What Design Can Do!

Stylesight’s creative team ventured to Amsterdam last week to attend the fourth (sold-out) edition of the annual design conference, What Design Can Do!

Featuring more than twenty local and international keynote speakers, breakout sessions, an international film festival, design tours, and many design parties, this two day program, called What Design Can Do! brought together an exhilarating mix of highly talented designers, artists, futurists and creatives. Co-founder Richard van der Laken was determined to create two thought-provoking days, exploring new opportunities and expanding the role of designers who are taking matters into their own hands.

Throughout the two-day conference, innovative talks and forward-thinking topics were explored through four themes: Learning, Economy, Nature and Stories. The most anticipated keynote session of the conference was from Sir Paul Smith on Thursday morning. Sir Paul Smith plays an integral part in his company which was established forty years ago. He elaborated on the nascence of his brand, the balance between creativity and economy, while his main message was: Never assume!

Speakers were drawn from a wide array of creative backgrounds. This year the talented Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg took center stage with her presentation; “Is biology the next design discipline?” As design fellow at Stanford University, she explained her role in the Synthetic Aesthetics project, a theme that has been recently explored at the V&A in London with the accompanying book release.

Other inspiring talks were presented by, guest-professor at Kunsthochschule Lucas Verweij with, “Is it time to give design away?”. Paola Antonelli, curator of MoMA in New York, explained her curatorial online experiment, “Design and Violence” which explores manifestations of violence in our current contemporary society by analyzing design and objects that have an ambiguous relationship with it. Throughout the two day conference a design book was being created on-the-spot. It detailed the design outcomes of the breakout and keynote sessions, and was presented at the end of the conference. What Design Can Do! is a must see hands-on experience for any contemporary designer, artist and writer who is intrigued by contemporary visual culture.

What Design Can Do! was held on Thursday May 8th and Friday May 9th at the Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam in The Netherlands. – Mona Dekker

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