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.
The engagement and conversation spilled over into lunchtime. The tables were set up with a bowl of Legos in the center with post-it notes with the phrases "let's play" and "build something." Attendees chatted while they ate and then played with Legos while conversing with one another.
You are probably wondering about the actual talks. The speakers contributed to the energy and experience by presenting interactive talks, giving the audience an opportunity to connect and participate. Attendees were engaged from the moment they walked through the door to the moment they went home, to the hotel, or none of our beeswax! There will be more details highlighting the speakers as well as their insights over the next couple of days so stay tuned!
Ciara studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and received a BFA with an emphasis in Designed Objects. She is a conceptual designer whose interests include user interaction and social behavior in online gaming, and how they can inform the physical world and the design of tangible objects. Her work focuses on identity, human interaction, and virtual environments, exploring the relationship that people develop with the real world and the virtual.