Welcome to the Future of the Future

By Surya Vanka, 2015 International Conference Chair

Apr 22 2015 - 10:52am

Imagine this: It is the third week of August 2015 in the midst of a brilliant Pacific Northwest summer. Hundreds of designers from around the world have gathered in Seattle for the IDSA conference, and you are one of them. The city feels alive—a cauldron where the arts, architecture, digital innovations, creativity, music, biotechnology, maker culture, sustainability, multiculturalism, entrepreneurial energy and citizenship engagement are coming together in a potent mix. Not only are you inspired by the most transformative ideas in design, but you also collaborate with fellow designers to tackle some of the world’s most wicked design problems. Four stimulating days later, you have devised breakthrough approaches for these epic challenges, and while doing so, you also have prototyped the new ways that design will be practiced in the 21st century. You have been the butterfly effect that has sparked the transformation of design.

We all know that there has never been a better a time to be a designer, nor as much opportunity to make a big impact.  As the world can make increasingly powerful products and services and can make them ever faster, the new business challenge is to know what to make, and how to suit these offerings to people’s lives. It is not surprising that human-centered design thinking is gaining wide acceptance in business. It is equally unsurprising that professionals from other disciplines are flocking to design, augmenting their business or engineering backgrounds with design skills, and embarking on exciting design careers.

The best designers, too, are furiously reinventing themselves to remain relevant by becoming more agile, entrepreneurial and data driven. This quickly changing context begs important questions about the future of design and designers. What will 21st century design look like? How will successful 21st century design careers be built? What will be part of a 21st century design toolbox?  Now more than ever, we need bring together the talents and experience of the global design community to answer these questions, take stewardship of our discipline and work as one to invent a great future.

In 2015, IDSA celebrates a half century of achievement, and this milestone offers the fitting moment to begin reshaping design for the next half century. Join us in August as we tap into your talents and into the frontier spirit of Seattle for this bold and important project. We are working hard to create a once-in-a-lifetime experience for you in a city that has one of the world’s most vibrant design communities. Immersed in this community, you will be engaged each day in: Sharing and Connecting. Doing and Making. Celebrating the Past and Building the Future.

Margaret Mead said, “Never underestimate the power of a few committed people to change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” A decade from now, you will remember how the 21st Century Design Revolution began in Seattle the third week of August 2015. And how you reinvented design and how you reinvented your design career. Imagine that!

Surya Vanka, IDSA 2015 International Conference Chair