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Thinking About re:think

VMA’s re:think design conference happened earlier this month. If you missed the conference you missed some fascinating talks. In the trendy new venue called The Midway, located in the Dogpatch area of San Francisco, Carolina de Bartolo kicked us off with a discussion labeled Fitness, Firmness and Delight. In her talk she cited the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius, whose design vitruviousprinciples dating back some 2000 years are still relevant today. Vitruvius’ principals, as she defines them – Fitness, Firmness and Delight, translate to useful, usable and desirable. Without any one of these elements, in any proportion, a design goes from good to bad.

Her message seems relevant as today’s designers consider the entire user experience. Useful and usable certainly resonate in UX discussions. And a quick reminder of the accomplishments of Steve Jobs certainly brings us to delight. Maybe nothing has changed.

Carolina was followed by Dava Guthmiller of Noise 13 who brought on a panel of her own clients to discuss The User Experience of Food Through Design. Again, it stressed the importance of the user experience and how life and style are used to build a lasting good design.

Then Mark Holmes took us on a journey through his career as he discussed Using Design as a Flotation Device. He demonstrated a fascinating parallel of how technology and design have aligned to influence opportunities in the design world. Starting on a Mac 2, designing newspaper sell-sheets, Mark migrated to designing games in the mid-90s, and later to Pixar and then to Google, his most recent gig where he was a Google Doodler.

Along his journey, he took us through the process of color choices for the Pixar movies and how they were chosen to reflect specific emotions at an unconscious level. We’ll be paying a lot more attention when the next Pixar movie comes out.

Daniel Dejan from Sappi returned to our conference once again with a fascinating talk on the overlooked subject of the sense of touch and how it affects the brain. In his talk called Haptic Brain, Haptic Brand, he examined how media shapes the brain, and consequently the way a brand is perceived. This is undoubtedly something we are bound to hear more about in the future.

Kristy Cameron from Starbucks shared a lively talk of the process she used in redesigning a global brand and how company values were a critical element to this process.Starbucks_Corporation_Logo_2011.svg

Tanner Christensen
Tanner Christensen

Other speakers included Jen Tank of Huge Inc. She also referenced history as she mentioned Plato’s 2,400-year-old idea of the importance of beauty and the role of the designer to remember why we do what we do. Facebook‘s Tanner Christensen discussed The Myth That is Inspiration. He believes it’s more about doing your homework than waiting for the brilliant idea to strike. More on his topic was published on Medium and on the VMA blog.

Elle Yaven helped us understand the value of creating awareness of our everyday habits and communications to get the best out of ourselves and others. And let us not forget the research that was shared by Megan Slabinsky of the The Creative Group. It seems our industry is alive and thriving! It’s a great time to be in design!

As we approached the closing of the day’s talks Michael Osborne, president of  Michael Osborne Design and Jared Erondu of Copper compared notes on their careers as “the legend” and “the millennial”. They both left us amused and awed by their observations and accomplishments.

We are grateful for all these excellent presentations and as well, for the wonderful and attentive audience, many of whom had never been to a VMA event before. We hope to see them again in the near future.

KBeckRubio060916_1686VMA-ConferenceEvents like these take months of planning and use significant resources of both time and financial investment. We thank Dan Nelson and the VMA Board for supporting this effort, Laura Vargas for driving it to fruition, Jim Frey for finding sponsors and exhibitors to help finance it, Todd Donahue, Corey Lewis and May Suen for the user experience both pre-show and during it. Mark Schwartz, our Facebook marketer, did an amazing job helping us reach out to many attendees who we might have otherwise overlooked. DJ Matt Riley made sure no one fell asleep during the breaks as our music master.  And, let us not forget our “Immoderate Moderator”, Steve Decker, of Zooka Creative, who kept the event moving and lively and managed the unplanned twists and turns with aplomb.

All this said, we are always looking for ways to make this experience better. Please feel free to offer up your thoughts and suggestions. We will undoubtedly “re:think” this event to keep it fresh and interesting in the future and your input is crucial to this endeavor.





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