"Design Awesomeness"

IDSA DDCs 2017 Offered Something for Everyone

IDSA wrapped up a successful spring conference season with five District Design Conferences from coast-to-coast in 2017—exploring a wide range of design topics. Five new Student Merit Award winners (#IDSASMA) were named across the country, chosen from dozens of school-level winners in each District. Portfolio reviews gave promising designers a chance to get expert advice from professionals.

A cold, rainy weekend didn’t dampen spirits inside as the Northeast District Design Conference 2017: The Unexpected Conference (#IDSANEDDC) took over the Rhode Island School of Design from March 31 to April 1 with a packed schedule and even an unexpected dance party, followed by a flute solo, on center stage! "We came together around design as our shared passion and we left with more friends then we had when we arrived," said Birsel.

Three pre-conference tours took attendees around RISD, College Hill and downtown Providence.

Speakers included Sunand Bhattacharya, IDSA, Autodesk; Associate Professor Charlie Cannon, RISD; Hannah Chung, Sproutel; Justin Cook, Sitra; Theresa Fitzgerald, Sesame Workshop; Matt Glendinning, PhD, Moses Brown School; Mark Guarraia, Ximedica; Mark Huang, director of economic development, City of Providence; Steph Mantis and Tucker Viemeister, FIDSA—who co-taught a product design class at Parson School of Design; Eric Nathan, musician; Patrick Phillips, HereLab; Nick Scappaticci, Tellart; Cordy Swope, Johnson & Johnson; Matt Wade, Google; Peter Haas, Brown University; and Kelly Ramirez, Social Enterprise Greenhouse.

“What a great energy during the portfolio reviews,” wrote Professor Claudia Rebola, who, along with Cannon, helped Birsel organize the conference. “Simply an amazing conference,” declared Jeevak Badve, chair of IDSA’s International Design Conference 2017. “Great weekend full of design awesomeness,” posted Professor Alex Lobos, IDSA, who once again, led an enthusiastic group of Rochester Institute of Technology ID students at the conference.

The conference, which partnered with Boston Design Week, was covered by RISD News.

Central District Design Conference 2017: Innovation Is a Team Sport scored big from March 31 to April 1 at the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning. Attendees learned how to source a team to achieve goals; communicate in the languages of the team; and overcome barriers.

On the speaking roster: Matt Anthony, Cincinnati Made; Nathaniel Berger, Ohio University; Jim Couch, IDSA, designer; Elyse Dierking and Eric Sillies, LPK; UC alum Ryan Eder, IDSA, Include Fitness, and three-time IDSA International Design Excellence Award 2016 winner; Jamison Float, Priority Designs; Symon Harrah, IDSA, FirstBuild; Jordan Hildebrandt, The Garage Group; JL Holdsworth, The Spot Athletics; and Jon Moroney, Tiger Drive. A GE Appliances panel on “Career Advice for Every Designer” featured Aaron Abbott, IDSA; Karen Abney, IDSA; Rebecca Alvord, IDSA; Maggie Bellinger, IDSA; Byron Dollar, IDSA; Marc Hottenroth, IDSA; and Chen Lu, IDSA.

Chair Chris Livaudais kicked off the South District Design Conference 2017: Elevate at The University of Houston with an eye-catching, colorful balloon exercise. “Emerging themes from #IDSASDDC,” he posted. “Teamwork, openness, expanding mindsets and network. My mind is happy and excited for the future.”

A storm stranded a few attendees at airports and made others’ trips longer. The weather kept the chair of IDSA’s Student Special Interest Section Meghan Preiss, S/IDSA, from getting out of the airport, but she kept a watchful eye from afar. “Literally refreshing my Twitter feed every second to look for @IDSA Conference Tweets!! Keep them coming,” she posted. “Quality, deep, motivational, thoughtful—you name it, the 2017 #IDSASDDC Student Merit Awards blew us away. Great work @IDSA,” tweeted Assistant Professor Kevin Shankwiler, IDSA, of Georgia Tech.

Speakers included: Jose Aguilar, māk studio; Benjamin Bush, IDSA, SCAD; Grayson Byrd, IDSA, Dolby Labs; Elvin Chu, IDSA (SDDC 2016 Student Merit Award Winner), Matter; Liz Cordill, māk studio; Jake Eshelman, Side Project Skateboards; Hayley Hughes, IBM; Eddie Licitra, LUNAR Design; John McCabe, IDSA, Aether Learning; Allie Miller, Spark Corps; David Singer, IDSA, IN2 Innovation; and Jeff Smith, IDSA, Autodesk.

