Several months ago, I stumbled upon the Twitter account of Compostmodern conference, who were at the time giving away a ticket to whoever could best articulate why they deserved to win. I entered despite never having heard of the conference at the time, because I have long intended to attend more design related events outside of school.
Somehow, my 140 characters won, and last weekend I headed off to Compostmodern ’11. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect—I knew the conference was about design and sustainability, but the latter is a common buzzword that is frequently overused. Green-ness has become a fad that sells, and many companies advertise their eco-friendliness for the sake of proit, rather than out of
concern for the environment. I was curious to see how to the conference would approach the issue, and how the various speakers’ topics would relate to it.
There were a total of 18 speakers, all from various disciplines within design. Among them were Alissa Walker, writer for GOOD who functioned as the conference’s moderator; Yves Behar, industrial designer and founder of fuseproject; Janine James of the Moderns; Scott Thomas, who designed the 2008 presidential campaign for Barack Obama, as well as the whitehouse.gov website; Julie Cordua, Communications Director at (RED); Marc Mathieu, former head of Marketing at Coca Cola; and Bruce Mau.
Although the minority of the conference was pertained to graphic design, it is my belief that it is extremely important for every designer to develop an appreciation for every discipline of design, and not just your own. By broadening your horizon, you can !nd great inspiration when paying attention to industrial, architecture and interior design.
The most fascinating topic of the conference was to me the discussion of how we can make ecofriendly products appealing. Often, “green” products come at an extra cost, and in the case of reused, shared or recycled objects, you’re !ghting the common misconception that “new is better.” However, as more and more businesses embrace the idea of a sharing service, it becomes apparent that sharing, as opposed to owning, is not only more environmentally friendly, but also more convenient for the customer.
The second day of the conference, aptly named UnConference, let everyone contribute. During a planning session, everyone got the opportunity to propose their own topics and to lead a discussion group. Some of the groups drew more attention and participants than others, but this was all in all a very interesting concept and spurred great conversations, of both a small and large scale.
I was very impressed by the Compostmodern’s identity design, which was done by the Berkeley firm Addis Creson. Consisting of Helvetica Bold coupled with large, brightly colored shapes, the branding reflected the positive and creative outlook the conference speakers embody. I couldn’t be happier that I got the opportunity to attend this event, which was invaluable both in the wisdom I gained, and the people I was able to see and speak to. It’s incredibly motivational to hear such a great gathering of designers share their work and their ideas, and I can only aspire to one day be able to join them up there on stage.