The GOOD: The HOW/InHOWse Conference officially got underway on Monday, June 7 as designers from far and wide made their way to the Denver Convention Centre (and nearby Hyatt) to listen to speakers that would impart knowledge and justify our expense claims. My first (and favorite) session was titled "Leading By Influence" by the engaging, entertaining riCardo Crespo. Formerly the man behind the Hot Wheels brand at Mattel, riCardo is now employed at 20th Century Fox. As part of the InHOWse portion, he made sense of working within a box and stressed the importance of implementing a culture of collaboration (driving home the African phrase UBUNTU: "I am because we are"). Everything he said seemed logical and yet, most corporate environments do not implement the strategies that could only enhance them in the long run. Truly inspirational, I could have listened to riCardo for hours. The organizers of HOW should definitely invite him back next year.
Another great speaker was Chris Chapman of the Disney Design Group (but I'm not entirely unbiased as I'm a Mouse House fiend). His session discussed the best methods of getting rid of the frustration in terms of client relationships. I will choose to keep his wisdom to myself as the study of an individual's psyche can be a two-way street, however, I will state that it was really cool to witness the revision process that takes place at such an iconic, well beloved institution.
THE BAD: For every great speaker, however, there was one that made me want to walk out (and, at times, I did). It's always poor form to make other people feel, well, poor. And that is exactly what Jeni Herberger did during her session on "Becoming Priceless to Your Company". Coming out and apologizing for wearing the same shoes two days in a row (!?) and then bragging about spending thousands on them ("I don't shop at Payless, but you probably do") was offensive, not insightful, especially considering that the economic climate is still in a state of repair. I've read over my notes, but really the only thing I took away from this waste of an hour was that she *boo hoo* has recently had to do her own housework at homes in Seattle, Southern California and Hawaii. Tough life. Thanks for sharing.
Self-indulgence wasn't limited to the InHOWse sessions though. I attended a talk on "Good Design vs. Great Design" by Cameron Moll that turned out to be just an hour long spiel on his personal projects, including a limited edition typographic poster that was, we were repeatedly reminded, on sale in the onsite book store for only $100.00.
THE VERDICT: While it definitely seemed to be a mixed-bag of quality, I still feel as though I walked away a better, stronger designer, more resolved than ever in my decision to enter this profession years ago. As well, the bond that my colleagues and I formed over our week in Denver is now stronger than ever. We are a solid team, moving forward, aiming higher. In closing, I recommend the HOW/InHOWse Design Conference and hope to attend again next year in Chicago. I will probably be wearing the same shoes. I hope that's not a problem.