Friday, 26 October 2007

Some Reflections on InterSections

The InterSections Conference has come and gone like a blinding flash of design stars (Tim Brown, Richard Seymour, John Thackara, Sir George Cox, David Kester to name a few...), black-clad delegates, awesome keynotes, stimulating presentations, long lines for tea, coffee, coats and packed lunches in clear bags all on the banks of the Tyne River NewcastleGateshead.

It was an awesome 2 days of presentations. The breadth and calibre of speakers were impressive for their provocative, stimulating and eye-opening presentations.

Hats off to the conference producers (ie. Kevin Mcullagh, the Design Council and Northumbria University) on pulling together such diverse design subjects and issues.

I thought Core77 put together a good write up of the event. Check out Day 1 and Day 2 of the conference on their blog.

Instead of repeating what happened, I thought I would post some reflections here.

Here's what emerged from my mind map after Day 1:

- Lots of people, strong sense of energy and anticipation

- Logistics were not good- long lines everywhere (could have benefited with designers here but I think we were too busy networking) and what was with the stapled programme (guess had a nice hand-made feel to them..?)

- Steller presentations that outdid the break-out sessions

- 'Are the D Schools the New B Schools?' break-out session was disappointing. It sounded a bit like Nussbaum on BusinessWeek, only live. I thought we, as designers, could have gone a step further and discussed pragmatic ways design and business could foster an exchange

- Thought the Service Design panel got too hung up on definitions of Service Design and didn't focus on the key issue which was supposed to be about 'know-how.' Did I learn anything new? Not really, but great for validation of my future research

And on Day 2:

- I was impressed with the keynotes and presentations on Day 1, but Day 2 was awesome!

- There is so much out there we just don't know, until someone introduces them to us (thanks Peter Higgins). Such great work, ideas, stories, thinking... all out there waiting for us to discover it

- I appreciated a presentation solely focused on people. Because they really need to be featured as much as the rendered pictures of products

- The issue of different generations was brought up (though discreetly) on both days. I believe this is an important one to focus on especially given that emerging design studios are pre-dominantly run by designers in their 20's and early 30's

- Great observation, whoever made it, on the dominance of males both as delegates and speakers. Glad to see that others were picking up on it because it seemed quiet obvious. Also rightly questioned as, 'was this saying something about the state of the design industry today?'

- Richard Seymour challenged us with some great propositions (something like 10 in total). Getting us to really think about what we do as designers, our roles, our responsibilities and the thing I think we can forget from time to time which is, remembering why we are designers in the first place

And overall... I walked out of the Baltic feeling upbeat and excited to see where we go from here in this time of transformation. As one speaker noted, the media paints such a doomed picture of the world with pressing issues such as the environment and globalisation, and I do think, as designers, it is important that we continue, more than ever, to inject optimism, excitment, engagement and humanism into the world.

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