HOW Design 2010 in review: Part one

Monday, June 7, 2010

I am attending the HOW Design Conference 2010 in Denver, Colorado. Below is a quick overview of the five sessions I attended on Sunday and Monday.

HOW Design Conference 2010

Sunday, June 6, 2010

6:30 pm-7:45 pm – Opening Keynote – 1. Design InspirationAndy Stefanovich
Andy Stefanovich, a nationally recognized innovative thinker, kicks off the Conference with a jolt of inspiration sure to get your creativity flowing. He’ll help you rethink your design approach with tips on using inspiration to fuel innovation and show you why it’s important to constantly seek new and different creative outlets. You’ll learn how to open yourself up to the power of possibilities and relentlessly pursue change, all for the betterment of your inner creative genius.

Monday, June 7, 2010

9:00 am-10:15 am – 2. Inspiration: You Are What You KeepGail Anderson
You don’t have to pull inspiration from thin air—just take a look at all the stuff around you. Gail Anderson, former art director at Rolling Stone, will walk you through her piles of odds and ends and explain how many of those things, including her childhood keepsakes, later inspired and influenced her work.

10:45 am-Noon – 6. Creating Five-Alarm ConceptsVon Glitschka
Good design starts with a good concept. Fortunately for you, Von Glitschka has developed systematic methods to help you start concepting. He’ll show you how to cultivate concepts and derive context, map the processes of idea generation, and successfully ignite your creativity. [Slides - PDF]

  • Design batting average – “a hit is a hit”
  • Load the chamber (AKA your head) – take in information from outside the design industry
  • Designers need to be great thinkers; many are too visually orientated, as if what the creation looks like is more important than what it does.
  • Marketing vs. Design – a common industry balance.  Marketing people are serial design killers, who like to “play designer.”
  • Designers’ ultimate goal isn’t a visual one, but an effectual one.
  • “Marketing without Design is lifeless, and Design with Marketing is mute.”
  • “No idea is as dangerous as the only idea you have.”
  • Collecting knowledge/ideas/inspiration (“matchsticks”) through reading, travel, culture, people … everywhere. Gather as many matches as you can … the more conceptual triggers you will have loaded into your chamber.
  • “Reading is equivalent to thinking with someone else’s head instead of with one’s own.” – Arthur Schopenhauer
  • Great design is fed by the culture that supports it. Idea generation from books, comics, magazines, blogs…. A designer’s mind should be ever-expanding. Inspiration and new ideas sometimes only happen when you leave your comfort zone. “Be a Bedouin” – take notes of cues in your travels and collect them and implement them into your own work. Harvest your inspiration. Harvest through: thoughts, visuals, words.
  • Conceptual ignition – play with matches. Isolate and associate the concepts.
  • “How often I found where I should be going only by setting out for somewhere else.” – R. Buckminster Fuller
  • Embrace the rabbit trails. What environment facilitates your thinking? When does your “idea engine” kick in?
  • Word associations:
    • (run the risk of being too literal). Use figurative words and phrases and well as literal words and phrases.
    • mind mapping
    • forced random relationships
    • Venn diagrams: isolate before/during/after phases of word/product
  • “A concept is stronger than a fact.” – Charlotte P. Gillman
  • Design, for better or worse, has now become a commodity. Examples: Brandstack, CrowdSpring, 99 Designs. Also: LogoWords by HP. You will be competing with these people. Differentiate yourself with ideas.
  • “All art is exploitation.” – Sherman Alexie

2:00 pm-3:15 pm – 13. Good vs. Great Design: A RepriseCameron Moll
In this update on last year’s popular session, Cameron Moll will help you discern the difference between good and great design. You’ll get practical techniques for tipping the scales of greatness in your favor, discover why a problem-focused approach is so important and explore examples of good vs. great design from all forms of creativity. [Slides - PDF]

3:45 pm-5:00 pm – 17. Curiously Curious: Seeing Art in EverythingKen Carbone
Using pages from his personal journals as illustration, Ken Carbone will show you how he draws ideas from art, design, science, architecture, film, technology, music and life. He’ll explain that inspiration is everywhere, every minute of every day, and show you that exploring the outside (read: non-design) world will make you a better designer.

  • Examples of inspiration: Casa Malapart – on an Italian island, featured in Jean-Luc Godard’s 1963 film Contempt
  • Nanoguitar – first song played: “Stairway to Heaven”
  • Thelonius Monk – master of knowing what not to play (not too dense; to make the work stronger)
  • Tara Donovan’s plastic cup art: “To see the potential is something so banal is unbelievably wonderful.”
  • William Kentridge – master draftsman/animated films/charcoal filmmaker
  • What makes a great client?
    1. Courage
    2. Collaboration (not being a “Vendor”)
    3. Commitment (money, time, resources)
    4. Cash!
  • Thousand Words company brought these movies to market: A Scanner Darkly, Pi, Requiem for a Dream. Then Thousand Words created Aether Apparel (a hybrid of Patagonia/Prada) – higher priced sporting goods.
  • Fast Company articles:
  • The unknown is what drives him, learning to embrace what he doesn’t know, and wanting to learn new things.
  • His sketchbook: “I’m having a conversation with that particular artist. It’s private.”
  • The velocity of life is something he has no interest in. He’s going deeper, taking time to focus of things that are deeply meaningful. You have to write slower with a fountain pen. The journal slows him down and he appreciates life more deeply now. He’d be perfectly fine with just the art that exists in the world right now, if nothing else was ever created. Because that would make him go back and take another look, appreciate the art that does exist more deeply. Nothing is more important to him than his team’s/staff’s level of intellectual curiosity/capacity, not even their portfolios. Intellectual capacity has to match or exceed their creative capacity.
  • His book: The Virtuoso: Face to Face With 40 Extraordinary Talents.

Continue to HOW Design 2010 in review: Part two »

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