Ann Makosinski | My 18-year Journey

Ann Makosinski’s first toy was a box of transistors; her youth was nothing short of innovative and unique. At 15, she was inspired to create a flashlight that ran off the heat of the human hand—the Hollow Flashlight—when one of her friends in the Philippines failed a school grade because she didn’t have any light or electricity with which to study at night.

#MakingThingsHappen has become Makosinski’s philosophy in life. Now, at the age of only 18, she shares her focus on enlightening others—to realize their true potential to innovate and create.

Brian Pelcak, IDSA | When 'Innovation' Alone is not Enough

We’ve all seen (and probably authored) those glossy concept images which celebrate the beauty of an object (or place). “What an innovative solution!” we exclaim. Turns out, though—the idea is only the beginning.

In a WIRED article chronicling the involvement of IDEO with the KYU creative collective, author Liz Stinson notes, "To succeed, a studio can no longer simply provide ideas with a shiny presentation tied on top like a bow." As a literal interpretation of the IDSA International Conference theme, "Making Things Happen," Brian Pelcak, IDSA, of PGAV Destinations, will explore briefly—topics which reinforce the notion of what it takes to truly DELIVER any designed product (or service) to market—and how a designer’s greatest assets are those of vigilance and persistence.

Delivered through the unique lens of the themed entertainment and attractions industry, Pelcak will address, via case study and conversation, how comprehensive design services can act as a competitive differentiator.

Bryan Shova, IDSA | A Model is Worth a Thousand Pictures

We stand in Detroit—the birthplace of the assembly line, tradecraft and product design, as we know it.  Our profession was defined more than a century ago, but has been drastically changed by digital modeling, virtual rendering and the demand to produce new products at an ever-increasing speed.

Our virtual tools allow us to move faster and more cost effectively than ever, but are we sacrificing the necessity of user insights and problem solving through physically making models as the core to the industrial design methodology?

Bryan Shova, IDSA, of Kaleidoscope, will focus on making models early and often with the intent to break things while learning. We will share how to get your hands dirty with low-tech ways to test and prove your ideas. Embrace the maker culture invented and refined in Detroit with a new old way of thinking in a virtual age of design.

Career Center

New this year to the International Conference is the IDSA Career Center—scheduled from 10 am to 4pm on Thursday, August 18 in the Design Gallery. The Career Center will host a variety of activities aimed at helping designers best position themselves in today’s competitive job market.
A morning panel session will feature representatives from four prominent design firms  and consultancies speaking on what they look for in design talent and what makes applicants stand out from the crowd. A presentation by Angela Yeh, IDSA, will focus on what design firms can do to attract and nurture a top innovation team. A networking lunch will follow featuring design experts hosting table talk discussions covering a variety of topics such as resume reviews; interview preparation; and networking skills.  The two-hour, ever-popular portfolio review—co-sponsored by Core77—takes place in the early afternoon. Then, participants can roll up their sleeves to join a sketching workshop with Jeff Smith, IDSA, of Autodesk.
For more information, contact IDSA Executive Director Daniel Martinage, CAE, at Or visit Career Center

Celina Lee | Give One Dream: Designing a Community to Inspire People to Make their Dreams Happen

How can we make our dreams happen when the odds are against us? The biggest regret people have in life before dying is that they did not honor their dreams. Give One Dream community was inspired by Celina Lee’s experience of achieving her childhood dream of writing a book— a dream many people said was impossible.

Lee will share her story of founding Give One Dream, and how she is creating a community of people who share, encourage and help one another to achieve dreams together. 

Give One Dream started with live events sharing inspiring stories of people who achieved their dreams. In the Share Your Dream campaign, people from all over the world share their dreams, by writing them on postcards. The ultimate vision is to make it a global movement—connecting people with dreams—with others who can help on a social platform and show how people around the world are paying forward to help one another, and how we ultimately are connected.

