IDC 2020: Event Recap

Jul 16 2021 - 3:39pm


IDSA's annual International Design Conference (IDC) represents the perfect opportunity to bring together our global community of designers and top creative minds each year for a few days of connection, inspiration, and knowledge exchange. The 2020 event was originally planned to be in-person, as always, and in Seattle, WA. However, due to health concerns arising from the novel coronavirus pandemic, IDSA quickly realized that a pivot would be necessary. As a result, our biggest event of the year happened virtually for the first time ever.


And if that wasn't enough of a challenge, we also tried something that had not previously been attempted by any international design conference, to our knowledge: a virtual event with attendees and presenters logging in from around the world for a continuous span of 24 hours.



We wanted to build something truely unique

"This format helped to separate us from other events and allowed us to address a truly global audience. It didn't try to replicate an in-person format in a digital environment, but rather leveraged the best of what a virtual experience can provide in order to create an entirely new attendee experience."

- Chris Livaudais, IDSA Executive Director



Instead of handshakes and hotel lobby selfies, attendees took to social media to share images of their 'home setup' once the event kicked off.

Image: Carly Hagins

Image: Mercedes Landazuri


Image: Lela Jenkins


Emcees guide the way


A key element of the IDC experience is the Emcees who are responsible for guiding the audience through an incredibly expansive range of talks delivered by prominent industry thought leaders and provocateurs. They help navigate the transitions between speakers and craft a narrative that spans the entire event. This year was no different, with six tracks of top-tier design content guided by five spectacular Emcees:


Kristine Arth
Lobster Phone

Verena Paepcke-Hjeltness, IDSA
Iowa State University

Aziza Cyamani
Kansas State University

Spencer Nugent

Jeevak Badve

The main virtual event, as well as the free pre-conference events on September 15 and 16, drew hundreds of designers and creatives from across the globe and from 25 countries. The conference featured nearly 80 speakers from 9 different countries, all diving into highly relevant topics that spanned a variety of design disciplines, such as industrial design, UX, service design, medical design, furniture design, graphic design, and more.


IDC 2020 was a success on multiple levels: the diversity of speakers, content, and perspectives; the ease with which the emcees, presenters, and attendees navigated the entirely virtual experience; and the IDSA Staff and volunteers' ability to convert an in-person gathering to an online event that still managed to bring the ID community together for learning, fun, and fellowship.





Pre-Conference Events 

Tuesday, September 15

Virtual Studio Tour with Loft - Watch video
Virtual Studio Tour with Google - More info
Instagram Live with Kiki Redhead of Sherwin-Williams - Watch video

Wednesday, September 16

IDSA Annual Membership Meeting - Watch video
2020 IDSA Awards Ceremony - Watch video
2020 IDEA Ceremony - Watch video


24-Hour Main Event

Track 1

Kristine Arth (Lobster Phone)

Alain Sylvain (Sylvain Labs)
Mia Cinelli (University of Kentucky)
Demetrius Romanos (Ergobaby)
Joel Delman, IDSA (Informed Innovation, Inc.)
Spencer Nugent (
Karim Merchant (Luxion)
Jason Belaire, IDSA (Belworld Creative)
Stephan Clambaneva, IDSA (iD8trs)
Kevin Bethune (dreams • design + life)
Dara Dotz (Worldchanging Ventures)

Jiani Zeng, S/IDSA

Ralf Groene (Microsoft)


Track 2 - IDSA Education Symposium

Verena Papecke-Hjeltness, IDSA
Aziza Cyamani

Başak Altan, IDSA (Strategist & Educator)
James Rudolph (University of Notre-Dame)
Raja Schaar, IDSA (Drexel University)
Chris Baeza (Drexel University)
Sheng-Hung Lee, IDSA (MIT)
John Liu (MIT)
Keith Instone (Dexterity User Experience)
Louise R. Manfredi, PhD, IDSA (Syracuse University)
Sarah McNabb (Doctor of Occupational Therapy)
Michael Barrett (Thomas Jefferson University)
Eric Schneider (Thomas Jefferson University)
Carly Hagins, IDSA (Western Michigan University)
Benjamin Bush, IDSA (Auburn University)
Derek Cascio (Wentworth Insitute of Technology)
Hector Silva (Advanced Design)
Rebecca Ngola (USAA)
Mekin Elcioglu, PhD (Kansas State University)
Mike Elwell (Richmond Insitute for Design & Innovation)

