HOW CONFERENCE NOTES: Days 2, 3 & 4 / by Deborah Clague

So I meant to have a liveblog going throughout the duration of the HOW Conference in Chicago...however, I got carried away in the windy city and could only get around to it now. My bad. This was such an enjoyable event; not only did the conference provide a much needed jolt of inspiration, but the city itself - and its colourful inhabitants - were a living, breathing piece of art. The architecture was unlike anything I have ever seen before. As a co-worker commented, it was like the backdrop for a movie set. In our case it would be an indie flick starring picas, printers and Pantone chips, and here is the synopsis:

• My favourite session was "What the Future Wants From a Designer" for its honesty. This profession is not what it once was, and will likely morph into something altogether different in the future. Designers need to bring more to the table, rather than layout skills and the ability to use Photoshop. Everyone from our grandparents to the kid selling lemonade down the block has access to tools that can lead them to believe they are "designers" (or alternately, access to websites that offer $5 logos). We need to be actively involved in understanding sociological & scientific trends, strategy and developing "big picture ideas" that can influence human behavior. The session also included seven key trends for the future: 1) Simplistic Slowdown (people will not be buying as much); 2) Rentalism (sharing of goods); 3) "Maker Culture" (people become their own designers/marketers); 4) Desktop Fabrication (this was the bizarre/awesome example); 5) Embrace of the Imperfect; 6) Technology Will Become the Designer; 7) Science will redefine what it means to be human and will influence marketing more than focus groups. 

• The HOW Conference introduced me to artist Theo Jansen. His kinetic sculptures blow my mind. 

• Interesting that the Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) at Best Buy has seen an increase of productivity by 41% and a reduction of turnover by 45%. This is definitely how I've been accustomed to operating over the past few years and hopefully more businesses take note. 

I will write more about Chi-town over the weekend.