The Design Conference is truly one of a kind. It’s a unique setting where creative stories and work feel much more relatable and intimate than at any other conference I’ve been to. It’s a real peek behind the curtain, where you see that people’s journeys are rarely as perfect as our curated digital selves pretend to be.
This year’s TDC showed me that the creative industry has come a long way, and its eyes are squarely on a better future for us all. Of course, there is still much to be done, but evidence of positive steps forward was everywhere. I heard conversations both on and off the stage that demonstrated how different our industry is starting to feel. There’s a push towards accountability, and people evaluating the drivers behind our design work. There was a collective consciousness that intensified with each speaker and conversation, resoundingly becoming the heartbeat of this year’s TDC.
An undeniable spirit ran through every moment of this experience. From the ticket sales to the heartfelt closing, it’s clear that this spirit comes from founder, Matthew Haynes. In his infectious energy and ultimate realness, you see the tip of the blood, sweat and tears iceberg that goes into making TDC bigger and brighter every year. A huge thanks goes to Matt for being such an incredible figure within the design industry and making this magic happen. In the spirit of continuing to spread this magic, here are some of my reflections on this year’s conference.
Choose to challenge
A growing discourse that has rumbled through recent TDCs is that we need to challenge the drivers, goals and ways we operate in order to create the good we want to see in the world. So, good is the new cool was again a hot topic, but it was expressed this year with more noise, more urgency and more action.
Johanna Roca from For The People made us question our core being. Her emphasis was on aligning one’s personal value system with one’s work ethic as being the only acceptable way to work. Jo admitted that it was an extreme privilege to be able to pick the clients you work with, but in any case, we should always question the problems that we are trying to solve. Linda Jukic of Accompany inspired us to challenge what is considered to be the norm or the expectations of others, and to have the courage to pursue our own journey, even if that means you having to pave your own path.
Almost every speaker at the conference had an underlying theme of stepping up to challenge and change, proving that our industry is making good on that lofty ideal of designing our new future.