IDC 2018: High-Tech, Human-Centered Design
IDSA's International Design Conference took a humanistic approach to futuristic design.
The International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) Ceremony & Gala at the National WWII Museum kicked off the conference on Wednesday evening, followed by two full days of presentations and an Education Symposium on Saturday at the Sugar Mill event space in New Orleans' Warehouse District.
Themes and Trends
The predominant theme of the conference was collaborative design, with many speakers emphasizing the importance of multidisciplinary teams and using technology to better connect with coworkers and customers.
Steve Selzer's keynote, "Design for Confrontation," centered on technology's fundamental paradox: that the same system has increased the possibilities of human connection and, at the same time, increased feelings of disconnection and isolation. We tend to hide behind screens to avoid uncomfortable conversations, Selzer said, because many of us, understandably, dislike confrontation and friction with others. However, Selzer said that removing all friction from our lives precludes opportunities for valuable confrontation, serendipity, and personal growth.
"We value growth, but would love a shortcut," Selzer said. "Instead, we need to help people develop the mindset and skills to have the uncomfortable conversation and work through it."
Other speakers encouraged industrial, user experience, and interactive designers to collaborate, and to use the Internet of Things (IoT) to better communicate, strategize, and streamline their operations. Many agreed that focusing on the human element, both in collaboration and in creating value for the end user, not only makes for better products, but also for better use of data, technology, and big design trends.
The buzziest trends include:
Recyclable and sustainable materials, like bioplastics
Digital twin software for complex designs, like HVAC control systems
Generative design, in which artificial intelligence algorithms dictate the design process
Virtual prototyping, voice control, and holograms, to show what products will look like without having to build a physical model
3D printing everything, from wearable tech to drone arms to medical devices
Chris Livaudais, executive director of IDSA, gave a presentation on Friday that looked back on the past year and forward to the future.
Since its 2017 global conference, IDSA and its Board of Directors made four significant changes:
Selecting Livaudais to lead the organization after the former executive director, Daniel Martinage, retired in 2017
Unveiling a new and improved Association Management System to make payments and connecting with other members easier
Producing IDSA's first Women + Design event
Launching Group Membership, with more than 300 members in 48 groups to date
The 38th annual IDEA competition also hit a new record this year with 1,872 entries.
Livaudais said that IDSA's staff is working on a new manifesto and future vision to support its four strategic pillars: advocacy, community, information, and education. "This event, where you're sitting right now, is the first pivot point," he said. Eschewing "stuffy" hotel ballrooms for more modern, open spaces like the Sugar Mill for future conferences, he added, is part of IDSA's ongoing mission to reinvigorate and reinvent itself.
On that note, Livaudais ended the presentation with an announcement, to excited applause: IDC 2019 will take place in Chicago.
Awards and Honors
Paul Hatch, president of TEAMS Design Chicago, and Steven Umbach, president of Umbach Consulting Group, became the newest members of the IDSA Academy of Fellows (FIDSA) during an induction ceremony on Friday.
During Saturday's IDSA/Eastman Innovation Lab Education Symposium, the 2018 Student Merit Award winners from IDSA's District Design Conferences presented their work. The winners are: Ryan Cunningham, ArtCenter College of Design, for the West District; Wen Hua, Georgia Tech, for the South; Jacob Rynkiewicz, the University of Illinois at Chicago, for the Midwest; and Xiaoyong Wang, Pratt Institute, for the Northeast.
Also on Saturday, Adam Feld, assistant professor of industrial design at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, won the 2018 IDSA Young Educator of the Year Award.
Karen Hoffman, chair of the undergraduate Product Design Department at the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, CA, received the 2018 IDSA Educator of the Year Award.
During the IDEA ceremony on Wednesday, a panoply of designers across a wide range of industries accepted their awards:
Automotive & Transportation: MOTORoid
Branding: Wireless Audio VL Series Visual Identity System
Children’s Products: SNOO; Posse Chair
Commercial & Industrial: Intel SSD Ruler; Magic Carpet Pro; RADIUS Temporary Site Light; Square Regis
Consumer Technology: Google Home Max & Google Home Mini; Google Pixelbook & Pixelbook Pen; Google Pixel 2, Google Pixel 2 XL, and Google Pixel 2 Cases; Light L16
Design Strategy: TurboTax Visual System Redesign
Digital Interaction: The Definitive Autonomous Car Experience, designed by Native Design for Ford Motor Co.
Entertainment: Nuraphone; VIVE Focus
Environment: SEAT; Transmission-Field Tandem; TURF Acoustic Ceiling Tile System
Furniture and Lighting: Flirt Collection; Fulton Rocker for HBF
Home: GROHE Sense & Sense Guard; Nest Cam IQ Outdoor; Nest Secure
Medical & Health: Abaxis VetScan VUE; Eargo
Office & Accessories: Expansion Cityline
Service Design: Southwest Airlines’ Wayfinding Prototype
Student Designs: Stance Prosthesis: Beauty, Function, Affordability; The Urbanette, A Home Like No Other; U-pen; WIM - Interactive Stroke Therapy
Plastics Innovation Award: Eargo
Curator’s Choice: SNOO
Chair’s Award: Eargo
People’s Choice: Turbotax Visual System Recognition
Best in Show: WIM - Interactive Stroke Therapy