Sawyer Alcazar-Hagen, IDSA

Owen Foster (Aether Global Learning)
John McCabe (Aether Global Learning)

Track 3

Spencer Nugent

Ayana Patterson, IDSA (Luxury CMF + Form Specialist)
Ali Murtaza (IDEATE Innovation)
Lada Gorlenko (Smartsheet)
Michael DiTullo, IDSA (Michael DiTullo, LLC)
Cia Mooney, IDSA (Independent Designer)
Howard Nuk (Palm)
Jason Mayden (Trillicon Valley)
Jayeon Kim (Google)
Kate Lockhart (Google)
Kristine Arth (Lobster Phone)

Anne McDonald, S/IDSA

Arielle Assouline-Lichten (Slash Objects)

Track 4

Kristine Arth (Lobster Phone)

Tim Allen (AirBnB)
Javeria Masood (UNDP Pakistan)
Felix Heck (Samsung Design Europe)
Chandrashekhar Wyawashare (Futuring Design)
Chris Hosmer, IDSA (Tipping Point)
Dylan Ren, I/IDSA (Tipping Point)
Kirk Morris (Bradshaw International)
Le'Spencer Walker (Target)

Jessica Monteleone, S/IDSA

Charles Johnson, IDSA (Puma)

Track 5

Jeevak Badve, FIDSA

Lani Adeoye (Studio Lani)
Alisan Atvur (Novo Nordisk)
Maurice Cherry (Revision Path)
Jomo Tariku (Jomo Furniture)
BOA (OI Studio)
Marie Burgos (Marie Burgos Design)
Marlon Darbeau (By Making)
Yogesh Dandekar (Sarg Design Studio)
Hector Silva (Advanced Design)
Dominic Montante (Advanced Design)

Ellen Posch, S/IDSA

Lesley-Ann Noel, PhD (Tulane University)

Track 6

Spencer Nugent

Jeanette Numbers, IDSA (Loft)
Mark Prommel (Pensa)
Nicole McLaughlin (Nicole McLaughlin, LLC)
Mitzi Okou (Where Are the Black Designers)
Forest Young (Wolf Ollins)
Raja Schaar, IDSA (Drexel University)
Roshannah Bagley (Something Inc.)
Zariah Cameron (NC AT&T State University)
Brielle Nickoloff (Botmock)
Surya Vanka (Authentic Design)
Brad Abelman (KeyShot)
Steve Seager (KeyShot)
Tony Guard (Kinetic Vision/Stratasys)

Avery Saylor, S/IDSA

Jan Griffiths (Gravitas Detroit)



“10/10 would attend a virtual IDSA conference for 2021 (if we had to)! Absolutely loved the 24-Hour stream of ID inspiration. Watching the conference, LIVE, in my living room really brought back the feeling of an ID community during a time of distancing.”

- Philip Stankard, attendee

“The IDC was refreshing and re-energized me for any upcoming projects and jobs. They highlighted designers from around the world, which gave me a new perspective and approach to human-centered design, healthcare design, and education. I am excited to apply this knowledge further down the line.”

- Lafayette Doty, IDSA, attendee (blkHaUs studios x IDC grant recipient)

“IDSA seriously set the standard for online events that are engaging, diverse, thought-provoking, entertaining and seamless without skipping a beat on the soul of what these gatherings are. Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of history and thank you for being a force for change and good in the design community. I see IDSA growing, evolving, and listening to the designers who you represent and the profession at large. Thank you so much!”

- Spencer Nugent, emcee

“I loved being part of this. This is how virtual events should be run. The emcees kept the perfect pace and energy level with the right amount of audience engagement. Well done, IDSA!”

- Jan Griffiths, keynote speaker


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