Creating a “Better Than Ever” HOW Design Live Program

“How are we going to top last year’s program?”

HOW community content director Bridgid Agricola says she and the rest of the HOW Design Live programming team asked themselves that question when they began meeting this summer following a hugely successful 2014 event. “It’s a daunting challenge,” she says.

2014 HDL attendees: HOW Design Live

“We always meet as a programming team and discuss what the designer working in the field right now is facing, and talk about what they’ll take away from the event. I take that responsibility seriously, to make sure attendees get a great return on their investment in coming to HOW Design Live.”

Better than Ever HOW Design Live

“The second part programming, of course, is the inspiration piece,” Bridgid continues. “It’s a huge factor in why creatives like myself attend: We want to feel refreshed and be exposed to new work. Planning the program is all about finding the right mix of information that attendees can take away and implement right away, and big-picture inspiration. We’re always looking to top the previous year, to bring in new and inspirational speakers and deliver the information that people need.”

We recently asked Bridgid to share what’s new on the 2015 HOW Design Live program and talk about how the event continues to evolve.

The design field is really changing — and fast. It’s becoming more cross-disciplinary, more collaborative, more strategic. It’s not just about pushing pixels and printing dots. What are you seeing in the design industry, and how is HOW Design Live addressing those changes?

The industry is changing — and designers need to respond to that and be prepared for clients and employers to expect that they’re capable and successful across a variety of disciplines. Designers have to be more marketing savvy, more business savvy, more involved in concepting, writing copy, getting involved in the project earlier in the process. It’s rare that designers just get handed a project that’s just to create a logo or a business card. Now, the project is, We need you to help us reach our customers, how are we going to best do that?

Designers, with their backgrounds of being problem-solvers, are really well suited to make that transition from tactical to strategic. And the conference has evolved in the very same way — I hope the program is challenging to designers, that it opens their minds to think that they’re capable of wearing all those hats and calms any fears that designers may have about the future of the industry.

The lineup of keynote speakers for 2015 is dynamite. When you’re considering those high-level presenters, what do you look for? What are the characteristics of a great HOW keynote presentation?

We try to bring a mix of different designers and creative leaders that come from diverse backgrounds and can share their stories about what their career path has been like and what they’ve learned. Stanley Hainsworth was a great example from 2014 of a great keynote that told an impactful story of a successful career in the design field — people could relate and get inspired by his story.

2014 HDL_Stanley Hainsworth; HOW Design Live

Stanley Hainsworth at HOW Design Live 2014

On the 2015 program, we have a lot of what I call design icons — Michael Bierut, Matteo Bologna, Jessica Helfand — that have helped shape the face of design and have been doing powerful work over the past decade that inspires the next generation. And then we have some real rising stars — people who will be those design icons 10 years from now, who are doing amazing work early in their careers.

Looking at the whole HOW Design Live program, what are the big differences that attendees will experience in 2015?

I think one of the biggest things is the mix of extraordinary speakers from across a range of creative fields. HOW Design Live is evolving and becoming multidisciplinary, in the same way the creative industry is changing. We’re inviting a group of thinkers, artists, product designers, writers, graphic designers — people like Simon Sinek and Rachel Sussman and Karim Rashid. You just won’t get that mix anywhere else. Plus, we’re working to bring to the stage a group of designers from outside the U.S. who are doing remarkable work. We’ll have more to reveal on that addition to the lineup soon, so stay tuned!

In addition, we think the whole event will just be a more relaxing, enjoyable experience — we’ve heard in the past that the schedule, as great as it is, can get a little overwhelming. We’ve taken steps to make it a lot easier for people get the most that they possibly can out of each session without missing anything. We really listen to what attendees need and refine the event every year.


a77d4a0d5242a62851e0dac2e7ba2cd0_pinwheelLearn more about creating your own customized HOW Design Live experience! Browse the full conference schedule and choose any session in any time slot across the five conference programs. Register by November 4 for the absolute best savings: You’ll save $500 off your Big Ticket purchase (compared to onsite registration). Interested in sponsoring HOW Design Live? Learn more here.

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