This Re:Design Conference. What Paula Scher, Wilco, Dana Arnett, and The Band Everest have in common

Palm Springs, 2011

I went to college with this great guy, creative director and total design Jedi, Roger Wong, who curated the first Re:Design/Inspire conference I was involved in. The conference was held at the legendary Ace Hotel in Palm Springs in 2011. On that alone, it was going to be a great time. However, Roger brought brilliant creative directors from across the country to lead small, interactive group sessions. This make the experience like some kind of design thinking summer camp, with creative industry stars as the counselors. A good number of session leaders were from my alma mater, The California College of the Arts in San Francisco. CCA has a wonderful community of creative leaders, so getting the time to talk creatively and hang out with Eric Heiman of Volume Design, Cinthia Wen of NOON, Christopher Simmons of MINE, Neil Zimmerman at Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners, Mark Fox and Angie Wang of Design is Play all by the pool at the Ace Palm Springs was kind of great.

The focus of the conference was on creative process. For my session, I wanted to draw on a core part of my creative experience, design for music. We created a workshop where the rock band Everest performed, while the conference created artwork live, by hand, in direct response to the music. No computers were used in the session, so people were limited to the source material provided. Press proofs, magazines, markers, scissors, It was great to see design friends and colleagues, no matter what their visual style or experience, roll up their sleeves and make art as the band rocked.

The band Everest was extremely generous to engage in this experiment. Instead of their usual dark room, club, or full concert hall (they have played Madison Square Garden) with an audience watching them play, the band belted out their songs in a bright room, in the late afternoon, while every designer looked down at their work, not at them, as the conference cut, glued, assembled posters during the set. A very un typical rock band playing environment. At the end of the set for everyone, Everest would pick one of the artworks for use on one of their singles. The band had a lot of fun. In addition to getting a weekend at the Ace Palm Springs, they were really very into the entire creative experiment.

Of course for the designers it was challenging as well, their materials, access to images, sources, process, were all limited by what we could provide at the session for that hour. But, it was inspiring to work traditional paste-up collage style, while a full 5 piece rock group performs...It was a lot of fun. 

 

The band Everest

The band Everest

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The Ace Hotel Palm Springs

The Ace Hotel Palm Springs

Design by hand as the band plays.

Design by hand as the band plays.

The following day I was incredibly honored to facilitate a keynote conversation with Pentagram Partner and design legend Paula Scher. 

Paula shared all  fascinating stories on her work not just as a designer but as a painter. Part of her keynote visit was in support of the release of her book of paintings of maps. She had a great grouping of her work that she was able to access easily as she spoke. Covering her design with Pentagram Partners, before that at Koppel & Scher, and even one story from even before that, on her time at CBS Records, and her experience working with the band Boston.

From the very first Re:Design event, it was an incredible group of speakers. 

Keynote conversation with Paula Scher. 

Keynote conversation with Paula Scher. 

Paula Scher Keynote conversation

Paula Scher Keynote conversation

Its difficult not to have a fantastic time in Palm Springs.

Its difficult not to have a fantastic time in Palm Springs.

Chicago 2012

The next Re:Design conference i was part of was September 2012 in Chicago. I have a long relationship with that city, and a good part that is from my 15+ years of working with the Chicago based band Wilco. Continuing the exploration of the intersection of music, design and creativity, we had a very special creative session at the loft and professional home of Wilco. The Wilco loft has been the workspace of the American rock group for over 20 years. In a very industrial building and a neighborhood that is not on the beaten path, one climbs five flights in a freezing stair well and enters this loft, to find a museum of instruments, and a densely creative space. The very room where a lot of great music was made, crafted, and recorded. It was very generous of Wilco to open their home to us.

Ever the great hosts (visit Wilco's Solid Sound Festival at solidsoundfestival.com) one of Wilco's managers Ben Levin flew in to join us, and we talked about the stories behind building the band's album art, then listened to some of the band's music in the studio where they made that very music. 

The group of Re:Design visitors to the Wilco loft.

The group of Re:Design visitors to the Wilco loft.

One of Wilco's managers Ben Levin and I talk about the album art making process at the loft visit. 

One of Wilco's managers Ben Levin and I talk about the album art making process at the loft visit. 

Another Chicago connection of mine, the summer of my junior year in college, i interned for Dana Arnett and VSA Partners back when the design agency had many awards and a staff of only 35, they now have a staff of 300, and many more awards. It was a very long time since that summer internship, and honestly, i was not the best intern. I once parked Arnett's car in a ticket zone for starters. That is all for a different blog post. Regardless, after all of these years, Dana Arnett was also very generous and gave an inspiring keynote the second day of the conference on the incredible creative thinking VSA has been generating. 

