Northeast District Design Conference 2017 | Schedule


FRIDAY, March 31

RISD Auditorium
Address: 7 Canal Walk, Providence RI

10:00 – 12:00 Pre-conference Tours
1:15 – 1:45 Welcome | Ayse Birsel, IDSA, Birsel+Seck LLC, Northeast District VP
1:45 – 3:00 SECTION 1 – Unexpected Experience | Moderator – Charlie Cannon, RISD
1:45 – 1:55

Jumping to the End

Matt Wade will discuss super fast techniques for discovery and idea validation by imagining future responses to the things we make. 

Speaker: Matt Wade, Google

1:55 – 2:05

The Emerging Silver Economy

Mark Huang, economic director of Providence, RI, will share a case study on how design thinking can apply to economic development.

Speaker: Mark Huang, Director of Economic Development, City of Providence

2:05 – 2:15

Design: A State of the Union

The world is changing.  Global supply chains and telecommunications are forcing businesses to see themselves as planetary enterprises. Digital technologies are creating more intimate connections between our physical and virtual experiences. Small organizations and individuals now have access to the means of production, the funding and the publics that were once the province of  large enterprises.  

In Design: A State of the Union Charlie Cannon, of the Industrial Design Department at RISD, will reflect on how these changes are shifting the ways we think about—and practice—design.

Speaker: Charlie Cannon, RISD

2:15 – 2:25

Envisioning a Healthier Future: How Design Rewrites the Playbook

Mark Guarraia, director of design at Ximedica, will discuss design’s role as the competitive advantage in healthcare, and explore emerging technologies that signal what we could and should expect in the future.

Speaker: Mark Guarraia, Ximedica

2:25 – 3:00 Q&A
3:00 – 3:30 Coffee Break
3:30 – 5:00 Student Merit Awards Presentations

5:30 7:00

Opening Reception | RISD Museum, 20 N Main St.



Workshops- Industrial Design Building, 161 South Main St
Late Morning/Afternoon Sessions- RISD Auditorium, 7 Canal Walk

9:00 – 11:00

Workshops (choice of 5)

Play + Science Workshop: Sesame and Ximedica
Expect the Unexpected as you co-create with top design organizations Sesame Workshop and Ximedica! Sesame Workshop VP Creative Theresa Fitzgerald and Ximedica Director of Industrial Design Mark Guarraia will share methods for speculation at the intersection of play and science. Sesame will bring characters, playfulness and humor; Ximedica—science, health, research and approach.

Speakers: Theresa Fitzgerald, Sesame Workshop and Mark Guarraia, Ximedica


Agile Design Visualization and Prototyping through the Cloud: Hands-on Workshop by Autodesk Inc.

(Please bring laptop, loaded with Fusion360 and a mouse. Click here to download Fusion360; free for students, educators and institutions. This workshop will begin promptly at 9am; come a few minutes earlier to meet your team and grab a good spot!)

Experience agile visualization techniques using the breakthrough, end-to-end, collaborative design and development tool, Fusion360. Sunand Bhattacharya, IDSA, of Autodesk shows you how to iterate quickly on design ideas with digital sculpting to explore form and modeling tools and create finishing features.

You’ll collaborate with teammates to help conceptualize, visualize, iterate and prototype free flowing design forms using cutting edge processes and emerging digital tools. Learn three, key concepts: agile visualization; design thinking; and radical collaboration.

Speaker: Sunand Bhattacharya, IDSA, Autodesk

Sensor-Driven Design Workshop

Looking beyond the “thingness” of IoT, we ask, what does it mean to be connected to the data-driven aspects of our world? What kinds of questions can be answered through sensor-driven design?

Tellart—an experience design firm focused on Interactive products, installations and exhibitions that explore novel ways for engaging with the world—teams up with Herelab—an IoT products and services company helping people know, measure and manage environments through remote sensors—to lead this workshop exploring civic impact through sensor-driven design.

Speakers: Nick Scappaticci, Tellart and Patrick Philips, HereLab

Socially Responsible Workshop: J&J and Brown University Humanity-Centered Robotics Initiative (HCRI)
Co-create with Johnson & Johnson and Brown University HCRI Associate Director Peter Haas as they introduce socially responsible robots and IOT devices. What are potential future trends in robotics and IOT that will change society for the better? How do robots and IOT devices make the transition from the lab to the marketplace to meet social challenges?

Speaker: Cordy Swope, Johnson & Johnson and Peter Haas, Brown Humanity-Centered Robotics Initiative

Useless Objects Workshop: Google Creative Lab
Join Google Creative Lab Interaction Design Creative Director Matt Wade to learn from quick thinking, the ridiculously obvious and absurd assumptions! Chindogu is the Japanese art of inventing useless objects. But are they really useless? See how to use these techniques to help design better things.