"I’m thrilled with the excitement participants brought," said Livaudais. "There was a great energy and this provided a wonderful environment for networking and interaction. Our speaker lineup amazed with exceptional talks covering a wide spectrum of design practice, process and provocation."

University of Oregon-Portland’s historic and state-of-the-art White Stag Block was the site of the West District Design Conference 2017 DESIGN: HYBRID from April 23 to 24. “We are so excited to host these amazing events at UO in Portland for the design community,” Associate Professor Susan Sokolowski told UOAAA News. “There is something for everyone, from the young inspiring designer to the professional."

How do we react in time?” asked Chair Jason Belaire, IDSA. Speakers tackled trending topics such as virtual reality (VR), virtual prototyping (VP), augmented reality (AR) and more. The conference was part of Design Week Portland from April 21-29. "This year’s WDDC was a success in that IDSA was able to bring together the perfect culmination of relevant topics, introduction to future trends on which to capitalize and great networking opportunities,” said Belaire, who received help planning the conference from Kiersten Muenchinger, IDSA, the founding director of the product design program at the University of Oregon.

In the speaking mix: Austen Angell, FIDSA, Modern Edge; Stephan Clambaneva, IDSA, Dassault Systèmes; Long Cheng, Pinterest; Christian Freissler, Evolve Collaborative; Joyce Hsu, Facebook Surround 360; Dickon Isaacs, IDSA, Intuit; Alan Lee, Uber Digital; Ravi Sawhney, FIDSA, RKS Design; Jeff Smith, IDSA, Autodesk; Dylan Urquidi, Unity Labs; Surya Vanka, IDSA, AUTHENTIC; and Markus Wierzoch, Artefact.

Midwest District Design Conference 2017chaired by Marianne Grisdale, IDSA, took over the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD) from April 28 to 29, as attendees explored radical thinking and concepts from a variety of creative disciplines. "Having a fantastic educational institution such as MIAD partner with us really made our conference come alive," said Grisdale. "Our professional-to-student ratio was the best in years along with overall attendance."

Her planning team was led by John Caruso, IDSA, of MIAD, with help from Doug Carpiaux, IDSA, of Distill Product Development and Aaron Scott, IDSA, of Southern Illinois Univeristy.

MIAD welcomed conference-goers with a preview on MIAD News. A pre-conference barbeque sizzled as some enthusiastic students donned Wisconsin "cheeseheads."

Then, two days of talks, featuring: Jennifer Astwood, IDSA, University of Wisconsin-Stout; Julia Burke, Whirlpool; James Caruso, Newell Brands; Joe Ellice, MIAD; Laura Flanigan, More from Less; Liam Hawry, Studio One Eleven; Steve Hyma, Milwaukee Tool; Michael Kahwaji, IDSA, Whirlpool Corp.; Patricia Miller, Matrix 4; Lawrence Murphy, IDSA, GE Healthcare; Joey Nakayama, American Medical Association; Zachary Paradis, SapientRazorfish; Dan Peterson, Edog Consulting; Paul Rowan; Nick Savidge, IDSA, (MWDCC 2016 Student Merit Award Winner) LUNAR; Natalie Schraufnagel, IDSA, PARK USA & Grow USA; Jeff Smith, IDSA, Autodesk; and Chevis Watkinson, Georgia Pacific.

Badve spoke on "Provocative Thinking: Why and How do we Emote It?" and later published his thoughts: "The crowd of 400-plus was engaged in high-level design conversation with many esteemed guests for two days, leaving the Sundberg-Ferar team with new friends and a lot of energy. It was just a fascinating audience to share your stories with."

A fitting way to end the spring conference season, as Ricky Heldt, E-RYT, of Open Lotus Yoga led a session on the final day, overlooking the waterfront outside MIAD.

Check out IDSA event photos and email media@idsa.org if you have images to add to our albums. What did YOU think of the DDCs? Send any comments or suggestions to conferences@idsa.org. Loved what you experienced at a DDC? Registration is open for IDSA's International Conference 2017, set for Aug. 16 to 19 in Atlanta!