A not so great picture of a great keynote talk with Dana Arnett. 

A not so great picture of a great keynote talk with Dana Arnett. 

Other great creative leaders hosted sessions that required engagement, get out of your seat participation, discussion and thinking that made this conference experience totally memorable and valuable. An incredible group including Martin Venesky, Dawn Hancock of Firebelly Design, John Bielenberg, Brian Singer of iamsomeguy.com, Jason Katz of Pixar, Wally Krantz of The Brand Union and many many others made it an incredibly inspiring two days. 

Brian Singer of iamsomeguy.com and Roger Wong in action during Shannon Downey's workshop on absurdity.

Brian Singer of iamsomeguy.com and Roger Wong in action during Shannon Downey's workshop on absurdity.

Los Angeles 2013

This fall, October 21-22, here in Los Angeles I am excited to continue my involvement with Re:Design as the Symposiarch for their Los Angeles conference. Curating this has been an incredible experience. Working with Re:Design producers Ashli Lewis and Missy Robertson-Wong, on almost a year long project in building a two day experience that I hope will be an exceptional creative experience for everybody involved.

The theme of this conference is Inspire. 

The guests leading sessions are creative directors, architects, educators, photographers, artists, graphic designers, illustrators, leaders from the music and restaurant industry. An amazing group of Los Angeles creative leaders are hosting sessions, but it is also great to have great to have four very esteemed guests from The Bay Area, Jennifer Sterling from New York, The Heads of State from Philadelphia, and Cameron Campbell of Teague in from Seattle. We are joined by two session leaders in the AGI (Alliance Graphique Internationale), one rock star photographer, the president of Elektra Records, and a very impressive group of design educators from the California College of The Arts in San Francisco.

Inspiration, creative work and thinking is in practice in every form of industry and society today. In one of our sessions, KCRW host of "Good Food" and Proprietor and Chef of Angeli Caffe, Evan Kleiman hosts a conversation with Christopher Simmons, Principal/Creative Director at MINE on inspiration and creative thinking in the restaurant world. Christopher's studio MINE is behind the award winning visual design for numerous in the Bay Area.

Click through here for individual session topics and a more comprehensive look at the great group of session leaders: 

http://www.redesignconference.com/conferences/inspire/ 

The whole conference is limited to 125 people. This limited size really allows for a range of conversation from everybody in the group.

 

a range of creative thinkers, architects, artists, designers, photographers, from across the country

a range of creative thinkers, architects, artists, designers, photographers, from across the country

The conference is In a great location at The Smog Shoppe, part of Culver City where galleries like Blum & Poe, Samuel Freeman, and Kopekin have taken root. The close proximity to thirty art galleries will extend the conference from the main site. Being able to visit the galleries will add to the creative experience.  The conference site itself is inspiring on its own. Developed by a CCA alumni, The Smog Shoppe is literally an oasis in the city. Covered in cactus, indoor and out door, the venue is a reflection of the neighborhood, industrial and creative. Some sessions will also be held in the Samuel Freeman Gallery next door.

Some conference sessions will be in neighboring Samuel Freeman Gallery. 

Some conference sessions will be in neighboring Samuel Freeman Gallery. 

Conference Pop Up shop will be at the gallery

Conference Pop Up shop will be at the gallery

Conference venue, The Smog Shoppe.

Conference venue, The Smog Shoppe.

Conference venue, The Smog Shoppe

Conference venue, The Smog Shoppe

The conference will have a Pop Up Shop! Many of the speakers have art, merchandise, books, and work that we had to provide a chance to not just talk about inspiration, but to come home with some of it as well. 

Some of the guest session leaders with work in the Pop-Up shop.

Some of the guest session leaders with work in the Pop-Up shop.

I am hosting a session with Nathan Sherdoff, Program Chair, MBA in Design Strategy at California College of the Arts on a personal passion we that we both share in design and Concorde, the suppersonic passenger jet. 

Supersonicsite.com

Supersonicsite.com

I'll have some elements from my personal project on Concorde in the Pop-Up Shop. The black Supersonic Sleepmask, and this 16 x 24 five color silk screen.

Concorde five color silk screen 16 x 24

Concorde five color silk screen 16 x 24

I hope to see you at Re:Design/Inspire 2013. 

 

If you can't make it to Culver City, visit the incredible conference curated by Wally Krantz of The Brand Union November 4-5 at the Wythe Hotel, in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. 

He has built an incredible group of creative leaders. 

http://www.redesignconference.com/conferences/cd/