore the space which had a welcoming vibe filled with couches, picnic tables, DIY nespresso coffee and local goodies from the Netherlands. The stage setups consisted of faux building facades and bicycles, which was a wonderful touch to the presentations.



Posted by core jr  |   7 Feb 2014  |  Comments (0)


Once again, Core77 is pleased to partner with Design Indaba for their annual design/creativity/innovation Conference and Expo in Cape Town, South Africa, which has quickly grown to a week-long celebration of all things creative. As the biggest design event in the country, continent and hemisphere where it takes place, Design Indaba has firmly established itself as a progressive platform for artists and designers of all persuasions, as diverse as its locale even as the event attracts a global audience.

So much more than a "how-to" conference, this is a forum fuelled by inspiration that breeds ideas, ingenuity and innovation. Creativity is our currency and a better future our agenda. The Conference is your opportunity to learn from and be inspired by the world's foremost creatives, thought leaders, entrepreneurs and trendsetters. It's the not-to-be-missed creative inspiration event of the year, the perfect way to kickstart 2014.


This year's speakers include: Jake Barton, Lauren Beukes, El Ultimo Grito, Naoto Fukasawa, Experimental Jetset, David Goldblatt, Thomas Heatherwick, David Higgs, Tom Hulme, Margot Janse, Nandipha Mntambo, Zanele Muholi, Ije Nwokorie, Michel Rojkind, Dean Poole, Stefan Sagmeister, Scholten & Baijings, Marcello Serpa, DJ Stout and Clive Wilkinson.

As usual, Design Indaba's media team is producing tons of excellent video content—here is a video of the highlights from last year's event:


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   9 Dec 2013  |  Comments (1)


This is the second part of Hipstomp's reporting from the inaugural Autodesk CAVE Conference, which took place in conjunction with their annual Autodesk University event last week in Las Vegas. See Part One here.

Following Tibbits' talk, the entirety of the CAVE conference attendees filed into a ballroom at The Venetian to see a rare presentation from the legendary Syd Mead. (Mead will typically not travel in December to give presentations, but he relented for CAVE, a testament to the conference's attractiveness.) At 80 years of age, Mead has the killer combination of a lifetime's worth of experience and an irreverent, devil-may-care veteran status that allows him to say whatever the hell he wants; I won't name the Hollywood stars or clients he skewered in passing asides, but I will say his stories were funny.


More importantly, we were treated to a narrated slideshow of Syd Mead images projected onto a gi-normous screen so that we could see every detail, every dot of gouache. And of course there was Mead himself to explain the thinking behind the vehicles and sets of Blade Runner, how he's managed to "future-proof" his concepts—making futuristic sketches from the 1960s still appear futuristic today—and showing us the sketches (and exact drawing) that got him the job on Elysium.

SydMead.jpgSyd Mead artwork, courtesy of BravinLee Gallery

It was during Mead's presentation that CAVE started to come full circle for me, and I began to see the light. Mead was discussing one of his more technical renderings for Honda, and as he went in-depth, explaining the drawing's composition, content and framing, it echoed what Louis Gonzales was discussing that morning. Gonzales is a storyboard artist and Mead an industrial designer, so the terminology and context was a little different; but the principles they were discussing were precisely the same. Whether you are Gonzales, Robertson, Gaiman, Tibbits or Mead, you are creating something and attempting to convey ideas to others. The brilliance of CAVE is to get all of these creative bodies into the same space, and to allow us attendees to connect those dots.


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   9 Dec 2013  |  Comments (1)


As we reported back in August, at this year's Autodesk University they decided to try something different, kicking the conference off with a sort of pre-conference focused on "creative talent from multiple disciplines." The idea behind this new Autodesk CAVE Conference was to assemble some of the finest artists, designers and storytellers around and throw them into the same event in the hopes of yielding an entertaining and informative cross pollination.

With such a nebulous description, I didn't know what to expect. But now, having attended, I'm here to tell you the event was a rousing success—everything it was billed to be and more—and that you must check it out next year!

The speaker list was an embarrassment of riches, and the packed schedule meant I'd only get to attend three sessions. Unable to decide which to attend first, my mind was quickly made up for me: I walked past an open door and heard the distinctly rapid-fire Bronx patter—of someone passionately discussing the movie Dumbo. Before I knew it my legs had brought me into the packed room where not a single seat was available.


