In 2012, I volunteered at the DRC and I was truly inspired by the speakers and design community. When the call for conference chairs was announced, I was excited to engage with such a great community on a deeper level.
I was aware that serving as a conference chair was a considerable amount of work as a volunteer position, but I was excited by the challenge. The conference was also a chance to work with fellow students on a long-term project and represent my voice in the design community.
As a team, we decided on a conference theme, identified and invited speakers, selected a venue, created a brand and core marketing message, solicited attendees and coordinated 30 student volunteers. While aligning as a team was sometimes difficult, it became an asset as every major decision was made with due diligence and robust discussion.
Our conference theme, “Exploring Creative Balance in Design,” juxtaposed the forces of ego and empathy, in addition to, technology and humanity. These forces effect designers internally and externally throughout the design process. Good design, we argue, requires a balancing act of these forces to develop truly user-centered design. We selected speakers and environment that encourage designers to confront how these forces influence their actions.
I essentially served as the lead co-chair, coordinating meeting and production schedules, interfacing with the school administration, managing key portions of the budget, and keeping the team and volunteers on track. I was responsible for managing the graphics team that developed event collateral and signage and the teams responsible for lunchtime flow and interactions outside of the main conference hall.
As a student conference, we aimed to create some debate in the field and select speakers that brought with them strong opinions and open minds. Our stage included Rhiju Das, whose lab created the EteRNA online game and Don Norman, a legendary designer. Social innovators Linda Pulik and Siobhan Gregory shared a stage with Darlene Damm, a alum of Singularity University. Additional speakers from Google Creative Lab, Stanford University, IDEO, MAYA Design and others sparked dialogue on how and why designers do what they do.
After the event, participants really enjoyed our choice of the Field Museum as a venue and thought it a unique and exciting difference from typical design conferences.
I took on this project as a challenge to contribute to the broader discussions in design. In the process, I also learned a good deal about my own working style, assets and areas to improve.
More details about the conference can be found here: http://drc.id.iit.edu/
Core77 produced sketchnotes on the conference, which can be found here: http://www.core77.com/blog/sketchnotes/sketchnotes_of_iit_institute_of_designs_design_research_conference_2013_by_stefani_bachetti_25727.asp