August 10th to 23rd
Before going to Sweden with 3/4 of the gang, we opened our studio once again for the UX Camp. This year we even managed to contribute some talks: Christophe presented Data Populator and Florie talked about how we are approaching our endeavors to give 10% of our profits to social causes. Michael was on vacation but he was metaphysically in the room, when Klaus-Peter gave an introduction to The Product Field.
Unfortunately I couldn’t be there, because I was already en route to Malmö, where the rest of our little Reisegruppe joined me on Monday.
That smile was on our faces right from the beginning, when the conference (sorry, The Conference) was kicked off by a lovely warm-up dinner. Starting with food is always a good thing. And when it’s served in an old, empty industrial building at two incredibly long tables populated with lots of friendly people, you know you are on to something.
The next two days at Slagthuset – the main event – had the same friendly, welcoming and laid-back style. I was impressed how well the team managed to establish a warm, casual, fun, sometimes even goofy atmosphere, but in a extremely professional way. Everything was flawlessly organized, everything seemed to run like clockwork. It felt perfectly imperfect.
The overall quality of the talks was pretty good, but honestly neither did I learn that much new, nor was I inspired or challenged that much. Some presentations were reassuring: lectures by UsTwo or Made by Many, both studios we respect a lot, showed me that they work pretty similar than we do – albeit on a larger scale. Others presentations were really fun and entertaining, which also has its merits of course. More team favorites were this, and this and this little surprise.
Actually being not that much inspired by the talks, inspired me in a way. In the last days I thought a lot about how my perfect conference would look like. In a lot of aspects, The Conference would be a role model. Setting, atmosphere, personal touch and all the other little details that make a great experience. It’s just that I would want to touch more broader topics by a more diverse set of speakers.
I hope this doesn’t come across as aloof or arrogant. Or belittling the effort of the curators and speakers. I think they did a great job. My ten-years younger self would have been more excited, and I think for the majority of the attendees, the curation of the talks was exactly right. It’s just that I prefer something either more in-depth (when it comes to design) or more broad (going more beyond our day-to-day work as designers). Which maybe would over-stretching the format of such a conference… but anyway, I’m thinking a lot about this right now.
Going deeper and broader was probably the job of the many side events that took place the day before and in the two post-conference days. It’s my fault I only attended one, because I guess those were designed to address exactly what I was criticizing earlier. Christophe, however, had the whole experience visiting many places and meeting lots of people as part of the 040x040 program (which had some overlaps with the conference’s side events).
All in all The Conference was awesome. A huge thanks to the team for making it such a great experience.
I will stay a little longer in Malmö. Although I’ll be in touch with the headquarters in Hamburg, I will probably not know enough about the activities in the studio to write weeknotes. Maybe someone else will take over.