The man presenting was Louis Gonzales, an animator and storyboard artist for Pixar. (If you don't know his name, you know his work: Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, et cetera.) Gonzales is both a gifted artist and a student of story, and his childlike enthusiasm for Dumbo's tale was coupled with a trenchant, technical analysis of how certain scenes were framed, and why they create particular kinds of emotional punch. Just as it began dawning on the audience that there was way more packed into Dumbo than the story of an elephant with big ears, Gonzales took us through a comprehensive slideshow of movies both classic and contemporary—his knowledge of film and film visuals is encyclopedic—showing us the insane level of construction and forethought that the creators had put into every frame. Before a single word is spoken by any of the characters, information is conveyed via lines, triangles, squares, circles, lighting, color.

After seeing script pages for Brave that Gonzales had covered in his red-ink notes, and him explaining what visual elements he knew he had to inject into particular scenes and why, I don't think I'll ever look at film or animation the same way again. I've been watching movies my entire life, and in the mere 55 minutes I saw Gonzales speak, he completely changed my perspective on visual presentation. And these were lessons anyone creating industrial design renderings could have drawn from.


Next came the keynote presentation, where we were treated to both Angelo Sotira's story of how he started up DeviantArt followed by a chat from the wonderfully weird Neil Gaiman. Gaiman began his talk by explaining how the Chinese government had traditionally frowned upon science fiction, as that genre is often used to obliquely criticize institutional flaws, then recounted how they eventually relented and invited him to speak at their first-ever sci-fi convention. Intensely curious as to how this had happened, Gaiman tracked down the party official in charge of this action and asked him why sci-fi had suddenly been given the green light. "We [the Chinese] make everything," the Chinese official explained, referring to his country's manufacturing base, "but we don't invent anything." Science fiction, it had been decided by the party bosses, would be an effective way to stimulate the imaginations of Chinese youth, whom they hoped would subsequently provide original thought for the next generation of manufacturing.


Posted by core jr  |  15 Nov 2013  |  Comments (0)


Reporting by Chris Beatty; photographs courtesy of The New School

Last Friday at Parsons the New School for Design, Derek Porter, Director of the School's Lighting Design Program, and Matthew Cobham of Philips brought together a diverse group of researchers, architects, and lighting designers to discuss the nuanced juncture between natural and man-made lighting.

"Luminous Talks: Nature and Man-Made" kicked off with a look at research into the fundamentals of light perception, presented by Dr. Raymond Van Ee, a professor of neurology and a research fellow at Philips whose work examines the importance of light in creating the optimal conditions for maintaining attention.

LuminousTalks-COMP.jpgClockwise from top left: Matthew Cobham; Raymond Van Ee; Davidson Norris; George Craford

Next, we heard from George Craford, an early pioneer of LED lighting technology who worked with Nick Holonyak to bring LED's from industrial switchboards to car headlights, a feat once described as impossible by the Wall Street Journal. Craford explained that while 'a photon is still a photon' no matter where it comes from, there are a couple of key ways to quantify the quality of light. The main system in use today is the Color Rendering Index (CRI) which measures the reflection of a light source as it bounces off 15 unique color chips. The CRI of an incandescent light bulb is a shown by broad curve which reaches its peak with the reflection of yellow light. The CRI of fluorescent lighting is spiked with multiple peaks, its phosphors were actually engineered maximize its results on this score.


Posted by Sam Dunne  |  14 Nov 2013  |  Comments (1)


Have we reached Peak Design? Plotted on Gartner's hype cycle, the design industry's ascendance from relative obscurity to C-suite sweetheart may be said to have slipped over a peak of inflated expectations some years ago. Should we be wary, we might wonder, of a dip into disillusionment? Certainly, the days of business and political leaders pontificating on the virtues of its practice and processes from up high are over. But the trend towards inaugurations of talismanic 'CDOs' in a handful of enlightened organisations might suggest otherwise.

The perils of becoming just another boardroom 'fad that failed' have been foretold [PDF]; in recent years, the grand promises of foolproof processes and silver-bullet problem-solving have distracted from more balanced debate on the role design can play within business. Whilst design sits higher than ever on the business agenda, has a legacy of overblown promises—ultimately impossible to live up to—been left behind?

