IxD16 – Day 1 recap and take-aways

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In a beautiful location, Interaction16 started out this morning with a truly great opening talk by @moia, and a beautiful piece of music, Max Richter’s recomposed four seasons. It was a fitting opening for a conference that will be about the evolution our field is having, changing from being designers, to system makers. Why? Because Richter transforms a very well known piece of music, making it new, but still recognisable to people only knowing the original. We’re in the middle of that as designers.


Marko Ahtisaari urged us to take time, stand still and -basically- think. which might be somewhat weird at the beginning of a 3-day 4-track conference, but I do resonate with the idea, and seems like a good thing to do this weekend, or really take some time off.


The next talk I went to was a lot more practical: John Waterworth works for the British government, and is one of the people behind gov.uk, which has been showered with praise for a good approach to designing for citizens.


John completely delivered, in a completely different way from Marko. Lots of practical tips around daily screen design, talk about accordions (don’t) and even box colours (!). If this sounds a bit like 2003, it’s because it is. But I can really appreciate a good system, and I completely understand there are practical problems that come with designing systems for this many people or services.


I kind of missed out on Matt Nish-lapidus’ talk. sorry Matt. Hear it was good, though.


After lunch, which was great and completely veggie (woohoo!), I went to Amber Cartwrights’ talk on data driven design. She is the design manager at Airbnb. Some nice insights there on how to better use data into your design process, and also how to make this kind of process better grounded into your organisation. Alas, this was only a 15 minute talk – would have loved to hear more. 


Conversations with Alice is a talk about Chatbot (mainly A.l.i.c.e.), by Pierluggi Dalla Rosa. He has a healthy obsession with the things, with resulted in a nicely alternative presentation with strong 90’s Wired magazine vibes to me, in the way it mixed culture and AI with strong William Gibson vibes


Antti oulasvirta is basically telling us the design singularity is nearing, in a talk that ends with a big ‘computers can design’ slide. I must admit that some of it was hodgepodge to me, but it does point to an interesting thing: as a profession, we are getting bigger, in a systems thinking way. At the same time, ‘simple’ design is slowly getting standardized and automated. Will be nice to see how this works out in five years.


(Happy hour!!!!)


After the happy hour, there’s a depressing message. Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino asks us where the designers are. She’s seeing a world where hardware tinkerers are more and more ruling the world, and kind of do that without designers – they’re all hardware people. Her keynote, with some great jokes and deadpan delivery, really boiled down to: find your local IOT/hardware tinkerer meetup and go there. They will like you. Which was a great message to take towards the opening reception, with the deputy mayor delivering the timeless line ‘Helsinki city is Young People City’. No dispute there :)