#WDDC16 Inspires Empathy Driven Solutions

IDSA’s 2016 West District Design Conference (#WDDC@16), held April 1–2, 2016 at Metropolitan State University of Denver spoke to DESIGN:GIFT Empathy Driven Solutions—with attendees hearing the message loud and clear.

"The conference proved to be far more inspirational than anticipated,” says Chair Jason Belaire, IDSA, who also serves as West District VP on IDSA’s Board of Directors. “Sandwiched between a star struck audience eating up every word that Kyle Maynard had to say about No Excuses in his keynote address—to a Student Merit Award presenter wearing white Chanel fur boots with embedded, programmable, LED mood lighting—to experiencing Giving Back in honor of Nohemi Gonzalez of California State University–Long Beach by way of a Design Swarm (sponsored by IDSA Rocky Mountain Chapter)—we truly had an all-star lineup.”

Belaire says strategically, each presentation "was intended to build for attendees' material inspiration; true understanding of empathy; humanity; and career-building tactics in order to reach their fullest potential. This year’s WDDC16 was a great success!”

Conference-goers couldn’t agree more. “It was a true learning experience for me. It taught me new perspectives and definitions of design and challenged some of my pre-conceived notions about empathy  and what it means to designers of today and tomorrow,” says Matthew Juntunen, S/IDSA, of Rally Design, Inc., who studied industrial design @MSUDenver. “I’m inspired to learn and listen to speakers like Maynard. These motivational forces who encourage accountability and empower a positive attitude are pivotal in a successful designer’s embodiment.”

He adds, “I’m proud to be a part of a community that strives to change themselves in order to impact the people, community and world of design that we have the responsibility to influence. I look forward to many more opportunities to attend and participate when possible in the continued efforts that IDSA brings. Thank you for the organization of the event and for gathering such great speakers as well as doing a terrific job hosting. I look forward to next year!”

IDSA made the connections. “The speakers you brought in—WOW. Life changing and inspirational,” says Kaitlynn Brown, S/IDSA, who also just graduated from MSU Denver. “I enjoyed such diversity in different branches of design and business. Whipsaw is one of the companies I am trying to prepare a portfolio for; I was super stoked to see Greg Aper. It was great to see how he thinks and that he cares deeply. It was a great sneak peek into the company culture and people.”

“Congratulations on putting together another great conference and with such style! Great MC work, funny, too!” posted Paul Hatch, IDSA, of TEAMS Design. “Had a great time at #WDDC16. Although I did feel a bit of an ID-IOT (#industrialdesigner of #IoT).” After all, @PaulHatch1 delivered a talk on UX and the ID-IoT.

“Proud to have helped Damien Vizcarra of (@Continuum) build a killer presentation for @IDSA #WDDC16 on design hybrids and #empathy,” tweeted @AllisonRyder of Nike.

“Loved every second!” wrote Farrell Calabrese,IDSA, (@FMCalabrese) of Eastman Innovation Lab, powered by Eastman Chemical—an IDSA Ambassador. Calabrese served as a judge during SMA presentations and kicked off #WDDC16 with her session on Why #MaterialsMatter. “Materials are at the center of the user experience with a brand,” she declared. Eastman Innovation Lab, an IDSA Career Path Partner, also sponsored the Portfolio Review to help students put their best designs forward.

MSU Denver Student Adam Fiala, S/IDSA, was among the presenters. He's now being featured on the university's website. Tanner Wills, S/IDSA, from Arizona State University is the West District SMA winner. The senior who's graduating May 2016 featured the projects: Zye arthritis-friendly cookware; Legacy hybrid jigsaw; and Joey baby carrier. "It's an unbelievable feeling to be recognized for such an amazing award, but at the end of the day, none of this would have been possible if not for the support of my talented peers, and most importantly, my incredible parents Tim and Heidi."

The social media buzz continues for #WDDC16: “Awesome prizes, even better speakers! Big fun!” posted @JasonGifford, VP of R&D/Design at Samsonite. He also posted on LinkedIn that it was "truly inspirational" to attend. "So much great student work (I'm jealous) and the speakers were all mind- and soul-expanding. Highlight was the collaborative Design Swarm where I met new friends and perhaps formed the future rock star design agency known as Moldy Bread Productions! Kudos to all the participants. Reco to all professionals: attend your next conference to shake off the corporate crusties. And always love seeing great, soft goods up there with the other product categories!"

'Fantastic story teller, filmmaker, graphic designer,” wrote Belaire of Doug Wilson (@realDougWilson maker of @linotypefilm). Wilson tweeted, “Excited to speak about storytelling to a bunch of industrial designers—not my usual peer group, which is great!”

Belaire also posted: “Thank you Michael Paterson, [IDSA, @mpform] of @GoPro for an exhilarating presentation on empathy in multiple contexts!” and “Very impressive work” by the presenters in the Student Merit Awards sponsored by Dassault Systèmes SOLIDWORKS.

Amber G. (@zevelle): “Just… incredible! @KyleMaynard’s speech here at IDSA #WDDC16 #inspiration #noexcuses.”

“Listening to the inspiring @kylemaynard @IDSA #WDDC16,” wrote fellow speaker @GregAper, IDSA. “Creative problem solving at an unthinkable level.”

Aper, who had posted pics of his pup Nixon donning an IDSA t-shirt pre-conference, spoke on empathy.

More posts on @MSUDenver Communication Design Professor Lisa Abendroth: “Great hearing (her) talking about the Social Economic Environmental Design (SEED) Network,” from Calabrese and “Bringing awareness of how we need to be community centric2make a difference,” from Belaire.

Mike Neustedter of @ParadoxSports on The Human-Oriented Side of Design: “Never settle. One design doesn’t fit all.” Thomas Lockwood, PhD, IDSA, who led the Design Leadership Panel at IDSA’s 2015 International Conference, spoke on Design: Do, Lead, Do Lead. The Closing Party took over Brooklyn’s at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

Gold-level sponsors are: Eastman Innovation Lab; Enfoque Design; Metropolitan State University of Denver. Bronze-level sponsors are: 3DSystemsCollege for Creative Studies; Core77;  Dassault Systèmes SOLIDWORKS; KeyShot; Lulzbot; StudioWest; and WacomMetaphase is a WDDC16 supporter.

Can’t get enough IDSA? Registration is open for District Design Conferences in the South, Midwest and Northeast. And this summer, join us for IDSA’s International Conference in Detroit. Follow @IDSA #IDSADetroit16 on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. The International Design Excellence Awards (#IDSAIDEA) Ceremony and Gala will be held at the iconic The Henry Ford Museum in Detroit.