Meanwhile, last week's (long overdue?) must-read Design Council report on design-led business [PDF], underscores the sticky and at times paradoxical reality of attempting to prove design's value, alongside compelling anecdotal advocacy from influential business leaders. More strong leadership of this sort will be required in the long run, if design is to convert those still loyal to the short-term bottom line. The breadth and depth of any cynical sinkhole (at a macro or individual case level) will be determined by the ability of design leaders to debunk their practise of tired myths, share compelling success stories—beyond the obvious and omnipotent Apple and tech startups—and build new strategic skillsets [PDF] around existing strengths.

Enter the provocatively named Design Authority, a new collaboration between international design leaders practicing within the corporate realm.



Posted by core jr  |  11 Nov 2013  |  Comments (0)


Last month, hundreds of design students gathered at Rochester Institute of Technology for the second consecutive Thought at Work design conference. Organized by an ambitious team of design students, the weekend of October 18–20 not only held more events but doubled the attendance of the previous year. This student organization exemplifies the power of ambition and reaching past the typical student experience.

Reporting by John Leavitt

Last year, Thought at Work hosted 205 students from eight universities. Kyle Sheth, one of the lead coordinators said, "I was pleased with the attendance in 2012, as a start-up event, but I'd like to double our reach this year." This is exactly what they did. Students from schools including Syracuse University, Columbus College of Art and Design, Ohio State, and University of the Arts and coming together to make over 400 participants from 16 Universities attending nearly 60 events in a single weekend! Katie Young from Columbus College of Art and Design said, "The lecturers were very inspiring. This event opened my eyes to the expansive world of design."

Throughout the conference, there were presentations by professionals from a wide range of design fields and inspirational talks by great keynote speakers. "I had a great experience and was inspired by many of the design professionals who came in to present, commented Zach Stringham from Syracuse University. Bradley G. Munkowitz, a.k.a. GMUNK, gave an exciting and inspirational talk about his incredible work and finding happiness in life, packing Ingle Auditorium to its capacity of 507 people. GMUNK's energy was grounded by the grace of Pattie Moore's lecture on human centered design for all ages. Students and instructors alike were excited to see Spencer Nugent host a sketching workshop. Lynnsey Oberg from Columbus College of Art and Design wrote and told us, "Each and every workshop I attended was a learning experience even if it didn't pertain to my major or interests. I've already applied things I've learned to the work I'm currently working on." Other workshops were hosted by designers from companies such as Microsoft, Autodesk, B-Reel, Smart Design, Storyline, and the Raymond Corporation.




Posted by erika rae  |  28 Oct 2013  |  Comments (0)

Xlab-Recap-Lead.jpgPhotos courtesy of SEGD

Xlab is a one-day themed conference (this year's being "Experience + Interaction in Public Spaces") led by the Society for Environmental Graphic Design—an entire day that will leave you with a tension headache, a rough bout of writer's cramp (or carpal tunnel) and mental fatigue. But, believe it or not, those are all good things.

The annual event took place last Thursday, October 24, at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens—a fitting location for the conference, with its modern architecture and attention to user interaction through projected images and user-focused exhibits. The day orbited around five different sessions with two speakers featured at each. The guests of honor included (among many others) Anthony Townsend, author of Smart Cities; Jeff Grantz, founder and creative technologist of Materials&Methods and one of the architects/artists behind New York's Nuit Blanche; and J. Meejin Yoon, an installation architect who was featured at the Athens Olympic Games. For a one-day conference, the speaker list was quite stacked—I have to admit that it may have worked better as a longer event. The 15-minute "networking sessions" just didn't do much for me in terms of clearing my head.

For the sake of brevity and in the honor of not boring you with every single personal revelation I experienced/witnessed, I'll share the moments and speakers that stood out the most for me—whether it was for their passionate and prideful tears (big, strong creative technologists have feelings, too) or their insight into the world of spatial interactive design.

Xlab-Speakers-2.jpgPhoto courtesy of Vijay Mathews

"The future started five years ago."

This could have been the tagline for the event. Speaker Anthony Townsend—the research director at the Institute for the Future in New York—was the one with these wise words. His reasoning? "In 2008, more people lived in cities than in rural areas, there was more mobile broadband connections than fixed, and more 'things' were connected than people—you know, like when that grad student hooked his toaster up to Twitter." It's a thought that caught me off-guard and got me thinking: So what's next? Our spaces are getting smaller and we're finding more ways to connect with each other and our environment. Where does it all culminate? Later on in the day, another speaker took on this idea—intentional or not, it pulled some thoughts together perfectly.


