Paul Hatch, IDSA | president, TEAMS Design
What made you decide to chair the International Conference?
When I received the call, I was delighted to have been offered such a great opportunity. As DVP a few years ago, I chaired the Midwest District Conference, so I had an idea of the amount of work that goes into organizing a huge event like that. However, I did enjoy the experience and felt that the team and I were able to make a difference. The International Conference is an even bigger challenge and one where I hope we can also make a lasting impact.
How have you been preparing for this year's International Conference?
The very first step was to get a team together; we met for a one-day brainstorm and divided up the next tasks. We want to evolve the conference experience as a whole by breaking some of the traditions of the past, but also keep the things that already work well. So a lot of the ideas that we are currently researching and implementing center on evolving the conference to the next level. It won't be revolutionary, but we hope to make the overall experience noticeably different, hopefully even inspiring.
Who are your committee members and what are they doing?
I have an all-star cast of 15 volunteers in the conference committee, plus IDSA staff members. Chicago is one of the main centers for industrial design in the US; it is also a hub of IDSA activity both on a leadership and a membership level, so I was lucky to be sitting on a goldmine. There will be a full list of the team on the conference site which will launch soon.
At the brainstorm meeting we divided into several teams, each focusing on a different task; speakers, events, website, sponsorship, legacy, etc. We are using basecamp.com to share updates, and I meet with each task force every now and then to discuss updates.
Why did you pick the title “Breaking the Rules?”
Exactly 100 years ago Chicagoan Daniel Burham uttered his famous phrase "Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood and probably will not themselves be realized." Inspired by this I wanted to have a theme that echoes the fearlessness of his statement—one that reflects change, innovation and boldness. Rule-breakers exemplify those elements, and they have excellent stories to tell. “Breaking The Rules” is something we designers inherently do, but we understand very little about how to do it well.
Who are some of the speakers you have engaged?
We came up with a very long list of speakers that we would LOVE to see talk—all our favorites. We set a rule that we would only select proven and recommended speakers, to ensure a high level of quality, and then filtered them further according to their personal connection to the theme. I am very excited by the choices we’ve made so far, and there are plenty more to come. We have not announced any names yet, but I would recommend subscribing to the updates via the conference website.
How will this conference differ from last year's International Conference?
A major change is that we'll start the conference in January—that is, on the conference website. We'll post updates as they happen and soon we'll open up a discussion forum where you can converse with the speakers a long time before the Aug. 21 opening night. Another major change is that the majority of the conference will be a singular track; TED-style, rather than multiple tracks and breakouts. This enables us to “design” a seamless, high quality experience for the attendees from start to finish. We’ll also build upon some of the Boston 2012 ideas—like the app, that Austen Angell successfully piloted.
What are some of the outside activities you have planned so far?
The architecture tour is a not-to-miss, and we have a cycle tour too; bicycles now play a major role in the city. The conference hotel has the best possible location, adjacent to a classic Mies building and over the road from the fascinating Aqua Building. We're right on the Chicago River in the center of downtown, a short walk away from our events at the Millennium Park and Merchandise Mart taking in the views on the way. “Midnight Fight Club” will also take place, but at an undisclosed location...
Who should attend?
If you have not been to the IDSA International Conference in a while, this is the one to go to. The conference is always a good place to connect and get inspiration. We are focusing on taking both those elements one step further to a level that will re-energize you and make a difference in your daily work life.