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Design Currency – Opening Keynote

Design Currency – Opening Keynote

Here are some of my notes from the opening Keynote (and my thinking in italics). One thing I learned: never follow a TED prize winner. Hat tip to Don for that tough spot and for sharing the potential design has at the political and cultural levels.

Helen Walters, editor Innovation and Design at Bloomberg Business Week (an edited version of her talk can be found here):

  • Demonstrate value in terms non-designers can understand (something all disciplines face, as Jay Cross describes).
  • Design thinking in danger of being a fad – how do we prevent that?
  • Critical that C-suite is educated about design (wouldn’t mini-sessions on design thinking, change, learning, motivation etc be fantastic?!).


Cameron Sinclair, chief eternal optimist at Architecture for Humanity (recovering architect and TED prize winner)

  • We’re the ‘over-developed world’; they aren’t the ‘under-developed world’.
  • Place for refugees from the corporate world; work hand in hand; real designers are the community.
  • Even if someone has lost everything, still value the aesthetic; they also think about future generations (why have tree there? That is where my grandchildren will sit).
  • Aid agencies; like trying to turn an oil tanker (corruption).
  • Haiti – how to communicate? Flash cards, not 100 page PDF, using videos (what’s wrong, how to fix) (interesting how much of corporate world uses text to communicate to employees – we too could these ideas. Further idea – webinars for customers on little educational tidbits!).
  • Re-think the way we educate a nation (content comes from the inside out).
  • Aid agencies need to open source everything – share it (criminal not to).
  • Haiti won’t wait; already re-building using same methods that contributed to the devastation.
  • Earthquakes don’t kill people – buildings kill people.
  • Can you make a living trying to design social change? Yes – can work within a company and for social change. You can be a pirate within the ship; spend 1% of your time, look for ways to make a difference in the work that you do.

Don Ryun Chang, past president Icograda, branding and design management

  • How do we reinterpret tradition?
  • Proclamation in China: design is very important (to create innovation, progress, create identity).
  • Mayor of a city (13M population); design most important agenda.
  • Oullim = perfect harmony (loved this!).
  • Tune nature, humans, and technology.
  • Harmonize east and west, equal footing of all individuals and nature.

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