Posted by Mark Vanderbeeken  |  22 Oct 2013  |  Comments (0)

westergasfabriek_1903.jpgWestergasfabriek - The administration of the Western Gas Factory in front of the newly constructed main gas container building, 1903

Interaction14, the next highly acclaimed interaction design conference, is 100 days away. Moreover, the event, which is organized by the Interaction Design Association (IxDA), will take place in the lovely city of Amsterdam.

We asked the two conference chairs, Alok Nandi and Yohan Creemers, to tell us more about what has been planned.

Core77: Interaction14 will be in Amsterdam in a few months. What will be different from the previous editions?

Alok Nandi & Yohan Creemers: This will be the 7th edition of the annual conference and the second time it takes place outside North America (in 2012 the conference was held in Dublin). The upcoming edition will definitely be the most international yet, as it is the first time the conference will be held in a non-English speaking city.

Our vision is to make sure that there are dimensions specific to Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and Europe. Otherwise, why travel and come here?

So the first answer to your question is the city, the location. It will be different, but we are hard at work to make the attendees feel they are at home, in a creative city, and that they have the space to experience Amsterdam for its own sake.

The second answer is that there will be more non-Americans, both in terms of speakers, and most probably also in terms of attendees. The upcoming Interaction14 conference showcases in other words how global IxDA has become.

In terms of content and experience, our team wants to make sure to cater to different types of attendees, from the ones looking for inspiration to those wishing to connect and be part of the community, and from the newcomers to the regulars. Very early on, we actually created five personas to bring the typical attendees to life, and they have guided all our planning.

Finally, this year we also want to find ways to better engage the 50,000+ members of IxDA members worldwide. The 4-day experience of the 850 conference attendees and the knowledge that is generated should ripple back to this community.

You have recently announced all six keynote speakers: Peter Greenaway, Irene Au, Daniel Rosenberg, Saskia Sassen, Scott McCloud and Gillian Crampton Smith. What was your logic in selecting them?

The guiding 'theme' we gave to the conference is "Languages of Interaction Design." We want to see the theme in a very large, inspirational sense. Clearly, it is not about linguistics, but about exploring the diversity and hybridity of our practice(s) and craft(s) while getting inspired by other disciplines. So, if we think of terms like conceiving, connecting, engaging, empowering, optimizing, disrupting and expressing—which, by the way, are the six IxDA Awards categories—how can the attendees benefit from two types of content: those provided by keynote speakers and those by our community based on a call for speakers?

In the end, we wanted to shortlist different types of topics and points of view. Initially our list of potential speakers was very long, but the conference theme and the overall motto of IxDA—"Interaction Designers create compelling relationships between people and the interactive systems they use, from computers to mobile devices to appliances; Interaction Designers lay the groundwork for intangible experiences"—allowed us to narrow it down.

Storytelling, urban design, education and enterprise were some keywords we had included explicitly in our roadmap, and these topics were brought to life through the five personas that I mentioned earlier.

We think these six speakers offer a balance between different points of view, inspiration sources, expertise and experience in various fields connected to interaction design. The keynote speeches will of course be taking place in a context of talks provided by 50+ speakers.


Posted by Gloria Suzie Kim  |  21 Oct 2013  |  Comments (0)

Homeplus-viaBrandSugar.jpgWoman shopping for groceries in South Korea at a HomePlus display using her mobile phone

Earlier this month, Adaptive Path held the Service Experience conference in San Francisco, CA. The conference invited designers and business leaders who are out there 'in the trenches' to share insights, tips, and methods from their case studies in service design.

Service Design is an emergent area of design thinking that's been percolating in design circles for many years. Though corporate brands like Apple, Nike, P&G and Starbucks have built their success on the principles of good service design, it's an approach getting more serious consideration in countries like the U.S. after years of being developed in Europe.

Service Design, Service Experience, or Consumer Experience is a design approach that understands that the process by which a product is made and the organization that produces it, not only affects the product, but also defines the experience of the product. Service Design is made up of many ecosystems, including a company's own internal culture, their approach to production and development, as well as the context of the product as it exists in the day to day life of the users. Think about how Apple represents not only the product, but also customer service combined with the branded architectural experience of the Apple store. Or how Tesla motors is not only considering the product (an electric vehicle) but also mapping out a plan for a network of electric charging stations in California.

