What is San Francisco Design Week 2019? San Francisco Design Week is the largest design event on the West Coast, a week-long festival of events, open-houses and conferences.
Britelite Immersive was excited to participate in SFDW 2019. As designers and creatives ourselves, we were pleased to contribute an interactive installation for the SFDW 2019 opening party (in collaboration with Marpi Studio), and also to host an open house and panel discussion at our office.
Opening Party at the Hub
SFDW kicked off with an opening party event at Pier 27, which acted as the Hub for a number of SFDW activities. In addition to the annual Design Awards, the opening party at the Hub featured presentations and installations by various design and design-related organizations.
New Nature collaboration with Marpi
Marpi’s “New Nature” works use depth cameras and touch screens to allow visitors to interact with a menagerie of exotic digital creatures. For this event, these works were presented on clusters of large ultra-high-definition screens, and highly responsive multi-touch screens.
Flanking the interactive works were large scale LED panels showing footage of exotic natural phenomena. The panels act as a complement to Marpi’s work: while you have to get close to interact with Marpi’s pieces, the imagery on the LED panels only starts to make sense at a distance, with the image coming into focus in a way reminiscent of the hyperspectral compound eye of a mantis shrimp.
It was exciting to see visitors discover the interactive possibilities, and starting to move and dance with the installations.
Noteworthy exhibits and observations
Tech is a very important part of San Francisco’s culture and economy, yet it was interesting to note that, aside from Britelite, there were few technology heavy displays or installations. Even companies like VMWare and CloudFlare had a notably low-tech presence (at least, at first sight).
The SFDW design awards did skew heavily towards technology, including categories like FinTech, VirtualTech, BioTech and Internet of Things, in addition to Architecture and Interior Design.
It was exciting to see Emerging Objects win an award for their work with 3D printing. Unity Technologies won an award for EditorXR, a virtual reality creative tool that we will likely make a lot of use of!
Part of the opening party, involved a silent auction for works from over 100 international designers. The level of wit and polish in the works was impressive, and rewarded careful study.
From the SFDW website: “The 2019 theme of CommUNITY honors the design discipline’s global unity, which will be celebrated at the opening night party on June 20, 2019 when leading San Francisco and acclaimed international designers showcase original artifacts they have produced especially for the event—posters, typeface, product, sculpture, motion graphic or artwork–– a response to the concept of ‘communicating unity.’”
Adrien Rovero “Shore” installation
This large scale installation by Swiss Designer Adrien Rovero, in partnership with product development company PCH features 120 “Shore” modules that are playful inflatable two-sided seats that can easily flip in different directions. Participants were encouraged to move them around and reconfigure them to create spaces for rest and conversation. Particularly impressive is that the modules are designed to be converted into tote bags after the event, in order to reduce waste.
Masako Miki “Mori No Yokai” artwork
These large scale artworks representing “shapeshifters of the forest” are fantastical ultra-colorful sculptures, inviting viewers to stand among them and interact. We were excited to see them right across from “New Nature”! Masako Miki has been a participant in Facebook’s Artist-In-Residence program.
CloudFlare is a company that offers Internet infrastructure services, including security and content distribution. At first glance, their presence at SFDW seemed a little random, a booth with a wall of lava lamps.
However, there is a deeper meaning to this: CloudFlare in fact uses a wall of Lava Lamps in their San Francisco headquarters as a source for random numbers which are used for computer security and encryption!
“Pulling off the Impossible” panel discussion
As part of Britelite’s contribution to the design community, we hosted an event and open house at our offices, with the theme “Pulling off the Impossible Takes More Than Conceptual Thinking”. Attendees heard from Britelite’s team about how we got where we are, our favorite projects, how we convince our clients of the value of experience design, and how we deliver results.
Attendees were excited to hear from members of the Britelite creative, tech and dev teams about real-life projects and experiences.
The panel discussion covered topics including:
- How we got here: How Britelite got started, from events to permanent works.
- Diversity: Understand the value of team’s varied skills and backgrounds – we need perspectives from design, creative technology and software development from the beginning of the process.
- Pursuing the Impossible: How to persuade clients of the value of breaking new ground, show them what is possible even if it is breaking entirely new ground.
- Innovating with Integrity: Make sure things are feasible, and ensure that we are properly managing the risks involved with leading edge innovation.
- Start and End with Strategy: Ensure that you are addressing the client’s business need – at the end of the day, does it address what they are trying to do.
- Embracing Ambiguity: How to navigate the process of building something entirely new, including the value of prototyping, previsualization, and having the design team work directly on production.
- Pulling Off the Impossible: At the end of the day, making it all work requires concentrated effort and flexibility from the entire team.
In our Q&A sessions, two major areas stood out:
“How to convince clients of the value of immersive experience design?”
We find that as experience design becomes more pervasive, it has become something that clients are requesting more of. However, it is up to us to ensure that expectations are realistic, and that projects do fulfill a client’s business and branding goals. Many of our attendees are deeply interested in work that transcends strict branding guidelines, and allows them to be more creative and exploratory.
“How to deliver projects that are breaking entirely new ground?”
Our Executive Creative Director, Patrice Speed, pointed out that there is a difference between “impossible” and “never been done before”, however you may not know which you are dealing with until you actually get started. BLI’s approach is to start with a discovery phase, that will explore client goals and project feasibility, before building a full implementation proposal. It is also extremely important to bring team members from all disciplines to the table early on in order to assess feasibility. Finally, it is hugely important to make sure that the entire team has a strong sense of the overall strategic direction of a project, and what it is meant to do for the client.
A particularly rich area of discussion was when the team discussed their favorite projects. While the VNC Gala was highlighted, everyone picked a different aspect of it, all of which highlighted a great combination of innovation, execution and addressing what the customer wanted.
Another overarching message to be drawn was the power of common values across the team, and the need to “start with yes” as a starting position when approaching projects.
After the panel, guests had a chance to mingle and explore several of our favorite installations, including the ever-popular robotic surgery simulator from the VNC Gala event, and holographic medical imaging from some of our biotech projects.
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