Chris Bissig, IDSA | Improving Healthcare Begins in the Kitchen

With more than two-thirds of the total cost of healthcare in the United States driven by unhealthful behavior, one of the key decisions we can make to reduce these costs and improve long-term wellness is eating well. In early 2015, the GE Appliances design team began exploring the intersection of kitchen design, smart appliances and internet-connected services to promote health and wellness through better nutrition. Working with home builders, health providers, food growers and grocery delivery services, GE Appliances is trying to understand how to create a more holistic meal preparation system. Chris Bissig, IDSA—manager, concept and brand development at GE Appliances—will share the journey so far.

Chris Livaudais, IDSA | Objects that Talk Back

Designing connected, always on products, is no longer a future proposition for many industrial designers. How should the design process be adapted for this new reality—when conversations happen between people and things? The answer to this question reveals new responsibilities we must accept and new tools we must master in order to create products that continuously listen and respond to us.

Chris Livaudais, IDSA, shares the development story of the ReST Bed, a revolutionary new mattress that simultaneously monitors and responds to a sleeper’s body in real-time throughout the night. When a mattress can talk back—the meaning of intimacy, data collection and comfort quickly become much more personal than ever before. Livaudais will highlight tools used, challenges faced and insights gained to leave the audience with a clear vision of how to design Objects that Talk Back.

Dan Kraemer | The Designer’s Unfair Advantage

Designers are board members of industry-leading corporations and founding the world’s most valued start-ups. Companies everywhere are seeking to build the skills, process and mindset that are core to you as a designer. How are you participating in this new era of design's expectation and impact on business? Dan Kraemer will help you channel your own "design thinking” to influence teams, elevate your role and ensure your projects become tomorrow’s breakthroughs.

Daniel Mota Veiga | Re-Inspiring—The Hidden Value of Legacy

Daniel Mota Veiga will introduce design leadership in large legacy corporations and leveraging decades—sometimes centuries—of hidden design and emotional value to increase excitement and engagement.

Sharing his experience as a design and culture influencer in a 100-year-old company, Veiga will address the important touch points of the brand in terms of legacy and attitude, and how they translate into genuinely good products that are competitive, beautiful and keep amazing both users—and the people who make them.

James Antifaev | The Future of Prototyping: What You Need to Know to Stay On Top

A majority of designers now use 3D printing in their practices. How will you know if you are using this technology to its full potential? With insights and case studies from IDSA members around the country, you’ll learn the secrets of why, how and when other design firms are using 3D printing. Is Makerbot really king? Are more designers buying machines or outsourcing services? Where is 3D printing currently being used in the design process? James Antifaev will give you useful insights to help inform your own future work, and he’ll take questions from attendees, who are encouraged to share their own experiences

Jamey Amrine | Darren Chilton | Think Like a Designer; Move Like an Entrepreneur

Innovation and game changing ideas sometimes come from the most unlikely places!  As designers and product developers we need to know how to spot them—but more importantly, what to do next. Darren Chilton of solidThinking and Jamey Amrine of Toggled will describe how an innovative Motor City auto project with a goal to develop an eco-friendly bus—led to a new way to interact with light and spawned a tech start up.  They’ll also explore the impact designers have on the innovative process; and dive deep into the process, the passion and the insights that led to game-changing IP in an unlikely market.

Chilton and Amrine also will discuss best practices for uncovering and making a business around great ideas and share insights for delivering results  with real world examples of how to turn ideas into instruments for global impact.

Jason Mayden | Rise of the Creative Class

Jason Mayden has spent the last 14 years creating products, services and experiences that seek to amplify human potential through athletics and design. He has worked with world-class leaders and organizations such as Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter, Disney, Pixar, SAP, ESPN, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Apple and Nike—engendering creative cultures that are optimized to deliver value to their employees and the consumers.

Mayden’s work at the d.School and Accel Partners is focused on highlighting ways to provide entrepreneurial and educational opportunities for an emergent, youth-led demographic that he refers to as "Cultural Alchemist." Mayden co-founded Slyce with NBA superstar Steph Curry to focus on deepening the relationship between brands and influencers through content distribution and analytics. 