Service Design is a holistic system that takes into consideration the end to end experience of a product, whether it be a car, a computer, a trip, or a book. It is invested in creating the infrastructure that supports and empathizes with human needs by prioritizing people and experiences over technology during the design process. Service design is a design approach that can be applied across fields.

Swimming in Culture

A key perspective of Service Design is the ability to grasp organizational culture. Ever wonder why you had a great time working for one company and another company, not so much? Maybe it's not all 'in your head': According to keynote speaker David Gray of Limnl, culture is a summation of the habits of a group, and that "people swim in culture the way fish swim in water," using the analogy of dolphins and sharks.

culturemap3.jpgIllustration from David Gray's presentation. (People may prefer to self-identify as a dolphin rather than a shark.)

In order to change culture, one must be able to find its foundation first. Ask dumb questions, talk to the newbies, gather evidence, and the evidence (what you see) usually leads to levers (how and why decisions are made and the protocol used) which leads to the company values (the underlying priorities and what's considered important) that uncover foundational assumptions (how they view the way the world works and what is the reasoning behind those values).

dividedcompany.jpgSketchnote courtesy of Kate Rutter /


Posted by core jr  |  26 Aug 2013  |  Comments (0)


This past weekend was the occasion for the annual IDSA International Conference, the premier professional development and networking event for Industrial Designers practicing in the States... and, as Conference Chair Paul Hatch noted, increasingly from abroad as well. The ever-self-deprecating Founder of Teams Design MC'd the lecture sessions, as noted sketchnote-taker Craighton Berman busily filled several posterboards with his pithy yet expressive doodles. "It's been while since I have been to an industrial design-specific conference," he writes on his blog, "So it was interesting to step back into the industry conversation."

CraightonBerman-IDSA2013-Sketchnotes-1.jpgClick for full-size image

Friday morning started with Brooklyn-based Ben Hopson—who we'd recommended for gainful employment some years ago—who has established a niche in what he calls "kinetic design," which has traditionally been the domain of engineers (as opposed to designers, who define the formal language but not necessarily the moving parts). Leading with the example of the highly articulated output paper tray of a Canon printer, Hopson demonstrated how a designer might approach the problem precisely by applying his or her sketching skills in three dimensions in order to "make sure they look like how they move and move like how they look."

Origami is certainly a reference point, but the kinetic experiments (which Hopson teaches at Pratt) perhaps better construed as three-dimensional pop-up books. "Today, we are beginning to gesture at our artifacts," he noted. "And they will eventually begin to gesture at us." [Ed note: Hopson has also explored the topic at length in an essay here on Core.]


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  26 Aug 2013  |  Comments (1)


Autodesk's Chris Cheung is one of the key people responsible for bringing you SketchBook Pro, which was pretty much a gamechanger for ID sketching. Now, together with Autodesk's Media & Entertainment manager Shawn Hendriks, he's providing another new experience for designers: The upcoming CAVE Conference, aimed at "artists, designers and storytellers," and boasting speakers like Syd Mead, rendering god Scott Robertson, Pixar Art Director Jay Shuster and Monty Python's John Cleese. Where else are you going to hear people like this speaking at the same event?

We caught up with Chris for a little background on who he is, what he does, and on what you'll find at the CAVE, which is scheduled on the front end of this year's Autodesk University (held every December in Las Vegas).

Core77: What is your work background?
Chris Cheung: I graduated with a degree in Industrial Design and this is how I originally got into software. After graduating, I was really interested in 3D modeling and visualization, so I invested in taking courses to learn Alias. That was a huge pivot in my career that lead me to taking a job with Alias. It was crazy because suddenly I was working in cutting-edge high tech creating design solutions for product, automotive and entertainment professionals. This was actually my first practical experience where it became apparent how significant the overlap is across creative domains, in respect to creativity, technically and emotionally.

What's your official title at Autodesk?
I'm a Product Line Manager, so I am responsible for driving product initiatives for SketchBook Pro and other projects related to digital art tools.

And what are some of the things that you do for your job that aren't obvious from the title?
It's actually a pretty good title, meaning, since I am managing a piece of the business, I can get my grubby little fingers on many aspects of our products. I like to think of a 'product' in a broad sense, so I tend to think a lot about tangential aspects to users' experiences or even things that drive their perception. In this manner, things like communities, collaborating on adjacent projects, and events become important extensions for me.

