I just returned from two days at the Gravity Free Design conference in Chicago entitled Outlaws & Icons. It was a great chance for myself and one of our Kiosk Design industrial designers to get out of the office and meet up with some other professionals in design for a few days. Plus, it being in Chicago was a treat in itself. Chicago is a very design friendly city, and extremely clean for such a big city.
At the conference they showcase over 20 designers that speak on whatever topic they wish for 15 – 20 minutes. There were world famous designers such as George Lois, Chip Kidd, James Victore, Javier Mariscal, and Iris van Herpen. Most everyone there comes from a different background. There were designers for everything from Architecture, Ads, Fashion, Retail, Typography, Landscape, Interior, and Games.
Chip Kidd shared his new DC Comics Batman novel, Death By Design, with us and the story of how it came about. Iris van Herpen showed us the couture fashion she creates using rapid prototyping techniques. James Victore shared an interior design project he did for the New York department of corrections which was awesome. It actually looked like a place you wouldn’t mind going if you were on probation. He basically said the people that have to report there are treated less than dirt and probably always have been.
He wanted it to be a nice place to go to to help ease the mood and to make these people feel like someone actually gives a damn. He’s currently looking for ways to track how the new design might change people’s outlook on life.
George Lois was the main speaker and gave about a 30 minute speech on his life and career. George is certainly one of the original Mad Men from the 60’s. He did over 90 covers of Esquire magazine. His Esquire work has been on display at MoMA.
While I didn’t agree with everything he said it was certainly neat to sit and listen to someone so iconic in the design world. And for whatever reason prior to his speech, during lunch he ended up sitting next to me and we chatted for a good 30 minutes. I had to laugh when he told me if I ever bend to a clients will I’ll forever remain mediocre. Not sure if I can say I agree with that one because he contradicted himself several times during his speech on the same topic. I must have argued enough during lunch to make him try to appear less rigid on the thought.
The conference gave me good perspective on how design can make the world a better place. I think we’re starting to see some of that in kiosks now. The challenged is to find more customers that want to create something to make society better. Not just faster and cheaper…