Jennifer Peavey, IDSA | How Design and Forecasting Methods can be Used to Inform Material Strategy

The further a company is from the final user in the value chain—the harder it is for a company to view their products in connection with the final user. It can also mean a company does not understand the brands which seek to connect with the final user.

Jennifer Peavey, IDSA, innovation manager at Eastman Chemical Company, finds this is particularly true for raw material suppliers who are near the beginning of the value chain. The company’s ability to continually innovate could be limited without knowing the value proposition to the final user. The inability to communicate the value of the company’s products could make a meaningful discussion with partners and customers difficult; make credibility challenging to establish; and lead to missed opportunities.

Peavey shows how the use of industrial design and forecasting methods could help spark purposeful discussions with those who make strategic decisions inside and outside a company.

Jim Bull | Cultivating The New

Design is connected to everything we see, use and experience with lasting impact on individuals and businesses. Taking a closer look at research and development (R&D), we are constantly searching for alternatives that bring efficient solutions to make people's lives easier.

Jim Bull, co-founder of Moving Brands, will uncover the secrets behind building an R&D approach into your work—whether you're based in an agency or a business—or  you're a student. That ranges from everything he’s learned from collaborating with multi-disciplinary experts—to engaging users and building useful prototypes. Bull will focus on cultivating this unique spot in a designer's mind—and the future growth of business. Attendees will walk away with concrete ideas on #MakingThingsHappen.

Juliane Trummer | Helping An Oil Company Transition from Physical to Digital Value

Which new business opportunities should an energy company pursue in an ever-connected world? This is the challenge Repsol, a multinational oil company headquartered in Madrid, Spain, presented to product and service Innovation consultancy Mormedi.

Director of Insights & Strategy Juliane Trummer will share how the Mormedi team helped Repsol to identify, conceptualize, validate and model promising business opportunities through a customer-centric approach and by leveraging the digital dimension.

Kevin Young, IDSA | Agile Innovation for Product and Service Design

As designers, we’re being pushed to make things happen faster—without compromising on quality or bottom line results. How does the traditional design and innovation need to evolve—or be entirely reinvented—to match the speed of today’s business needs and pressures? Agile and lean start-up methodologies have been adopted by the software industry. Kevin Young will offer techniques to get to consumer-informed and tested design solutions at unprecedented speeds. Agile-like MVO (Minimum Viable Offer) approaches for product and service design will be discussed.

Lauren Purkhiser, IDSA | Mackenzie King, IDSA | Knowledge Makes Things Happen

To make things happen, designers must have various knowledge bases—of materials, manufacturing processes and even more importantly, of their users. Aside from discovering the obvious issues, how does one gather a more holistic understanding of the product-user relationship to innovate beyond incremental fixes?

These kinds of insights have the ability to drive significant improvements of products, interfaces, and systems. Even on occasion this knowledge built from information provided by users can revolutionize industries.

These innovation techniques will be brought to life through a presentation of co-creation environments, qualitative research methodologies and personal experiences—as Lauren Purkhiser, IDSA, and Mackenzie King, IDSA, of Lextant push designers to question the research they are using and the problems they are solving—while framing the relevancy of true insights that act as a guiding light for designers who are out to disrupt, revitalize and revolutionize industries.

Martin Keen | Considering our Past to Better Design our Future

Shoes, chairs and automobiles are among the most designed objects in the world. They are also some of the items most responsible for taking us away from our animal past—literally separating us from the Earth. This hasn't always been intentional, but instead comes from outdated ideas and aesthetic preference (form) over function and utility.

Human-centered design means considering the user during the entire life of the product, not just the beginning. Martin Keen asks, “What are the long-term consequences of using this product every day?” Consider mobile phones and the unintended consequence of "tech neck." Or high-heeled shoes and bunions. Or cars and how they mean that most people barely walk anymore. As a species, we are getting sicker and less reliant on our own bodies than ever before.

If we reconsider some of these original designs, taking these unintended consequences into account, we come up with radical new solutions. Keen finds, we should embrace these new directions and the exciting designs that can result.