HOW Design Live Strategy Sessions at SVA

When Veronika Scott, founder and CEO of The Empowerment Plan, took the stage on Day Five of HOW Design Live in Atlanta she captivated all of us with her story.


While studying industrial design at Detroit’s College for Creative Studies, Scott was tasked with designing something that would fill a social need. After months of interviews and other field research at a local homeless shelter she produced the prototype for a unique coat that redefines the meaning of functional—the high-performing coat actually transforms into a waterproof sleeping bag at night.

Later, she was able to turn this class assignment into a Detroit business that offers employment to homeless and helps them move off the street.

Veronika Scott’s inspirational presentation is just one of many compelling keynotes from the 2016 line-up that we’re still talking about months later. And according to our attendee survey results, you are too.

We’re glad we got it right, but we take nothing for granted. We’re always thinking about how to make the conference even better. Our goal is for all attendees to walk away with renewed design inspiration. We also provide tips from famous graphic designers who share how they implemented creativity and innovation to reach new heights in their creative careers.

Planning the next HOW Design Live is a year-round project.

As always, in Atlanta we watched to see which sessions were the best attended and we noted attendee reactions to the program day by day. If you chatted with any member of the team in Atlanta, your feedback got passed along.

SVA exterior

Immediately after the conference we organized a two-day strategy meeting with the HOW Design Live Program Partners at the School of Visual Arts—Masters of Branding program in New York. Thank you to Program Partner Debbie Millman for making this meeting space available to us!

With the summer strategy sessions we officially kicked off planning for next year’s HOW Design Live.

Save the date: May 2-6, 2017 at Hyatt Regency Chicago!

First on the agenda was a recap of anecdotal feedback plus an in-depth look at the attendee survey results, and then we discussed what the research is telling us.

For example, how did attendees rate the break-out sessions and keynotes? Which design heroes should we invite back next year? Are there any new trends in visual communication we missed? Or evergreen topics that need to be revisited? Should we tweak the program tracks to eliminate redundancies?

We also talked about the HOW Design Live exhibit hall. We know that attendees line up outside on opening day and they return multiple times throughout the conference to visit with exhibitors. Are there other types of programming and activities that would further enhance the exhibit hall experience?

And we brainstormed taglines and themes and talked about the structure of the program. Should the sessions be longer or shorter… or are they just the right length?

These are some of the features we’re thinking about adding to the design conference based on market feedback:

  • Master classes and workshops for a deeper dive into topics that can’t be covered in a regular-length breakout session;
  • Short spark sessions throughout the day to ignite creative thinking with a fresh/unusual/unexpected point of view;
  • More “play” activities that integrate design with the city of Chicago. Design studio tours, typography tours, film screenings and architectural boat rides are just some of the ideas we’re exploring.

What would your programming strategy be for HOW Design Live 2017 when it touches down in Chicago? Reach me at