I came to The Conference in Malmö, Sweden as a user experience designer in transition and found it not just inspiring but profound and moving, even tearing up a few times. This past year I’ve been following a a few vague, disparate leads looking for a more holistic vision of design which amazingly materialized at this one gathering. It felt like thee new new and the most interesting potential future to be a part of.
This is the first time I’ve seen ethical and effective approaches to design practice considered at all levels – from macro-economic systems, business and organizational structure, through the design process, down to UI executions and employee support. I’m not sure the word design quite covers it. There were ethnographers, journalists, chefs, researchers and artists working in a range of environments – as solo practitioners, within large corporations, at universities, and at small agencies and collectives. The Conference is not a design conference per se but aims to “explore complexity and trends in the digital world”. There is no defined medium, discipline or industry since it depends on the problem – many of which require multiple platforms and connections between organizations and silos. It’s more a sensibility, materializing based on the focus of the practitioner. Projects have the scale and complexity common in the tech/startup world without the hyper-capitalism (Uber for social infrastructure!) There’s the sophistication, innovation, and high visual/production value commonly reserved for customer-facing corporations and luxury markets, but with the goal of creating a better society.