In anticipation of the upcoming 2011 Northeast IDSA Conference hosted at RISD April 8–9, we sat down with Marco Perry of Pensa Design and the Northeast District VP to chat about this year's "Design 4" theme, play favorites and get the scoop for a post-IDSA party hangover helper.
BONUS!! Core77 readers can bring four friends to the IDSA conference to get a group discount AND the early bird rate if your register by Friday, March 25th. Keep reading for more details!
Core77: How did you get involved with IDSA NE?
Marco Perry: Ever since I founded Pensa in Brooklyn, I have been looking at ways I could get more involved in the design community—not only to network but to learn from others and to give back what I can. I have found that attending and speaking at regional conferences was a real easy way to get great information, meet interesting people and have a lot fun. After a few years of going to conferences, I was approached by the IDSA to become a board member and run the Northeast conferences, which I have been doing for 2 years now. I find it to be a really rewarding and a tremendous opportunity to get the NE community together.
This year's theme seems focused on design for doing good—healthy planet, community, social good, business growth. Why is 2011 the year for "Design 4"?As the United States begins to claw its way out of the recession, we see businesses ready to ramp up their activity. The challenges we face today are a lot like the ones of the past—how can we grow our business and create compelling products that people want? How can we move from talking about acting responsibly and sustainably to actually being sustainable? Does "doing good" have to be an altruistic financial trade off or can it be an added value? How can we apply our design skills and methods to help those in need?
While these issues are not new, today's designers have the power to go beyond creating better products to affecting businesses strategies. And if that doesn't work, in 2011, it is easier than ever to head out on your own and be a business owner creating better things for people without harming the planet, or better still, work on fixing the world's problems by being a social entrepreneur.
What speaker(s) are you most looking forward to hear from and why?
This question is a little like asking a parent which of their kids is their favorite (by the way—my son is my favorite, except for my daughter, she is also my favorite). What we worked hard on with the speaker lineup is to have people with different points of view and unique content. This year we are grouping speakers under the four section topics (Humans, Healthy Planet, Business Growth, Social Good), and then we have a Q+A panel with all the section's speakers. This way, not only does the audience get to participate, presenters will have the opportunity to engage in a conversation with each other and to expand on points and defend their opinions. I am most looking forward to these panels because these candid and unscripted discussion are often where the really interesting content comes out.
What are some interesting Industrial Design trends/areas of focus that are emerging from ID communities in the Northeast?
The Northeast is bustling with activity. You'll find venture backed entrepreneurs working on market changing technologies, incubators bringing up fledgling businesses, consulting firms promoting their design thinking methods, individuals creating simple yet beautiful aesthetic objects and a lot of well-established corporations working in every market there is. Some continuing trends you see with consultancies and corporations are:
The convergence of different design disciplines into larger projects—whether it's branding and product design, product and interaction design or product and packaging tied into a sustainability initiative. Industrial design does not happen alone and so more design groups are multi-faceted to address project needs.
Project timelines are getting ever faster, but the problems are getting more complex with difficult decisions to be made. So project teams are getting smarter about balancing the trade-offs.
Technology is fueling large corporations but also enabling startups to get funding, build communities of loyal followers, and get the word out about their products and services. Crowd sourcing, out sourcing, open sourcing, DIY, JIT, RP—you can do just about anything today. And the design world tends to be inventive in nature and entrepreneurial in spirit, and so you see a lot of "little guys" putting up serious competition to the "big ol' boys."
What are 5 things participants for the upcoming IDSA NE conference should bring and why?
- Four Friends - This year we are offering a group discount to Core77 readers - 10% if you can get a group of 5 people to register together. But wait! There's more! If you can get a group of 5 people to register by 3/25, you can still get the early bird rate! But you must call IDSA to get the discount Just call Katie Fleger, manager of member relations, at 703.707.6000 ext. 112 with any questions or to register, or call Jill Richardson, membership coordinator at 703-707-6000 ext. 118 and she will get you registered. There is no better way to have fun at these conference than to share the experience with a friend, and together you can make new friends!
- An open mind - no matter if you are a seasoned professional or a student just starting out, there is always more to learn in all the content of this conference.
- Sketch pad - whether its a Moleskine, iPad or the back of the Google Maps directions print out, you'll definitely want to get those new ideas down before they leave your head forever.
- Charm and business cards - you never know who you will meet. It may be someone you've been dying to meet or an extremely interesting person you never knew existed.
- Aspirin and Vitamin B - the parties can be fun...a little too much fun sometimes. You have to be prepared for the ride home on Sunday.