Hlín Helga is the curator if the 2016 DesignTalks, a day of inspiring discussions and seminars held at Harpa each year as part of DesignMarch. The theme for 2016 in innovation—looking at innovative products, but also how to cultivate an innovative design practise.
Hlín Helga talked us through the international guests who’ll be speaking.
Hlín Helga: Only a few of our guests, or perhaps even none, would go around claiming they were innovative designers, waving a flag and saying: “I stand for innovation!” But there’s something underlying both their thinking and their doing that ventures into new territories. Also, they’re talking about things they’ve actually done—projects that have been implemented. It’s not just being crazy, creative and speculative—these are projects where the car has been driven home. We’re talking about everything from designing clothes that read the environment around us to redesigning government. There’s a wide spectrum in their practises.
Lauren Bowker believes technology is magic. And just by stating that, she’s putting technology in a different light. She’s doing research and working with scientists in different fields, working for Airbus, Formula One, big clients like that, who are interested in new materials that can read data from their surroundings. She’s working on textiles that can read brainwaves. She’s called The Fashion Witch, which should give you some idea.
Studio Swine is an Anglo-Japanese couple who work around the world, running research lab design. They look at ways of using design as a tool, but in unexpected ways. They’re interested in localising systems in a globalised world, and in themes like sustainability. For example, they went out into the ocean to collect plastic to use as a material. Their work is in the spirit of asking new questions, or turning things upside down.
Maria Lisogorskaya of Assemble will flesh out for us what their process is like. The group is interested in bridging the gap between the public and the decision-makers in urban planning. They’re interested in talking to people in less well-off neighbourhoods about how to revive a particular street or area. They use those dreams as a resource… but they’re very concerned with the design methodology of action, and doing things. Maria’s talk is on “learning by making”—very inspiring.
Tom Loosemore was responsible for the gov.uk project—a very large-scale digital transformation of something very stale. This government website changes the interaction that people have with information—and they can get in touch with real people, behind the system. It’s design that radically changes thet way in which government and power structures communicate with the public and with individuals, which is innovative in spirit.
Maria Giudice works on experience design at Facebook. Before that, she had her own startup experience design company in Silicon Valley, so she has experience from both cultures. She posits theories on “leadership by design,” saying that design is perhaps forming a new generation of leaders. She called this generation DEOs—Design Executive Officers. She says these are people who are creative, but analytical—they get shit done.
Jonathan Barnbrook is interesting because of his collaboration with David Bowie, of course, but he’s also an example of someone designers can relate to—he’s a graphic designer working with and for different types of highly creative people. He has a clear voice—but he’s also worked with groups like Occupy. There’s something very interesting in that, as a profile. To ask: “How do you nurture your creative spirit across these different areas?”
Finally, Marco Steinberg will also be here—he’s an architect but he’s focussed on helping leaders and government innovate. He’s from Finland and he’ll be moderating the day with me, then hosting an expert session on design and government, with some of the others. We also have some local voices in acclaimed illustrator and product designer Katrín Ólína, and Dr. Þorvaldur Ingvarsson from the Össur prosthetic limbs company.