We didn't get to all of it, but Friday morning had some great speakers. Coca-Cola Design Director Moira Cullen's deck was so good that people were snapping pictures of every slide. Michael Hendrix, from Tricycle, was an inspiration, taking the audience through the genesis and follow-through of his simulated carpet samples. Scott Williams, CCO of Starwood Hotels, urged us to "execute the obvious," targeting the redesign of the hotel bed and the shower as low hanging fruit. Method's Kevin Farnham and Autodesk's Shane Brentham presented in tandem, providing an instructive, real-world lesson on how to maintain an 8-year business + design relationship. (They're on-stage naggings were just for show.) More after the jump, and pics of Blu Fom found in the wild (literally across the isle!)
Among the various sub-themes of the GAIN Conference was the one overriding: That design has finally arrived at the big boys' table, and that, indeed, good design is good business. We saw slides of the Time, Newsweek, BusinessWeek and FastCompany cover stories a couple of times, and various folks were on hand to help us understand how to work with companies, push companies, and maybe even infiltrate companies.
Tom Kelly was a great moderator (apparently his first time, if you can believe it), asking smart follow-up questions and entertaining the crowd between speakers. Saturday morning was also a treat, with Roger Martin providing a most cogent, enlightened, and (damn) useful presentation on "Designing in Hostile Territory." Here he laid bare the fundamental differences and tensions between the "reliability" folks (business people), and "validity" folks (designers). They don't speak the same language, have the same metrics, value the same things, or view risk in the same ways. Martin offered 5 solutions: 1. Take 'Design-Unfriendliness' as a Design Challenge; 2. Empathize with the 'Design-Unfriendly Elements'; 3. Speak the Language of Reliability; 4. Use Analogies and Stories; and 5. Bite Off as Little a Piece as Possible to Generate Proof. The guy was as good as they say.
LiAnne Yu, from Cheskin, took us through a great case study--transplanting Pollo Campero, a homegrown Guatemalan chicken restaurant franchise to China. She covered all the bases, pulling incredible insights through the ethnography, and the attendees right along with them. And then Ji Lee wrapped up the morning with his Bubble Project, showing highlights and winking beneath an Elvis hairdo. (Yup, what he's doing is still technically illegal. Whatever.)