My 2016 Hopscotch Design Festival must-see list

We’re only a couple of weeks away from this year’s Hopscotch Design Festival and folks have been asking me for guidance. Our speakers’ perspectives on design are broad, deep, and intelligent with an eye on the ever-changing nature and strategic future of the profession. I don’t know how to say it more succinctly, this third edition is not to be missed.

With so many fantastic speakers, you really can’t go wrong when it comes to planning your schedule. But if it helps, here are a few I can’t wait to see:

Julie Anixter

I didn’t know what to expect when we first met Julie Anixter (who recently took on the mantle of executive director of AIGA). My history with the professional association for designers goes back to 1979 when I first joined, and got serious when, in 1985, I helped found the Raleigh chapter. The early reports were very positive, but I was curious about our new leader.

A few months ago on the eve of the Leadership Retreat held here in Raleigh, I was chatting with Christopher Simmons explaining why I was moving into coaching. Ever astute, Christopher immediately said, “Julie’s going to love this!” And ushered me over for a proper introduction. Immediately, Julie acted as if we were old friends and was very supportive. I understood better the following day when I saw her keynote to the passionate group of designers assembled in front of her was titled “Are We Ready to Lead?” Her perspective on the profession—our challenges and opportunities—was dead on.

Julie Anixter

You can see Julie on Friday, September 9 at 9:30 a.m. at CAM Raleigh.

Dan Heath

In partnership with his brother, Chip, Dan Heath is the highly respected co-author of such classics as Made to Stick and Switch. When I picked up a copy of the former on a flight back from San Francisco more than a decade ago, I devoured the entire book on my flight. Upon landing I went straight to the bookstore and bought copies for everyone on the brand team at Red Hat. Today, in my work as a leadership coach, Switch and its smart stories and lessons of how to make change happen have become a mainstay on my bedside reading table.

Dan Heath

You can see Dan’s keynote on Thursday, September 8 at 9:40 a.m. at the Raleigh Convention Center.

Terry Irwin

First a confession: more than a dozen years ago, I found myself somewhat disillusioned with the design profession and creative-agency work. So as I headed off to Vancouver for the 2003 AIGA National Design Conference, expecting the standard, self-congratulatory presentations of the usual suspects, little did I know how my life was to be turned on its head.

The program for that year’s conference was conceived by Terry Irwin, the conference program director. Speakers from Fritjof Capra, Bruce Sterling, Bruce Mau, Katherine McCoy, Heffland and Drental shook the cobwebs off. During one particular presentation by Oberlin’s David Orr, I literally had what I can only describe as a vision which led, eventually, to the formation of New Kind. Seriously weird, I know. For this designer, the 2003 conference more than lived up to its title, “The Power of Design.” All thanks to Terry Irwin.

In the thirteen years since Vancouver, Irwin has been busy continuing to change and reinvent the profession to live up to it’s potential. Currently disrupting the world of design education as the Chair at Carnegie Mellon, I can’t wait to hear what she’s got to say.

Terry Irwin

You can see Terry speak on Thursday, September 8 at 3:40 p.m. at CAM Raleigh.

Dori Tunstall

While Dori Tunstall was on the program in Vancouver back in 2003, it was at the AIGA Make/Think Conference in Memphis six years later that I personally got to meet her and her charming aunt. I’m so excited that she’s joining us in Raleigh to share her knowledge. Over the decades the Venn diagram illustrating the overlap between “design” and “anthropology” has become bigger and fuller, a trend that will continue in the years to come forward.

Dori is one of the world’s leading thinkers on this exact point. Dori’s challenging thoughts on how the design community must become aware of and assume its power and its responsibility to transform our world—in business, politics, society, and culture—comes at a critical time. I hope her aunt joins her.

Dori Tunstall

You can see Dori speak on Friday, September 9 at 1:40 p.m. at Christ the King Presbyterian Church in downtown Raleigh.


Be sure to check out the entire Hopscotch Design Festival lineup and visit the schedule page so you can plan out your festival. And if you haven’t already, make sure to buy tickets before they sell out.

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