Speaker: Matt Wade, Google

11:00 – 11:30 Break (walk back over to RISD Auditorium)
11:30 – 12:30 SECTION 2 – Unexpected Stories | Moderator – Ayse Birsel, IDSA – Birsel + Seck LLC
11:30 – 11:40


Harnessing her own early influences, Theresa Fitzgerald will share her journey and insights into design with purpose to entertain and to educate. Fitzgerald is a creative leader who has built a career designing for some of the world's greatest brands for kids. She has consistently approached projects and campaigns with strategies intended to successfully traverse a variety of platforms for both children and families. Fitzgerald strives to create work that celebrates brand recognition through design that evokes authentic emotional connections and humor. 

Speaker: Theresa FitzgeraldSesame Street

11:40 – 11:50

The Industry of the Unexpected

Cordy Swope’s talk might focus on how what we believe to be true about the future—is too often a mediocre, alternative version of the present. But then again, it might not…

Our grandparents once were convinced that motorized appliances would offer more leisure time. Our parents once believed sincerely that rock and roll would save the world. Many people recently believed that social media algorithms would deliver the most accurate predictions ever for anything—like elections, for instance. And if it is true that 60 percent of current grade school children will do jobs that have not yet been invented, then maybe we should engage differently with the future than we do today. Or then again, maybe we shouldn’t…

According to Swope, the only expectation you should have of this talk is that (if it happens) it will last about 10 minutes. Stay tuned…

Speaker: Cordy Swope, Johnson & Johnson

11:50 – 12:00 How I Became A Mama Bear
Hannah Chung never thought she would start her own company after college—nor did she imagine becoming a "mama bear" to a robotic teddy bear with Type 1 diabetes. In this talk, Chung will share how unexpected moments in the design process led her from one insight to another, ultimately creating a comforting best friend—Jerry the Bear—that reached more than 25 percent of children newly diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in the United States.

Speaker: Hannah Chung, Sproutel

12:00 – 12:10

The Power of Blissful Thinking

Blissful thinking can play an important role in developing a life of purpose. Kelly Ramirez will share stories of success and failure from her own entrepreneurial journey, as well as those from many of the social entrepreneurs who have inspired her life. 

Speaker: Kelly Ramirez, Social Enterprise Greenhouse

12:10 – 12:30 Q&A
12:30 – 1:30 Lunch
1:30 – 3:30 Portfolio Review
3:30 – 4:00 Coffee Break
4:00 – 5:00 SECTION 3 – Unexpected Disciplines | Moderator: Claudia Rebola
4:00 – 4:10 What The Food?
We came to Parsons hungry for design. Last fall, Tucker Viemeister, FIDSA, and Steph Mantis co-taught a product design class based on the foods they love. The studio began with the designer’s favorite dishes. They replaced arbitrary project briefs with menus of guiding principles derived from the culinary delights. Analysis of a dish’s physical attributes, history and personal meaning became the foundations for each project. They avoided literal transposition and the projects emerged in many physical forms—from furniture, housewares and interiors to culinary arts—or even material explorations. What was once chewed on, is now visualized; essence captured. Taste the designers’ commitment that this process brought to each project. After all, we are what we eat.

Speaker: Tucker Viemeister, FIDSA - Viemeister Industries and Steph Mantis, Steph Mantis, Inc.

4:10 – 4:20

Lenses For Inspiration

Brown Assistant Professor, Composer Eric Nathan, speaks about searching for the unexpected in his musical compositional process – from channeling inspiration from other disciplines and rethinking the mechanics of instruments, to the creative dialogue between the conscious and unconscious mind in finding a path for a piece of music. 

Speaker: Eric Nathan, Musician

4:20 – 4:30

Design and the Retooling of College Prep School
What’s the purpose of school when much of humanity’s collective knowledge can be accessed instantaneously on smart phones? Our rapidly changing, interconnected world now seems to value and reward skills such as creative problem solving and collaboration at least as much as mastery of concrete information—posing an existential challenge to traditional college prep schools.

Moses Brown, a 232-year-old Quaker school in Providence, RI, has turned explicitly to the principles of design to energize its leadership, curriculum and campus. Head of School Matt Glendinning describes the school’s journey, including partnerships with the local design and entrepreneurial community.

Speaker: Matt Glendinning PhD, Moses Brown School

4:30 – 4:40 Unexpected Futures
Founder and CEO Nick Scappaticci shows how Tellart:
  • combines storytelling with highly complex and experimental technologies, working with global brands on product and service innovation and experiential marketing to engage audiences in new ways.
  • works with cultural institutions on exhibitions that provide new opportunities for creativity and learning—onsite and online.
  • supports government on multi-sensory, architectural-scale experiences that invite policy makers and the public to experience future scenarios and explore the downstream implications of decisions.

Speaker: Nick Scappaticci, Tellart

4:40 – 5:00 Q&A
5:00 – 5:15 Closing Remarks | Ayse Birsel, IDSA, Birsel+Seck, Northeast District VP