Our highlights

Last month, a trio of us attended Dynamic MTL’s first day-long conference: One & All.

I tagged along with Jenn Lamb, our Creative Director, and Véronique Pelletier, our Junior Interactive Designer. It was a jam-packed program, with a promising slate of prominent designers and entrepreneurs. Here are some of our highlights.

Andrew Herzog — HAWRAF

HAWRAF is a weird design studio, the good kind of weird. Andrew’s core message was about interaction, and putting things out into the world that invite a response.

He presented a fascinating array of projects that put that ethos into practice in unexpected ways. It was also inspiring to see their team collaborating on projects just for fun.

HAWRAF was founded by Andrew and his colleagues Carly Ayres and Nicky Tesla at Google Creative Labs, so we got a taste
of his work there as well.

“It was really interesting to put a face behind who worked on the AutoDraw project from Google. You never know who actually works on those projects and what else they have done. It’s also great to hear about these designers speaking about working at Google as if it’s no big deal.”

Véronique Pelletier

Go draw all over HAWRAF’s website.

Alan Gertner — Tokyo Smoke

It’s coming. Recreational use of marijuana is going to be legal next year in Canada. Alan’s presentation traced weed’s consumption journey from the furtive puffing on a joint behind the dépanneur to high end ingestibles and accessories. And he went over some pretty eye-opening numbers that suggest how big this industry is about to get. 

As he pointed out, if 1 in 4 Canadians will admit to a telephone surveyor that they consume marijuana, imagine what that number is closer to in real life. As cannabis consumption comes into the mainstream, it’s time to shed the hippie aesthetic.

“A subject close to my heart, Alan Gertner spoke of how he set out to ‘class up the stoner image’. With medical marijuana profits soaring year after year, it’s high time (pun intended) that stigma was challenged. Taking weed to the level of third wave coffee and craft beer, Gertner developed a beautifully designed line of products for purveyors of fine buds.”

Jenn Lamb 

Explore the classier side of cannabis with Tokyo Smoke.

Sebastian Speier — Nike SNKRS app

I think we all knew that people can get really INTO sneakers. But, like, REALLY INTO sneakers. It turns out that’s a problem for Nike, as “Sneakerhead” culture has reached such a frenzy that people are employing bots to buy up stock of limited editions and resell them at a premium. In an effort to thwart the hoarders, Nike set out to do something that designers usually avoid: create friction. 

Sebastian showed us how Nike gamified the sneaker-buying experience, making users prove their dedication to gain access to presales of limited edition sneaks.

“I really loved hearing about their creative process and commitment to making their valued customers happy, while also making them work to get those limited edition shoes. It’s impressive to hear about the dedication on both sides.”

Véronique Pelletier

Are you a Sneakerhead? Check out Nike’s SNKRS app.

Lindsay Ballant — The Baffler

After hearing a lot of cool people talking about all the cool things they’ve done, Lindsay’s presentation was a major breath of fresh air. 

She cracked open the so-called “design lifestyle” and urged us all to resist snowballing ourselves into a homogenized Instagram feed of perfect lattes and sparse workspaces. 

She advocated building a life based around autonomy rather than status, and to operate within an environment that supports failure.

“I’m so glad that Lindsay was a part of this conference. She gave us a powerful reminder to stay sharp, stay critical, and not get swept up in whatever’s trendy.“ 

Erin Whitney

Go see what inspires Lindsay.

Maura Cass — IDEO

I won’t say they saved the best for last, but hearing from Maura was the perfect way to end the day. IDEO uses research and design to solve big, real problems. 

Maura talked about the importance of building sincere human relationships as central to design work, and the importance of not only empathy (the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes), but compassion (the desire to help).

“It’s amazing to see someone who began with ambitions for medical school turn their focus to design research. It really seems to have imbued her with a strong sense of empathic design — “a user-centered design approach that pays attention to the user’s feelings toward a product” — which is very fitting to their core value of helping people, first and foremost, and something I feel is central to our work.” 

Jenn Lamb

Check out how IDEO designs change.

Big thanks to Dynamic MTL for such an interesting and thought-provoking day!

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