What was your involvement with SketchBook Pro?
Even though I've only been the actual Product Manager for SketchBook for the last 5 years, I have a deeper history with the drawing tech that pre-dated the introduction of SketchBook in 2000 with the first introduction of the tablet PC. The original technology was created years before and only worked on IRIX workstations. Drawing and sketching digitally has always been an important component, so it was among the things I worked on in tandem with 3D tools. Back in the day, it was a big deal to get a stroke to draw fast enough so that it gave an authentic experience to a traditional designer. It is kind of funny now, especially after getting that same engine working on the iPhone and Android smartphones in 2009. I feel pretty lucky to have been part of these evolutionary milestones in the technology of an activity that I've always loved since being a kid: DRAWING!


Posted by core jr  |   1 Aug 2013  |  Comments (1)


The IDSA International Conference is just under three weeks away, and if you have yet to make plans to be in Chicago from August 21–24, we strongly suggest you do so ASAP. As always, the lineup of speakers is pretty stacked, and while we've crossed paths with many of this year's speakers over the years, the IDSA keeps it fresh with the likes of, say, Paralympian Blake Leeper. Similarly, we were interesed to see Dr. Vijay Kumar's name among the presenters. I'd been curious about his work ever since the first video on "A Swarm of Nano Quadrotors" hit the web over a year and a half ago—check it out:

The research, at UPenn's General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception Lab (GRASP for short), has come a long way since then, but Dr. Kumar noted that there is still a long way to go. After spending a recent sabbatical at the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy, he will continue his research in robotics—specifically, swarm dynamics. His recent TED Talk illustrates the latest developments in his research on aerial robo-collaboration:

Dr. Kumar promises to deliver a "more technical" presentation at the Hyatt Regency Chicago on Thursday, August 22, where he'll share the latest developments on "Tiny Flying Robots":

There are a number of labs and schools across the globe that have been experimenting with autonomous quadrotors—small flying robots that communicate with each other. They have already accomplished a number of seemingly difficult tasks, like juggling balls or building a tower. Given the ability to hover and fly, sense objects and communicate, there are already a thousand creative tasks they could perform.

Conversely, Dr. Kumar has long rejected the common mischaracterization of UAVs as drones, and vice versa, echoing former Air Force Chief General Norton Schwartz's comment that these unmanned aircraft are, in fact, piloted. "This is one distinction that's quite sharp that I'd like to make: the drones that we hear about in the press are actually remotely-piloted vehicles; they're not drones, they're human-driven. So this is a misnomer, and the press really should not be using that [term to describe them]."


Once he had cleared the air (so to speak), Dr. Kumar proceeded to share his thoughts on the real-world applications of swarms of autonomous quadrotors.

Core77: This is a conference for industrial designers, but you are an engineer by training and trade. What lessons do you hope to impart on the design community?

Dr. Vijay Kumar: Design is a broad thing—I suspect that [Conference attendees] are primarily interested in designing physical things, and I think if there's one thing that's changed, design is no longer about the physical thing. Every physical thing has software embedded in it, [so now,] when you think about design, you want to consider co-designing the software piece and the hardware piece. Smartphones, for example, already incorporate a lot of that—thinking about the user interface—which is an important new direction.


Posted by core jr  |   1 Jul 2013  |  Comments (0)

chicago-sunrise-HDR-crop.pngChicago sunrise skyline: Mile 6 by Jeffrey Barry

Remember how excited you were when you saw the Speaker line-up for the 2013 IDSA International Conference? And what about how the Program Schedule led you to cancel a couple of existing plans between August 21st and 24th?

If you're looking forward to attending the conference to soak up all the rule-breaking, game-changing goodness it has to offer, but haven't gotten around to registering yet, now is the time to do it! Regular registration for this must-attend event is ending in just 20 days, or July 20th, to be more specific. After that day, prices start to rise, along with a gentle feeling of regret you may get for not signing up earlier.

For those of you who are new to the IDSA Conference and Organization, signing up to become an IDSA Member when you register for the conference saves you $500 instantly and gives you all the benefits of membership. How's that for a win-win?

All the information you need about registering and attending the conference can be found here on the IDSA Conference website. Now that you have all the reasons to register and no more excuses, what are you waiting for?