Several people from our team attended the 2012 Midwest IDSA Conference in Chicago this past weekend. The event, with the theme Exploring Creative Fusion, included a diverse group of creative professionals and students, inspirational speakers, and informational workshops. The conference was focused around the evolving connections between the designer, client, and consumer and how they are all central to the design process.
One of our favorite presenters was Pam Nyberg from Thrive. She spoke about the importance of understanding processes from the perspective of multiple audiences and applying appropriate frameworks throughout the design process to chart new experiences. One of the most important points she made was that, as designers, it is important that we capture the emotional along with the rational. Design is no longer just about creating beautiful objects, but also about the flexibility and power of the experience journey.
Walter Herbst, from Herbst Produkt, spoke about the differences in methodology of design according to the size of the client. Clients larger than $50 million will require a different management style than privately held or smaller firms. For instance, these firms may want research conducted at every stage of the design process to ensure the product or service will meet their needs and provide a profitable ROI. In order to achieve success, the design organization must understand these demands and alter their management style and process according to them.
Elizabeth Gerber, from Northwestern University, shared her view on the Design-It-Together (DIT) Movement. Through work practices, extracurricular design-based learning, and by leveraging social media, people are able to create things together and make an impact on the community.
Jenn Schiffman and Defne Civelekoglu, both of gravitytank, focused on the design research process and how they approach concept testing as “concept shaping”—where the client, designer, and researcher work collaboratively to build and shape ideas. It allows them to design the entire experience, from the environment to the interactions.
One of them most inspirational talks of the weekend was from Larry Keeley of Doblin Inc. He stressed the importance of “doing” and not just talking. He used examples based on current war strategies and said that being analytical doesn’t necessarily matter as much as creating tangible answers. It was an invigorating talk that makes you want to take action.
Ken Dowd of Teague explained the research strategy implemented to create a new travel experience from the ground up with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. In this case, it wasn’t about the product, but about creating a great experience. The goal was to design an environment that would make every flight as memorable as a traveler’s first.
Joe Garceffa of IDEO spoke about the company’s “Culture of Play” and the importance of getting everyone involved to inspire creativity. This is something we value at Beyond Design and feel that it is important to bring in other disciplines to influence the creative process and provide additional insight.
Stephen Melamed led one of the workshops we attended called Introduction to Lego Serious Play. Through the workshop, we explored the relationships and connections between people and their worlds in new ways through Legos. Lego Serious Play is based on the idea that everyone within an organization can contribute to the discussion, solutions, and outcomes. Based on research, this kind of hands-on, minds-on learning produces a deeper, more meaningful understanding of the world and its possibilities.
Overall, it was a very informative event with a lot of great industry leaders in attendance and an influential message on exploring creative fusion. Congratulations to Ryan Geraghty from Notre Dame for being named the 2012 IDSA Midwest Merit Award Winner!